Martin Hillman

Martin Hillman
It is easy to think of a professional boxer as someone who has 'made it'.  Paid their dues in the amateur game and turned over to reap the rewards, live the lifestyle.  But for many the transition to the professional game is as hard , if not harder, than being an amateur.  With the amateur sport there is less pressure, less limelight and less expectation.  These are three things that Martin Hillman is learning to balance, alongside his 9 to 5 role in the garage.
"I'm still working full time alongside my boxing" Martin tells me.  "It is hard to fit everything in - I train twice a day around my job but the rewards are worth the hard work."
At the moment the rewards for Martin are as much about achievement as they are monetary.  He has a profound love of the art of boxing.  "I have always wanted to turn pro since I started boxing at the age of 12, now I'm actually doing it and I just want to give it everything to see how far I can go.  I prefer the longer distance of fighting, so I think my game is more suited to the professional version of the sport."
It's been a turbulent start to his professional career.  In the amateurs Hillman boxed to a high level, taking in over 80 bouts.  "My amateur record was good.  I won more fights that I lost and I boxed a lot of top fighters, as well as boxing in the junior and senior elite ABAs."  In itself that is an achievement the majority of fighter will never recognise.  His professional career to date reads four wins, two losses.  Already though, in a sign of intent and grit, Hillman has overturned one of his early career defeats. 
"It was great to avenge a loss last time out.  I boxed to a game plan and it paid off.  I think to go straight back in with someone who beat me and get the win, shows I am getting the right training and advice from my manager and trainer Joe to keep improving."
The fighter that Hillman lost to and subsequently defeated was Michael Stupart, a stalwart of the domestic super featherweight scene over the last five years.  The Joe that Martin refers to is his trainer, Joe Elfidh.  It is under his guidance and tutelage that Martin sees himself growing.  "Joe's gym (box2win) in Kent is a great place to train because the gym has a good atmosphere and I have a lot of other pros to train with" states Martin.  The gym is in a good place for Martin, not just geographically but also the opportunities that are offered to him.  The club, along with Stefy Bull Promotions, are able to run their own events which Martin is gaining exposure from.

Since his debut at York Hall in November 2013 Hillman has been unlucky with injuries, sometime keeping him out of the ring for longer than a prospect would wish.  He sees the light at the end of the tunnel now thanks to assistance from the experts and is able to focus his intentions on his desired weight category.  "I've suffered both an ankle and a wrist injury since turning over.  I have seen a sports physio and got them both sorted now, so hopefully I won't pick up any more.  I feel I will do best at featherweight, so that's where I want to be at.  I've boxed higher than that when I've needed to because of being matched to a larger opponent, but longer term I will settle at that weight."

Hillman has already been out four times at York Hall.  Often seen as the home of the British boxing scene, how has Martin found the occasions?  "York Hall is such a great venue to box at.  My supporters when they get in there - wow, they are really noisy.  Every time I have boxed there I have been fortunate that the atmosphere is just unbelievable."

His last two fights have been away from the iconic venue - at present there isn't a fight on the horizon for Martin.  But that doesn't stop him staying busy in the gym. "I will get a date for my next fight very soon.  I know I will be stepping up to doing a 6 rounder, which will suit me more.  When I get a date I can start full training again, I can't wait."

In the meantime Martin will continue his grafting.  Not many fighters are able to maintain a life of training twice a day, focussing on a fight around the corner and also keep up a full time job.  It is with such a work ethic and determination that gives you the belief that Martin's professional dreams become a reality in the near future.