HE'S a security guard who trains in his own time – but he's also a double title winner sought by two popular boxers for sparring.
Lack of sponsorship means Grimsby's Kevin Hooper has to train outside of work – but the talent and technique that has him on the verge of a third professional title is attracting attention.
Former British champion and recent Prizefighter competitor Anthony Crolla frequently invites unbeaten lightweight Hooper to Gallagher's Gym in Manchester, host to European champions John Murray and Matthew Macklin.
And former Grimsby Town footballer Curtis Woodhouse is a regular visitor to Hooper's gym – Grimsby Pro-Am Boxing, in Ainslee Street – and was back for sparring ahead of his English light-welterweight title victory over Dave Ryan last month.
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Unbeaten Hooper, a security guard, is hoping Friday – when he challenges Sleaford's Amir Unsworth for the Midlands Area lightweight title – will be his chance to shine.
He said: "Curtis is nice and strong; he's the weight above me.
"We did eight rounds on both occasions. We are good friends and the sparring benefits us both.
"Curtis comes forward, applies pressure and likes his left hooks. He makes sure I keep my hands up nice and tight.
"That pressure is similar to what Amir is going to put on me so it will help me a lot.
"To win the English title is a great achievement for him. He had a lot of doubters being an ex-footballer but he's shown he can do it – with a lot of hard work, you can get places.
"It was a big fight for him in terms of what he wants to do with his boxing – he couldn't afford to lose in a sense.
"With my fight being an English title eliminator, let's hope I can follow in his footsteps."
Mancunian Crolla, 25, lost his British title to Liverpool's Derry Matthews last August.
He was back in action for this month's Prizefighter lightweight tournament, which Hooper – who was set to be considered for the big-money showpiece – was unable to take part in because of its close proximity to his next fight.
Hull's Tommy Coyle was also involved. He lost his quarter-final to Gary Sykes by unanimous decision.
Crolla saw off Stephen Jennings in his quarter-final at the Olympia on points, but lost by split decision to Sykes, who went on to lose the final against Terry Flannigan, also on split decision.
Hooper said: "He thanked me and told me I helped him with the fight he won at Prizefighter because his opponent Stephen Jennings is tall like me.
"He put in a good performance on Prizefighter so it must have worked – I must be doing something right.
"He's on the phone to me inviting me to his gym when he has fights coming up.
"Crolla is nice and slick. He comes forward too and has a lot of variety in his shots.
"It's good to mix it up with a former British champion. It's great going to his gym in Manchester and being in that atmosphere."
Hooper's preparations have also involved sparring sessions in Grimsby with unbeaten up-and-coming Hull boxers Joel Haigh and Samir Mouniemne.