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Tommy Kotrla

TK Boxing

“My first love of sport was football, my dad was a very good goalkeeper, he played in the first division and he finished his career when he was 49 years old and I wanted to be like him.

I had been playing football since I was about five or six years old. When I got to the age of fourteen or fifteen, I realised I was too small to be a goalkeeper, at the same time during a winter break, a friend of mine invited me to do some boxing, I wasn’t sure about it but it was amazing, it was like love at first sight. I knew it was for me – it didn’t matter if you were small or skinny.

All the boxers and trainers were amazing. They showed us the way to box, how to punch, how to stand and they were so helpful, nice people, they taught us so much and none of them were intimidating in any way, so I just stayed there, I figured if I just stayed there and worked hard, I could prove myself in the ring. In the Czech Republic we had something like the premier league but for boxing, all the trainers were premier league boxers and they boxed for the national team.

I started a little late as a boxer, I was between fifteen and sixteen, but I pushed myself hard, I loved it and luckily was quite good. I had 45 fights as a junior and then when I was nearly seventeen, I was chosen to box in the seniors. A boxer from the seniors was injured so I took his place – fighting with the seniors premier league when I was seventeen! It was a dream come true. I was fifty-four kilos so a bantamweight, I was skinny and tall but did very well. It was tough bit I loved it and made my dad proud. When I was twenty, I was proud to become captain of the team and I stayed doing that for eleven years. Then at twenty-two, they picked me up for the national team. I was in the squad team for the Olympics in Altlanta in 1996 but unfortunately I got injured so couldn’t compete.

I continued to box in the Premier league, had a lot of fights, I was a three-time silver medallist and a three times bronze medallist in the national Czech championship. I had 282 fights as an amateur. I also boxed in Germany and Austria leagues as well and boxed the Polish boxing league. I boxed in many different tournaments, travelling over the many countries in Europe. It was hard but good fun too, I made friends for life. But sadly in1999 the boxing team had to break up because we didn’t have enough sponsors and finance to carry on in the premier league.

So I decided to box as a professional and quickly signed the contract. It was tough because my manager wasn’t in a strong position and sometimes gave me just one or two weeks’ notice for a fight. When I look back it was much easier fighting as an amateur. Boxing was our full time job, we trained twice a day, got paid a salary plus money for fights, all the equipment was funded. They were good times! After 17 years of an active career in boxing I decided to stop fighting when I was nearly thirty-five, I decided enough was enough.

I had always wanted to learn the English language. One day I saw an advert from Jamie Johnson looking for a part time boxing trainer. It was like it was meant to be. I replied and came here to introduce myself. Jamie Johnson is a former women’s English boxing champion, she’s very famous here in Tunbridge Wells. She was looking for someone to help her with boxing part-time, she offered me the position and we started training the kids at Showfields Estate in Tunbridge Wells. I also started working full time at the sausage factory in Tunbridge Wells where I started improving my English. A couple of evenings a week I worked as a volunteer at Sevenoaks amateur boxing club, I stayed there for nearly four years, sharing my knowledge with young boxers, I still enjoyed sparring with the boxers. I got my qualification as an amateur boxing coach level one and then level two whilst there.

In 2014, Jake from Halo Gym contacted me to ask If I would like to help him train some white-collar boxers, I accepted, and we started to collaborate, people started to like what we were doing. Jake then asked me if I wanted to help him set up boxing classes at Halo, working there full time as a self employed trainer, I wasn’t sure as it was a big step for me but after chatting through with my girlfriend Clare, she said just do it! So, I did! I’ve been here for six years now and it’s going very well.

I just love the boxing and teaching people, that’s my passion, I love meeting new people, seeing their different styles, how they improve and grow in confidence, everybody is different, and I love teaching them. I’ve discovered I’m a good teacher.

Recently i passed as a Second/Trainer for the British Boxing Board of Control proving you can always grow and learn more. I’m 47 now, fit, healthy and will continue to learn & grow.”

 

About the business

282 fights – 229 wins – 3 draws
13 professional fights

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