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The Hitman by Ricky Hatton

Release date: 03rd January, 2008
Publisher: Ebury Press

List Price: £6.99
Our Price: £4.12
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Ricky Hatton
The Hitman: My Story
Ebury Press price: 4.19, saving £2.80 on rrp

The words 'boxing' and 'hype' occasionally appear inextricably intertwined. Anyone with an interest in the noble art can invariably recall a fair number of average boxers who have believed far too much of their manager's hype for their own good and ended up on the receiving end of a good thumping.

Thankfully, there are a much smaller number of outstanding, talented boxers who supersede the sport's razzamatazz, who require little hype, because their ability speaks for itself. Ricky Hatton is one such boxer.

At the age of seven, inspired by a clutch of Bruce Lee films, young Ricky dreamt of becoming a kick boxer. He wasn't half bad, but gradually, it became apparent he was a much better fighter when using his fists. But what inspires a youngster to take that dramatic decision which will turn him from being a decent performer into a world-class one? In Hatton's case, he obviously had the talent, but of even greater importance was his burning desire to succeed.

Ricky Hatton may have occasionally worn the jazzy shorts while in the ring, but he is so clearly a guy whose ability is linked to hard graft that the British sporting public love him for it. Not since Frank Bruno has a British boxer been so lovingly embraced. While Bruno gleefully played up to the role of Harry Carpenter's bumbling foil, Ricky Hatton is an ordinary bloke who enjoys nothing more than a few beers after a fight - and possibly the odd curry. Ask Hatton's supporters what they like most about him and they will tell you that they almost feel as though they know him. He's a mate, a guy you're on nodding terms with, one who has little time for boxing's flash side, but one who has also become a serial world champion and been awarded an MBE for his services to boxing.

The great Sugar Ray Leonard says, "One thing IÖtruly love about Ricky Hatton is that he has maintained his perspective, he has not become a prima donna." The Hitman's tale, delivered with surprising openness and with great humour, proves Leonard's point and great credit should go to Niall Hickman for capturing Ricky's voice in print.

He is not a man to mince his words and while the stories of amazing drinking sessions with high-profile stars such as Andrew Flintoff, his great friendship with Wayne Rooney and of playing darts with Phil Taylor add to the sporting narrative without making it sound like name dropping, I found the description of the gradual deterioration of his relationship with manager Frank Warren absolutely gripping. Initially, little things gnaw at Hatton as he feels as though he's being neglected; he misses out on an after-party invitation, a possible oversight, but the gnawing effect will not go away and eventually, it builds to the point where their once solid, if not tight, relationship falls apart.

Lesser men than Hatton may have suffered from the managerial break up, but the former carpet fitter from Stockport is made of sterner stuff. Indeed, it could be argued that since splitting from Warren, Ricky Hatton's stock among the public, who never fail to spot a good 'un like him, has actually risen - thankfully without the need for any hype whatsoever..

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