Joshua v Ruiz Jr: Tommy Coyle on the Box Clever Bus and his journey to New York
Tommy Coyle is a boxer with a plan, both in and out of the ring.
The Hull fighter takes on Chris Algieri on Saturday in a super-lightweight contest, their clash part of the undercard for Anthony Joshua's American debut against Andy Ruiz Jr in New York.
For Coyle, it is an opportunity to continue his late push for a shot at a world title before he hangs up his gloves. While his love for fighting remains strong, he accepts the time is approaching to walk away from the game, faculties still intact, and focus on the next chapter of his life.
"There are three fights maximum [left], two minimum," he told Omnisport after concluding his final sparring session.
"I am genuinely done – I don't need to box. I do it because I love fighting and it makes me a better person. I often sit and think what am I going to do when it finishes, but I've got a lot of business interests.
"Fighting ticks a box for me – it makes me a better person. I had a lot of negative energy as a kid and boxing was a vice for me. That physical explosion on a night ... it was like a glass of milk before bed. It took the edge off – and it still does."
Yet while the Englishman's boxing journey is heading towards the final stop, one of the latest initiatives by his foundation has just started out on what he hopes will be a route that changes lives.
The Box Clever Bus Tour hit the road on April 25. The double-decker vehicle – equipped with eight bags and a mobile ring that opens up outside on arrival, as well as a smoothie bar upstairs – aims to "engage with young people" in the hope of reducing anti-social behaviour.
Orchard Park in Hull was the first stop, an estate to the north of the city where the local bus company, Stagecoach, was forced earlier this year to tell drivers not to stop due to what they described as "ongoing problems" with youths in the area.
However, with financial help from the Home Office, secured by the Humberside Police and Crime Commissioner, and NHS Hull, Coyle has helped make a long-held dream become a reality.
"I've had a vision for the Box Clever Bus since 2015. It was in my very first initial business plan. I either wanted a centre of excellence or the bus," he said while seated on the edge of the ring where he had just carried out a six-round workout.
"Now a centre of excellence is nice, and I will probably still open one of them, but the Box Clever Bus is much more me, working with the kids out there on the streets, trying to improve their minds and change their lives.
"Boxing has definitely improved my mind and changed my life – there are many more kids who can learn from my mistakes and be successful, or become a better person should I say, because of boxing.”
The Commonwealth lightweight champion continued: "It's not just about the boxing skills but teaching them key, core principles that I believe in.
"It's called the 'HSP' strategy, which stands for hard work, sacrifice and perseverance. My whole career, my whole success in life or business, whatever I've applied myself to, has come from that principle.
"I've worked hard and made the sacrifices that were needed and, even when it's gone wrong and hasn't quite worked out, I've persevered. If you keep sticking to that plan, keep revisiting it in that order, eventually success is inevitable.
"It's the same in life as it is in the ring. You get knocked down, you get back up."
Boxclever Week 1 pic.twitter.com/tkiEv3BhTt— BOXCLEVER BUS (@BoxcleverBus) May 4, 2019
The bus is not his first method of helping Hull's young generation. His two gyms in the city offer free sessions for those under 17, with the Coyle Foundation focused on long-term prospects, rather than financial gains.
"I don't profit from my gyms - they hemorrhage money, let me assure you - but my other businesses do very well and it was key to give something back to a city I'm proud to be from. Not only have they supported me in victory, but also in defeat," the founder explained.
Coyle - the son of a fruit and veg man who says he "cannot stand the stuff" - wants to give his supporters one final hurrah on home turf, a farewell fight to say thank you in his own back yard.
Before then, however, he gets the opportunity to step out at the famous Madison Square Garden and take on former WBO super-lightweight champion Algieri in a bout that has the potential to steal the show.
"It's no mistake me fighting at MSG – win this fight, win in impressive fashion, and I think Eddie [Hearn, his promoter] will get me a title fight," the Englishman said.
"Whatever happens, my last fight will be in Hull. I genuinely think, 12 or 18 months from now, I'm done. That doesn't make me sad, it makes me quite happy."
Do not bet against the determined Coyle signing off in style. Still, whatever happens in the rest of his career he deserves to be revered in Hull, both for what he has achieved as a fighter but also all he has done to help the city he is proud to call home.