The Esham Pickering Story: The Journey of Brown Sugar

Updated: Aug 9, 2020

The warrior's code will forever be a tough one to get to grips with. Many young men enter the sport with lofty aspirations but quickly find out just how hard and gruelling boxing is. However, one feel-good story is that of Newark’s Esham Pickering. Just a young man who came into boxing not looking at the lofty heights but still achieved so much with hard work and determination.

“1991, I was mad on football and did a bit of cross country running, long-distance running and athletics but I was always an active kid, I wasn’t a fighter was brought up by my mum on her own but my mate did boxing so I went there. I started boxing just before my 15th birthday within three months had my first amateur fight and the first season I had 16 fights in 7 months so I was busy.”

“I always liked watching boxing but never thought about doing it, I was a bullied kid brought up in a white community as mixed-race so that brought trouble until I boxed and it all changed.”

Despite having a relatively short amateur career Pickering managed a fair amount of success.

I had 47 fights in four and a half seasons, so I was really busy, on my third season I won a national title at 54kgsdown in London the next seasonIboxed for England against Scotland and the year after that I went down to Brendan Ingle and turned pro.”

Brown Sugar remembers boxing Carl Froch as an amateur and says that the Froch we know now was vastly different from the younger version of the Cobra.

“Carls gym is only about 20 minutes away from us - he boxed for a club in Phoenix but he moved to Newark for about seven to eight months and only came down about ten times probably. He was very different from the Froch we know now he was very skilful and was about my size and the next thing you know he's Middleweight ABC champion and turning pro at Super Middleweight.”

“He’s a legend. He was strong as a bull, he’s got an Iron chin he turned out the opposite he was quite slim and turned out complete opposite to what I knew back then, he was slim and my size, the same weight but what a fighter he turned out to be.”

Pickering recalls meeting Brendan Ingle and pondering on whether to turn pro or not.

“Brendan asked me if I'd like to move down here, train here and put all your time into boxing and I went away back to work for a month and thought yeah I want to do that so I saved a bit of money up and I got a few grand together and moved to Sheffield. My first pro fight was September 23rd and they kept me busy but was a good ticket seller. In the beginning, I had 10 fights in the space of a year, I had to sell my tickets to pay my purse and my team so it wasn't great money but I built my record up by fighting regularly on the small hall scene.