TWENTY five years after being crowned British Bantamweight Champion Warrington boxer Ray Gilbody is still in the ring, coaching local youngsters.
Despite retiring from the game after failing to claim the European title Ray never lost his passion for the sport.
But now reflecting back on his glittering boxing career he would never have turned professional if he could have his time over again.
“Representing your country at the Olympics and Commonwelath games is the ultimate honour,” said Ray.
“Once I turned professional I gave up that chance.My biggest thrill was rubbing shoulders with the likes of Seb Coe and Steve Ovett at the Olympic Games.”
Now aged 50, he is still fit and recently completed the Mancester 10k in an impressive 58 minutes, raising funds for the David Lewis Epilepsy Centre in Knutsford, where he works as a painter and decorator.
After retiring from the sport he settled down and married his sweetheart Sally Ann, helping raise two sons Ryan, 18 and Liam 16.
But he never lost the love of boxing and now helps coach youngsters at the Hook and Jab club on Bridgefoot, three evenings a week.
Gilbody was crowned British champion three times, once at flyweight and twice an bantam weight. He represented Great Britain as a Bantamweight at the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games. He was eliminated in the second round by Daniel Zaragoza of Mexico, losing on points. He was also the 1979 ABA Flyweight champion, and ABA Bantamweight champion in 1980 and 1982. He won a bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games in Brisbane in 1982.
After turning professional he was crowned British Bantamweight Champion on June 13 1985 when he defeated John Feeney at Borough Hall, Hartlepool, County Durham.
He successfully defended the title the following November beating John Farrell at York Hall, Bethnal Green, London.
The following year he just missed out on the European title losing on points in controversial circumstances to Italian Ciro De Leva at Cosenza, Calabria, Italy.
Replays of the game clearly showed several rounds exceeded their time limits, allowing the Italian to get on top.
His final fight was in February 1987 when he lost his British title to Billy Hardy.
Boxing was clearly in the Gilbody family with his elder brother George was also an accomplished amateur, competing at the Olympics and Commonwealth Games while their father was a member of the British army boxing team.
“I was never hungry enough or aggressive enough as a professional fighter,” added Ray.
He never made a fortune from boxing, winning £2.5k when he lifted the British title. His biggest purse was £12k for the European title but in reality he ended up with a lot less after paying all his overheads.