Ben ‘Pumpkin’ Collins makes his long-anticipated professional debut on December 20th at the Eastside Rooms in Birmingham on BCB’s stacked ‘Fight Before Xmas’ show headlined by Sian O’Toole vs. Beccy Ferguson.
The light heavyweight from Stourbridge had a brilliant amateur career, which culminated in him winning the largest event in Europe, the Haringey Cup, in June of this year when he was just 18 years old.
“Coming out of Haringey, I thought my days as an amateur were coming to an end, and having won the competition, it sprung me to make the decision to go pro. I feel like I underachieved in some ways, as there was more I could have done, but I spoke to Errol (promoter Errol Johnson), looked at the options, and decided now was the time to join the paid ranks.
“I have been fortunate that I sell a good number of tickets, so that’s always a factor, and the plan will be to box on big arena shows, hopefully as soon as next year. December 20th is my chance to make a statement and make people sit up and notice what I am about, but I want to enjoy it as well. You only get one debut, and I plan on making the most of mine”.
Collins started boxing at just eight years old, and it was at this point that he gained his nickname ‘Pumpkin’, which has become a moniker that now adorns his own gym, Team Pumpkin Boxing in Brierly Hill. He lost his first six fights as an amateur but persevered and learned the basics of the sport at Lions Boxing Club before moving to Priory Park and finally BCB, where he achieved most of his success.
“I went into the gym for the first time, and the coach said, What do I call you? and I said Ben. He asked me if I had a nickname, but I didn’t know what he was on about. He said, well, what other names do people call you? I said my mum calls me pumpkin sometimes, and it has stuck ever since. I had it on my waistband for my first amateur fight, and now more people call me Pumpkin than Ben.
Despite his tender age of just nineteen, Collins is proving to be an excellent assist for his local community through the work in his own gym, which he runs with his dad, and he has been heavily involved with projects across the Midlands.
“It started out as me doing some one-to-one training sessions and then group sessions with adults over the COVID period. Then we added kid’s sessions, and our Team Pumpkin gym became properly affiliated with England boxing and we have a great relationship with Dudley Borough Council. We have recently won a community award for best sports team or club of the year. A big part of it isn’t just about boxing; I have been into schools working with anti-knife crime campaigners, and it’s nice to see the young kids who take part. They remind me of myself in a lot of ways, and I hope they take a lot from the sessions we put on.
The light heavyweight division is stacked domestically, and one of Britain’s best, Callum Smith, has remained a firm inspiration for Collins since they met several years ago.
“As a kid, I always liked Callum and his style of fighting; he signed a glove for me, and I have kept in touch with him ever since. I’ve also always liked watching the Klitschkos, and the way they went about their careers has been something I’ve looked up to.
“Boxing in the Midlands is on another level right now; everyone’s pushing everyone on, and when I am down at the BCB gym, it is such a good environment to be in. I know that I am fortunate that I will be boxing full-time thanks to some brilliant sponsors, but I will keep doing the work at my gym and stay busy with the community work. I want to go all the way and win a world title. When I was in school, that’s all I told my teachers I wanted to be when I was older, and the journey is just beginning”.
Tickets for the December 20th ‘Fight Before Xmas’ show are available now from the boxers directly or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, priced at £40 standard and £80 VIP Ringside.