top of page


Updated: Apr 29

Sunderland boxing fans will likely agree that one positive to emerge from lockdown was the creation of Tenacity, a professional boxing stable coached jointly by Sunderland’s Anth Kelly and Hartlepool’s John Stubbs. Both men had long experience in the amateur sport when they obtained professional coaching licences from the British Boxing Board of Control in 2021. Darlington’s Ben Marksby was the first recruit soon to be joined by the Sunderland trio of Beau Smith, Adam Reichard and Travis Waters. The latter three have their next bout at Rainton Meadows Arena on 4th May and expect massive local support.

Coaches and Boxers from Tenacity Boxing Club, photographed by Ross Johnston
Back row: left to right: Beau Smith, Travis Waters, Adam Reichard. Front row: left to right: John Stubbs and Anth Kelly. Photo, courtesy of Ross Johnston.

‘We’ve four top quality boxers now,’ said Stubbs, adding ‘we don’t want to bite off more than we can chew. All four have the required high work ethic but there are other amateurs who could come on board. We’re grateful to Manchester-based promoter Steve Wood for managing the group and giving them lots of professional exposure across the North by providing regular matches on shows organised by his company VIP Promotions.’

Forty-year-old Stubbs is head coach at Hartlepool’s Headland Amateur Boxing Club and first obtained coaching qualifications in 2010 and has worked with England Boxing as a national performance coach. Kelly at 38 describes himself as a ‘boxing man through and through’ and has coached England’s boxing team producing national champions. Adam Reichard and Beau Smith have been trained by Kelly since childhood. ‘I joined Wearmouth on its opening day in 2013,’ said Reichard, ‘and was first boxer to win a bout for them aged thirteen. Anth Kelly was in my corner for the vast majority of my sixty-five amateur fights. It’s him starting training professionals that encouraged me to turn over. I likely wouldn’t have with anyone else. I owe him everything.’

Travis Waters now 27 but the oldest Tenacity boxer put himself forward to join the team after a distinguished amateur career ‘I’m grateful to John and Anth for welcoming me to Tenacity. We’ve built a strong connection as a team in a relatively short time, and I fitted in easily learning to improve my boxing. I hope that Sunderland will come out in force on 4th May for my seventh professional match to see how far I‘ve progressed and watch me gain further experience and hopefully finish the fight with a crowd-pleasing knockout.’

Kelly describes welterweight Waters as ‘leading the pack and heading for the top, a hard puncher with an excellent record of stoppages, he’s one of the brightest north-east prospects for championship aiming for a regional title fight hopefully later this year.’ For Stubbs Waters is ‘a highly intelligent and tactical boxer who’s a monster puncher having stopped four of six opponents.’ Both are positive about lightweight Reichard, 23, as ‘100% an athlete for whom we have high hopes as he gains experience in his fifth bout and first sixth rounder in May’. As he prepares for his third paid contest, twenty-year-old welterweight Smith is seen by Kelly as ‘a physically strong boy already boxing at a decent level in his first year as a tough young professional.’

Northumberland’s Connor Samms and Hartlepool’s Jason Cumming are making their professional debut on the Rainton show which sees northern area super lightweight title belt holder Sunderland’s Jordan Ellison scheduled to meet Tommy Hodgson from North Shields in the main event over ten rounds. Trained in Leeds by Michael

Marsden, Ellison sated ‘I’m hoping my experience of beating top class boxers will allow me to defend my title successfully.’ Ashington’s light heavyweight southpaw Ben Rees has his third contest. ‘I’m excited for my fight. As an amateur I won national championships six times and got a bronze in a European championship. Now I’m keen to develop as a professional boxer and become a title contender.’

Kelly’s Wearmouth Boxing Club is a community-based club with twenty boxers ‘carded’ competitors with England Boxing and seventy training there regularly. Anyone interested in getting involved can locate the club on its social media platforms

VIP Boxing Promotions present a night of Championship Boxing on Saturday May 4th at Rainton Arena, Houghton le Spring.

Tickets available to purchase from the boxers. General £40, Ringside £70

Watch the show, live and free from 7pm, plus interviews, news, and behind the scenes footage. Subscribe to

14 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page