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The incredible story of 'Britain's Worst Boxer' who once lost 51 fights in a row

Rory O'Callaghan

Published 
| Last updated 

The incredible story of 'Britain's Worst Boxer' who once lost 51 fights in a row

"My ambition was to be remembered. To be remembered as a loser? No. To be remembered for making an impression, to do things that nobody said I could do."

Those are the words of 'Rockin' Robin Deakin, a fighter who once had the dubious distinction of being known as 'Britain's Worst Boxer'.

Deakin achieved fame and made headlines around the world after losing 51 consecutive fights during his professional career.

But that incredible winless run doesn't tell the full story of a determined fighter, who overcame huge odds to even make it to the professional ranks.

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Robin Deakin (right) won just two of his 55 professional fights (Image: Alamy)
Robin Deakin (right) won just two of his 55 professional fights (Image: Alamy)

Born with talipes equinovarus, or club foot as it is better known, Deakin endured more than 40 operations as a youngster and was unable to walk unaided until the age of six.

In an effort to improve his mobility, Deakin was introduced to boxing as a child - the start of a long and unique journey in the sport.

"I was taken down the gym at just over six years old," Deakin told SPORTbible.

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"I used to be in my wheelchair, jabbing and stuff, and the trainers said things like 'He could be quite good him, if he could walk'. I kept having surgery on my legs, I got a bit a stronger and began to take physio up.

Deakin won his pro debut in 2006 before losing 51 consecutive bouts (Image: Alamy)
Deakin won his pro debut in 2006 before losing 51 consecutive bouts (Image: Alamy)

"Eventually I started walking, taking little steps. I used to just go to boxing to try and strengthen my legs. I found that it helped, with my confidence as well. I just started getting stronger and stronger. It helped a lot.

"It gave me confidence to be myself. Rather than being a shy kid that used to get bullied. It was nice to be myself and have the confidence to do that."

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As he got older, Deakin's condition improved and he was eventually able to compete in amateur competitions, reaching the light welterweight semi-finals at the ABA Championships, and also take a silver medal at the Limassol Cup in Cyprus.

After a 76-fight amateur career, Deakin finally made his professional debut in 2006 – beating Shaun Walton on points at London's historic York Hall.

But a defeat to Eduards Krauklis in a hastily-arranged second fight at Wembley Arena the following year triggered a remarkable sequence of defeats for Deakin that would earn him his reputation as boxing's perennial runner-up.

Deakin fought the likes of Anthony Crolla and Stephen Smith during his career (Image: Alamy)
Deakin fought the likes of Anthony Crolla and Stephen Smith during his career (Image: Alamy)
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The run, which spanned an incredible nine years, included defeats to future champions Anthony Crolla and Stephen Smith, as well as numerous losses to fellow journeymen.

Explaining his decision to carry on his professional career even after so many losses, Deakin said: "I was addicted to pain. It sounds silly but I love things that people avoid. I love pain, I love being in the unknown territory of getting in there and something bad happening. It didn't bother me about winning and losing.

"Whenever I boxed the best, I turned up looking the part. Fake tan, Suzi Wong always did my kit through my pro career and made me look good. I always went in looking good but came out second!"

The nadir of his career came in 2014 when he was stripped of his licence to fight by the British Boxing Board of Control due to concerns for his safety.

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He finally picked up his second win in 2015, nine years after his pro debut victory (Image: Alamy)
He finally picked up his second win in 2015, nine years after his pro debut victory (Image: Alamy)

But he was able to carry on in the sport after obtaining a German permit.

His perseverance would finally pay off in 2015 when he picked up his elusive second win, beating Latvian fighter Deniss Kornilovs – coincidentally the same venue he made his successful pro debut nine years earlier.

"It was massive… I cried in the ring," said Deakin.

"I'm not sure if it was happiness, I think it was more a relief. It was a weight off my shoulders."

He partly credited the victory to former British welterweight champion Michael Jennings, who helped train Deakin for the fight and even put him up in his own home after he found himself homeless.

"Michael is one of my closest friends in boxing," added Deakin, who also thanked Jennings' brother Dave for his support during that period.

Deakin credited Michael Jennings with helping him secure his second pro win (Image: Alamy)
Deakin credited Michael Jennings with helping him secure his second pro win (Image: Alamy)

"I lived at Michael's house. People don't know this but I was actually homeless, I had nowhere to live. I lived at Michael's house for about four months, living in his cinema room. Training every day.

"It was mad because when I won, it went worldwide. I had Floyd Mayweather and Mike Tyson sharing my story about my disability. It was massive. It's thanks to Michael and Dave for helping me out around then."

Deakin eventually hung up his gloves in 2018, finishing his professional boxing career with just two wins from his 55 bouts. But he wasn't yet finished with fighting. 

He later moved into the unforgiving world of bare-knuckle boxing, admitting that he initially used his fights as a way to self-harm after struggling with depression.

"I didn't want to be here," explained Deakin.

Floyd Mayweather (pictured) and Mike Tyson shared the story of Deakin's second win (Image: Alamy)
Floyd Mayweather (pictured) and Mike Tyson shared the story of Deakin's second win (Image: Alamy)

"I didn't have a stable place to live, staying in hotels… which is why I took so many fights as I did so I had somewhere to stay for a couple of days."

After picking up one draw and three losses from his first four bare-knuckle fights, Deakin chose to step away from the sport after finding happiness and stability with his partner, Kristy.

But he was tempted into making a surprise comeback last month against Ben Hatchett, which ended in the bitter - but familiar - taste of defeat.

"I took the fight because I was two-and-a-half years and hadn’t done anything, but I'd met my misses and found happiness," explained Deakin.

Deakin moved into bare-knuckle fighting after retiring from boxing (Image: Alamy)
Deakin moved into bare-knuckle fighting after retiring from boxing (Image: Alamy)

"Three weeks before the fight was meant to happen, I got offered the fight. I'd done no training for two-and-a-half years but I thought 'f*** it'. I don't turn down fights, I don't care what it is. That's a fighter's instinct."

Deakin is now set to undergo another operation and plans to have one more fight once he has recovered from surgery - "to see if my legs can take it".

But even if his final fight ends in defeat, Deakin says he is proud of what he achieved in his career.

"I always got told that I wouldn't be a boxer by teachers at school because of my disability. I wanted to prove to people that you can do it if you put your mind to it," he added.

"Win or lose I didn't care, I just liked to fight." 

Robin would like to thank Mathew Hunt, the Hunt family and his sponsor Filco Supermarkets for their support.

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: Boxing, Spotlight

Rory O'Callaghan
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