British Middleweight Champion Denzel Bentley last week teamed up with Surrey CCC and the ACE Programme to take on the ‘Boxing vs Cricket’ challenge and offer his advice to aspiring young athletes on dealing with setbacks.
Watch the full interview on YouTube below and keep scrolling down to read how he got on in the nets!
Denzel, nickname ‘2Sharp’, visited The Kia Oval on Wednesday 11th January and received cricketing masterclasses from Surrey Head Coach Gareth Batty, Surrey legend Monte Lynch and ACE Programme Director Chevy Green.
Before hitting the nets in the Ken Barrington Centre, however, Bentley took a short tour of The Kia Oval – describing the venue as “amazing”.
As well as mentally picturing his ringwalk for a potential future World Title fight south of the river, Denzel also met Surrey and England legend Ebony Rainford-Brent and learnt about her career and place in the history books as the first black woman to play for England.
The biting winds ensured the tour was kept brief, and after photos on the pitch and atop the Galadari Stand, Denzel and the ACE Programme contingent headed for the KBC.
Monte Lynch took Bentley through the basics of batting first and, after a couple of misfires, Denzel was soon spraying tennis balls around the room.
After getting a feel for the technique, Gareth Batty took responsibility for the boxer’s development and was soon putting him through his paces on the bowling machine.
Incredibly, having never picked up a cricket bat before, Denzel was able to whack balls being fired at him at 70mph, far exceeding the 55mph reached by the previous boxer to take on the challenge; Isaac ‘IC’ Chamberlain.
Before finishing for the day Bentley would take on a catching drill, still under the watchful eye of Batty.
After impressing with the tennis ball and the incrediball, Denzel would – against the advice of his team – have one go at catching a hard red cricket ball.
Hearts were in mouths as the ball was shot out at 50mph, but the assembled crowd would soon burst into cheers and laughter as the catch was made at the first time of asking with minimal fuss.
After finishing for the day, ACE Director Chevy Green would describe Denzel as “naturally gifted” and invited his team back for another session in future, where the Surrey professionals may be put through their boxing paces.
Take a look at images from a brilliant day at The Kia Oval below: