PETER FLANAGAN – a former pro super-lightweight and welterweight who fought out of Nat Basso’s gym in Manchester in the 1980s – was diagnosed with dementia pugilistica two-and-a-half months ago, but the inspirational 60-year-old is not going to let his condition keep him down.
“Since being diagnosed with dementia pugilistica, I’ve had to give up my driving licence, and I can’t see that I’ll be working,” Flanagan said. “The diagnosis was obviously a negative, so I thought to myself, ‘I’m going to try to make something positive out of this.’ That’s why I’m aiming to raise money for the awareness and prevention of dementia.”
In order to shine a light on the disease, Peter has signed up to a gruelling charity hike along the Great Wall of China on October 22, with proceeds going to the Alzheimer’s Society.
Flanagan – who played football in his youth for Manchester United – was forced to retire from boxing due to injury in 1985. However, he has continued to remain in shape.
“I suffered a detached retina in my last fight [against Mickey Bird],” Flanagan recalled. “I had a seven-hour operation at Manchester Royal Eye Hospital. The surgery repaired my peripheral vision, but left me short-sighted.
“I’ve predominantly been in the building and pub trade since retiring from boxing, but I’ve never actually stopped boxing training. I still do it now. I go out running twice a week, and I do 10-minute rounds on the punch bag. I also do a bit of weights. It’s just a matter of staying fit. I really enjoy it.”
Despite already possessing an impressive level of fitness for his age, the grandfather of 11 has still been working very hard in preparation for his daunting challenge in Asia.
“The guy I’m doing it with, Colin Jordan, is an accomplished walker,” Peter informed. “He’s been taking me out every Friday on long walks. We’re fortunate that where we live in Glossop, we’re right on the doorstep of the Peak District. So I’m walking miles and miles with Colin in order to get ready for the trek.
“In addition to the long walks every Friday, I’m training as if I’m preparing for a fight! My abs have started showing again and everything! It’s given me some positivity. I’ve started teaching myself a bit of Chinese off the internet too. I practise it in the local chippy! The owner loves to hear it! This sort of thing will keep my mind a bit more active.”
With just over four months to go until the trek begins, Flanagan hopes to raise as much money as possible for an incredibly worthy cause.
“I’d love the promoters like Frank Warren and Eddie Hearn to contribute to this charity, because the boxers are the ones who take the knocks in the ring,” Peter concluded. “It’d be great if the promoters showed concern for the fighters by supporting this cause, as it’d benefit boxers in the future.”