THE Deco Theatre in Northampton will be full when Mo Prior promotes there on Sunday (October 10). The show features twins Carl and Ben Fail and between them, they have sold 300 tickets.
“They all went in six days,” said Carl, the younger twin by around a minute. “The support is humbling.”
Every time they fight, Carl and Ben think about who won’t be there. Mark Fail took his sons to Far Cotton Amateur Boxing Club when they were 12 years old.
Ben said: “Dad went to the park one day and Carl was having a fight. He heard that I’d given someone a black eye as well. We had moved from Newcastle so we had Geordie accents – and we were skinny as well.
“That made us a target, but we always stood up for ourselves. Dad found out what was going on and said: ‘You’re going boxing.’ Dad had been a doorman in London and had done some training, so he knew we had it in us and he loved us boxing. The morning after we had boxed we’d get up and dad was sitting there watching our fights. He had been up all night watching our fights over and over again. He would say: ‘Son, look at what you did here.’”
Mark died nine years ago when the twins were 15 years old.
“We thought dad was coming out of hospital,” said Ben, “and then we got a call saying he had fallen into a coma and we had lost him. We went straight to the gym and said: ‘Our dad just passed away. We will see you soon.’”
Sometimes Carl fights back tears when he talks about his father and Ben steps in to finish his sentences for him.
“It’s lovely to see them together,” said John Daly, who coached the southpaws throughout their amateur careers and is still with them now. “They are the best of friends. They need to be with each other. They don’t compete with each other.”
“There was a show in Northampton when they were short of bouts,” said Carl, “so me and Ben had an exhibition. It stole the show. We went at it for three rounds non-stop. We just traded shots and the crowd loved it. We were only babies then, we weren’t going to hurt each other. We stopped sparring each other when we were 15.”
Daly, whose 17-fight pro career peaked with a nobbins’ points win over Ray Price on a BBC televised show in December, 1979, has been at every spar, every fight and will be in the corner in Northampton.
“Nobody knows what John has done for us since we were 11 years old,” said Carl. “He never charged us a penny to train. He knew we couldn’t afford it.”
Ben added: “John has done everything for us.”
Boxing rescued Daly as well.
He ended up in intensive care after being stabbed 39 times in 1998 and once he had won his fight for life, he reopened the Far Cotton gym and put everything into his fighters.
“We’ve been open seven days a week for the last 18 years,” said Daly and the rewards of that hard work are there on the gym’s walls.
They are covered in newspaper cuttings about Chantelle Cameron, Ash Lane, Drew Brown, Nathan Reeve and more. The Fails first featured on the pages of the Northampton Chronicle and Echo when they were 12 years old.
“We kept bursting out laughing when the photographer pointed the camera at us,” said Carl. “We were really shy back then.”
Carl made plenty of headlines in 2016. He won the Elite, Tri Nations and Great Britain championships, the latter with a win over Conor Loftus that took him into the Great Britain squad. Fail went on to pick up silver medals from the European under-22 (2018) and European Union championships (2018) before his hopes of qualifying for the Olympics were dashed by a bicep injury.
“I believe that everything happens for a reason,” said Carl, who says mother Barbara prepares all the twins’ meals. “I wasn’t meant to go to the Olympics. The goal was always to be a professional anyway, right from the start. John has always loved pro boxing and we used to look up to Nathan Reeve and Ashley Lane. We went to watch them fight on pro shows and now Nathan comes to watch us.”
Ben turned pro after 78 amateur bouts, reaching the 2018 Elite middleweight final and winning Haringey Box Cup gold (2016). “People have been telling me since I was 13 years old: ‘You have a pro style’ and that’s always been in the back of my mind,” he said. “It always took me a round to warm into a fight and if it’s a fight, I’m in my comfort zone. I like a fight. If they want to put it on me, I will give it back.”
Sky Sports viewers saw Ben launch his professional career last September with a six-round points win over Robbie Chapman (6-4).
“He got away with it,” said Fail, who says he didn’t get out of second gear after breaking his right hand in the fourth round.
Ben told Sky afterwards: “Carl is better than me” and Carl is now 2-0, following a points win over Jordan Dujon (4-0) with a stoppage of Kristaps Zulgis (5-16-3).
Next is the show in Northampton. “We’ve talked about a night like this for years,” said Ben.