“WHAT the f*** am I going to do with my life?” Luke Willis struggled to find a fraction of hope sitting in his car parked by the factory where he alternated mind-numbing shifts every fortnight. Willis wanted more. Examining his co-workers, men in their 50s with over 30 years of service which had left them bitter, but too regimented to make changes to a familiar lifestyle, Willis demanded better and he finally convinced himself that he had the talent to go out there and achieve it.
Perfecting his boxing craft at various Liverpool fight schools, most notably St Aloysius ABC, which was founded by his father Kenny, Willis had flirted with a variety of amateur tournaments. But success at senior level had cruelly eluded him as he suffered multiple hand injuries. Unable to participate in the 2012 ABAs due to a slight fracture in his right hand, Willis, an impulsive figure, bizarrely neglected boxing altogether. Now he is wise enough to admit that the decision to storm out of his beloved sport was wrong.
“I swerved boxing because I had a daughter to raise,” reflects Willis. “I’m one of those lads who has to give something my all if I’m going to have a go at it and boxing was just giving me problem after problem with injuries so I went home and told my mum that I was finished with it and I started looking for a job straight away. I was working for a few years and hated every job I had, but it brought money in and looking after my little girl had to be the priority. Do I wonder where my career would be now if I would’ve been a bit more patient back then? Of course, who wouldn’t?”
Dreams of fistic glory, the staple of Willis’ adolescent existence, reappeared in brief glimpses. Willis couldn’t let go of boxing entirely, but he would have to relinquish other aspects of his life.