GARY Sykes may have lost his British super featherweight title on Saturday but there is no questioning his status as a local star after the backing he received in Sheffield.
More than 300 fans from Dewsbury descended on the Steel City to cheer on their hero, with 80 travelling by coach from the Fox and Hounds pub in Hanging Heaton, while others booked hotels to make a night of it.
Among those travelling to the fight was local councillor Paul Kane and his son James. One group of supporters had made a huge England flag with Dewsbury written on and had it on display at the arena.
Before the fight Gary had also received a telegram from the Mayor of Kirklees, Eric Firth, passing on the best wishes on behalf of the people of Dewsbury.
Although Gary suffered a narrow points defeat to Cardiff’s Gary Buckland the Dewsbury man was keen to thank his terrific support and made a point of boarding both coaches before they returned home.
The mood among fans was summed up by Brian Peace, from Hanging Heaton, who said: “What a fantastic gesture it was from Gary to come and meet us after the fight.
“It just shows the kind of guy he is. What other sportsman would come out after he had just been beaten? It was absolutely fantastic.
“To have somebody from Dewsbury achieve what Gary has, is just amazing.”
Gary’s Facebook webpage has been inundated with messages of support from all over the country.
Keir Jamie Mackay, said: “On behalf of everyone I know and spoke to in Batley and Dewsbury — we are proud of you! You are a true Warrior.
“You will always be a champion in and out of the ring because you’re a champion person! Top bloke and a great fighter.”
Geoffrey Sayers added: “Great fight Gary, you did yourself and Dewsbury proud. Had him in trouble a couple of times in the later rounds.
“Well done, you’ve put Dewsbury on the map for the right reasons.”
Premiership footballer Joey Barton had, apparently, watched the fight live on Sky and he tweeted his praise for both fighters serving up such a thrilling contest.