Sykes and Tate featured in new book Unfinished Agony

Former two time British champion Gary Sykes along with respected Dewsbury amateur boxing coach Keith Tate are both featured in a new book about notorious Wakefield boxer turned author Paul Sykes.

Friday, 31st March 2017, 5:51 am
Updated Saturday, 8th April 2017, 10:14 pm
Former two time British champion Gary Sykes along with renowned amateur coach Keith Tate are both featured in Jamie Boyles book on notorious Wakefield heavyweight fighter Paul Sykes.

The book, Unfinished Agony, has been written by Jamie Boyle, who lives in Northallerton.

Boyle’s book consists of 50 interviews of family, former friends, acquaintances, opponents and other people from the boxing fraternity who came across Paul Sykes.

Paul Sykes wrote an award winning book, Sweet Agony, while he was in prison in 1988 and he also featured in a television documentary about his life in and out of prison.

When Gary Sykes began his boxing career as a 15-year-old amateur people used to ask if he was related to Paul Sykes.

Gary explained: “I asked my then amateur coach, Keith Tate, who is this Paul Sykes everyone is asking if I’m related to?

“It was then I started to take an interest in him. He was just so interesting and he could have gone on to do so much more because he comes across as being very clever and intellectual.

“To say Paul had such a relatively short career in boxing, he is still talked about in Yorkshire boxing circles.”

Keith Tate boxed and trained with Paul Sykes as a teenager at Robin Hood and Thorpe Amateur BC near Wakefield.

He went on to run successful amateur gyms in Dewsbury and Cleckheaton and coached countless local boxers, including Gary.

Tate said: “I’ve had 31 national champions and 20 different boys box for England.

“James Hare, Gary Sykes, Steven Conway and Jenson Garforth were all my lads and all of these came from the Batley and Dewsbury ABC.”

Tate also speaks of times he and Paul Sykes trained and boxed together as youngsters, including a memorable trip to Germany.

Author Boyle said: “Paul fought John L Gardner for the British and Commonwealth title in 1979. I watched the documentary on him and my interest grew from there .

“He was known to be Britain’s most difficult prisoner in the 70s and 80s and when that documentary was made in 1990 he had spent 21 out of 26 years in 18 different prisons.

“It amazed me how he’d managed to be fighting for a British title on the diet and facilities that he had in prison, that in itself was some achievement.

“While in prison Paul earned an Open University Degree in Physical Sciences and won the Arthur Koestler award for prison literature for his book Sweet Agony.

“Unfinished Agony contains 50 interviews with various people who knew Paul including his sister, John L Gardner, Johnny Nelson, Glenn McCrory, Mickey Vann, Neil Malpass, Nick Manners, Keith Tate and Gary Sykes.

“People had differing opinions on Paul, some wouldn’t hear a bad word said against him but some said that he was a bully and a violent psychopath.”

Paul Sykes died on March 7 2007 and Boyle’s book Sykes Unfinished Agony was published on the 10th anniversary of his passing.

Sykes Unfinished Agony has a Facebook page and the book is available to buy on Amazon for kindle and in paperback.