Veteran Mansfield cruiserweight Steve Ward came out of retirement for a third time this month to win back his Guinness Book of Records title of world’s oldest active boxer at the age of 59.
Ward didn’t win the fight – against an opponent 24 years his junior – but the patriotic fighter is proud to have regained the oldest boxer record for England after American Mike Palmer took Ward’s accolade, aged 57 years and 327 days.
Team Body and Soul fighter Ward has no plans for a third retirement yet and is now hoping to travel to American to fight rival Palmer next summer.
Three years after his second retirement, ‘The Legend’ hung up his gloves for a third time in November 2014 after a narrow points defeat to Leicester’s talented Arek Drezek.
However, Ward was still recognised by the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s oldest active professional boxer, which was a title he first took in June 2011 at the age of 54.
However, that suddenly changed with the shock news his title has gone across the Atlantic and the gloves were dusted down for action again.
“My wife was on the internet and suddenly said she had some bad news for me,” said Ward.
“It couldn’t have been any worse. I was devastated. An American had nipped in under the radar and taken my record.
“I said straight away I had got to get it back for England. Boxing was founded here. The Queensbury Rules were founded here. I had to get it back.
“I managed that. I sorted it out with the Guinness Book of Records and now the record is back here in England where it belongs.
“I feel very proud. It means a lot to me. If nothing else I am very patriotic. “England is England – full stop. If you can’t be proud of the country you come from then there is something wrong.”
He added: “I am definitely not retiring and hope my next fight will be my biggest fight ever.
“It will probably be in America which is a pity as it would have been nice to have it in Mansfield.
“The fight would be against my main adversary – the American, Mike Palmer, who took my record. There is a lot of needle between us now.
“I am waiting on a decision from the Malta Boxing Commission now and we will just have to wait and see. It would be May or June and I will be ready for him.
“I will train hard and train well which I will need to do as it will be 12 rounds and I am almost 60.
“At least I am going to be fighting someone who is only two years younger instead of half my age for a change. I am really up for it.”
In the meantime Ward is left recovering from the recent defeat to 35-year-old Meikle.
“The best guy won on the day - he was too strong for me, but at least I got the record,” he said.
“Age was a factor for the first time in my career. I got put down a few times, but I kept getting up.
“I have pulled arm ligaments, but that’s to be expected as, at this age, you are going to pull things.
“You just grin and bear it – that’s all you can do. I was going to take a couple of days off over Christmas anyway so it’s come at the right time.”
Ward, who grew up in Nottingham and now lives in Mansfield and works in Derbyshire, turned professional in 1977 and retired in 1987 before making a comeback in 2010.
Recent tests on Ward’s cardio and fitness came back saying he had the body of a 24-year-old.
Ward’s Body & Soul promoter, former boxer and gym owner, Roger Brotherhood, said: “I think Steve is fantastic and he is a credit to his age.
“He is an inspiration and his preparation was second to none. I can’t fault him. He has looked after himself inside and outside the ring.”