A FORMER professional sportsman has been given a courtroom chance to restart his boxing career.
Andrew Ross, of Southwick, once excelled in his chosen sport and even got his name into the Guinness Book of World Records for doing 10,000 press-ups in one day which raised cash for charity.
He was also set to attempt a world record by taking part in a punchbag marathon for 40 hours, but it got scrapped because of a court case.
Despite his promising prospects, and 18 months Army service which included a rescue mission to Sierra Leone, the 30-year-old has repeatedly been in trouble with the police and was in court for a petrol-stealing scam.
In just over a fortnight between September and October last year, Ross helped himself to more than £220 of petrol from garage forecourts in Sunderland and Durham and drove off with no intention of paying.
He confessed to the thefts when he was caught after a police chase on November 4, which saw him driving through red lights and on the wrong side of the road for 200 metres.
Ross pleaded guilty to 13 offences including theft, driving while disqualified and dangerous driving and faced a prison sentence at Newcastle Crown Court last week.
But his barrister Jamie Adams told the court Ross is determined to stay out of trouble, find work, and restart his boxing career.
Mr Adams said: “He was a professional boxer. There is one bout imminent.”
Speaking from the dock, Ross told the court he wanted to turn his back on crime.
He said: “I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to do it, you know.”
Mr Recorder Andrew Haslam adjourned the case to give Ross a chance to stick to his word.
The judge told him: “I am bound to say, I am yet to be convinced the imposition of an immediate custodial sentence ought not to follow in your case.”
Recorder Haslam said Ross has six months to prove he can stay out of trouble and make a determined effort to find work.
The judge said: “If you don’t I will lock you up straight away.”
And the judge encouraged Ross to get back to boxing.
He said: “If you can develop your profession as a boxer, so much the better, try and find more bouts, give your life some purpose over the next six months.”
Ross, of Carley Road, told the judge: “Thank you for giving me the chance.”