Legendary Sunderland boxer Billy Hardy throws weight behind punchy play at The Fire Station

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Sunderland’s most successful boxer is supporting a fight-themed National Theatre production at The Fire Station.

Billy Hardy, former British, European and Commonwealth champion, will be among the audience at Sucker Punch, an award-winning play running at The Fire Station between June 21 and 23.

The play, by leading British playwright Roy Williams, tells the story of two best friends, Leon and Troy, who have spent their teenage years growing up in a boxing gym.

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It explores themes such as class, anger, poverty and of being young and black in the 1980s. It first opened at London’s Royal Court in 2010 and won the Writers Guild Award for Best Play.

Former boxer Billy Hardy, left, will be interviewed by journalist Graeme Anderson and will take questions from the audience before the play on Wednesday, June 21.Former boxer Billy Hardy, left, will be interviewed by journalist Graeme Anderson and will take questions from the audience before the play on Wednesday, June 21.
Former boxer Billy Hardy, left, will be interviewed by journalist Graeme Anderson and will take questions from the audience before the play on Wednesday, June 21.

The Fire Station stage will be transformed into a boxing ring for the play, which producers say is “a thrillingly-staged spectacle of blood, sweat and tears” as well as “tender, bruising and funny.”

Billy will take part in a question and answer session with former Echo sports journalist Graeme Anderson before the opening performance on Wednesday, June 21.

Billy said: “I’m looking forward to the Q&A and I’m looking forward to meeting the cast of Sucker Punch and watching the show.

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“I’ve heard details about the show from my old boxing pal Michael Watson (Commonwealth middleweight champion 1989-1991) who did a Q&A when the show was staged in London. He had only good things to say about it.

The award-winning play Sucker Punch is at The Fire Station between Wednesday, June 21 and Friday, June 23. Picture ©Manuel Harlan.The award-winning play Sucker Punch is at The Fire Station between Wednesday, June 21 and Friday, June 23. Picture ©Manuel Harlan.
The award-winning play Sucker Punch is at The Fire Station between Wednesday, June 21 and Friday, June 23. Picture ©Manuel Harlan.

“I think it’s great that boxing is taking centre stage in a theatre production. They might seem like very different worlds, but there are similarities there in terms of performance, nerves, entertainment, confidence and bravery.”

Graeme will interview Billy about the tough upbringing the Hylton Castle scrapper overcame to win international boxing fame. The public will have the chance to ask their own questions of the former champ.

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Graeme said: “Our Q&A session before the first performance of Sucker Punch will be interesting to everyone; if you’re a boxing fan or not.”

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Wallop! Former boxer Billy Hardy, left, will be interviewed by journalist Graeme Anderson and will take questions from the audience before the play on Wednesday, June 21.Wallop! Former boxer Billy Hardy, left, will be interviewed by journalist Graeme Anderson and will take questions from the audience before the play on Wednesday, June 21.
Wallop! Former boxer Billy Hardy, left, will be interviewed by journalist Graeme Anderson and will take questions from the audience before the play on Wednesday, June 21.

Billy started boxing at Hylton Castle Boys Club aged six. He went on to have a glittering career, usually showing his Wearside allegiances by fighting in red and white striped shorts.

Sucker Punch contains strong adult language and is suitable for those aged 14 or over. Tickets are from £11 at www.thefirestation.org.uk.

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