SIMON Cowell is nowhere to be seen, but Sunderland’s Kirk Goodings is trying to impress the judges in what has been dubbed boxing’s version of the X Factor.
The 21-year-old, inset, from Nookside has been at London’s famous Peacock Gym, in Canning Town, after being selected as a finalist in the Camp 24 competition.
For one lucky fighter, a deal with promoter Frank Maloney is on offer, while three others will be signed up by the Peacock Gym’s Stamina For Sale team, which boasts the back-up of professional coaches, fitness and conditioning experts and even a chiropractor.
Hundreds of young boxers aged 17 to 24 – most of them still amateur – responded to adverts for Camp 24, but Goodings was selected as one of the 24 to strut his stuff at the East End gym.
He said: “It looked like a good chance for me so I put my name in. I made it into the 24 and then the final 12.
“I’ve spent this week in London with fighters at loads of different weights trying to prove I should get the deal with Frank Warren.”
The 24 have been put through a variety of fitness tests, bag work, pads and sparring.
Lightweight Goodings, who has five pro wins to his name after coming off the production line of Sunderland Amateur Boxing Club, is undeterred by the prospect of gambling with a new life in the capital.
“I’m a qualified electrician now and I think that kind of work will be a bit easier to find in London,” he said.
“If I could get a deal and keep busy as a pro boxer as well, then I wouldn’t mind giving it a crack.
“There’s no a lot of work at the minute up home so it seems like a good time for a new challenge.”
Camp 24 organiser Tunde Ajayi – a boxing coach and promoter for the last 11 years – said: “We said the competition is like the boxing version of the X Factor but it’s more serious than that.
“There are no Wagners in this competition and if there are they’re going to get punched in the nose.
“We’re lucky because we travelled four times last year; twice we went to Freddie Roach’s gym in Los Angeles and twice we went to Floyd Mayweather’s gym in Las Vegas. So we’ve seen both sides, we know what it takes.
“Everybody can say I want to be a world champion but you need people around you that have experienced going to gyms in other countries to show you the kind of hunger and desire that’s needed.”