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Ricky Hatton in training

Ricky Hatton

Monday May 5, 2008Micah Sparrs with Ricky

By Tom Beech | In Charity

Micah sparred with Ricky Hatton as part of the Premier League’s Creating Chances project, this took place at the Bettabodies gym in Denton.

One is renowned for his feet, the other for his fists, but Micah and Ricky Hatton’s meeting as part of a Manchester-based initiative to get people in the city active was one to behold.

The Manchester City defender and the multiple world boxing champion were invited down to the Bettabodies Gym in Denton, Manchester by organisers of the Premier League’s Creating Chances scheme, with the 20-year old joining another of the city’s icons in the ring as they exchanged friendly blows.

In partnership with City in The Community’s (CITC) Getting Manchester Moving project, the event was arranged in order to promote amateur boxing within the area, looking to encourage youngsters to invest time in the gym rather than on the streets.

The wider aims of the initiative are to show the city’s population the benefits of physical exercise, with latest figures showing that as much as 25% of all Mancunians do no exercise at all, while a paltry one in five do thirty minutes or more per week.

And who better to help publicise the honourable cause than England international Micah, who has taken English football by storm since his debut in 2005, and one of the most successful boxers of all time and Manchester native Ricky Hatton.

The life of a professional sportsman, such as Micah or Ricky’s, requires intensive conditioning and training, and the two idols in their fields offered spectators from the local area tips on how to devise their own exercise routine.

Already, Getting Manchester Moving – which began in January 2007 – is making waves around the city, with over 10,000 people participating, and the Football Foundation were convinced enough to agree to fund the project for a further three years.

Manchester City FC are one of the most vocal supporters of the scheme, joining other organisations such as Manchester City Council and the Manchester Public Health Development Service in spreading the word.

The partnership organises specific campaigns targeting various members of the wide demographic that make up Manchester, and one such project – coordinated by the Eastlands-club and Manchester Leisure and named ‘Dads and Lads’ – utilised the popularity of the two sportsmen as it appealed to the male members of families in the city.

On the event, Micah told “I was honoured to be asked to come down to meet and train with Ricky Hatton, and equally privileged to have the opportunity to encourage members of the public to exercise.

“Ideally, people should be exercised five times a week for 30 minutes, but the appeal of computer games and other activities seems to have taken people’s focus away from their fitness.
Sometimes people just need an outsider to give them hints and tips, and with the availability of expert advice at Manchester City, I’m only too pleased to pass on certain advice.

It’s not about trying to become a professional footballer or boxer – though that would certainly be possible if people train enough – but it’s about looking after yourself to avoid some of the problems caused by a lack of exercise.”

The event was not the first time Micah had taken an active role in encouraging youngsters to get active, and the youngster regularly returns to his home city of Leeds to promote the playing of football in order to stay healthy.