TODAY we launch Worcester Legends – profiles of the ‘ordinary people’ who make our city such a great place to live due to their passion, dedication and kindness.

We’ll be telling their stories every Tuesday in the newspaper and on our website.

AMATEUR boxing coach Michael Underwood was among the first people to be nominated as a Worcester Legend.

Known as ‘Uncle Mick’ to the talented young boxers he’s produced in his four decades as head coach at Worcester City Amateur Boxing Club (ABC), Mr Underwood was nominated by his son, James.

“It’s a bit biased to vote for my dad but he’s been the Worcester ABC coach for over 40 years, where he voluntarily trains young people four or five nights a week and never fails to turn up,” said James.

“He’s produced a lot of talent and as of last week produced another national schoolboy champion, Denny Smith.”

In May, Michael, aged 66, underwent open heart surgery in Bristol after suffering a heart attack last November, though he was quickly back at the Vincent Road gym once he’d recovered.

“He’s never been paid for any of the coaching and he goes all over the country for different fights – quite a lot of national finals,” said James.

Michael, who worked as a mechanic for many years before taking early retirement following an injury, started boxing at the gym when he was 16.

He said: “I’ve been coaching all my life, really. Even when I was boxing myself, I was organising the others, helping them out.

“The aim is to teach these kids amateur boxing, but it’s also about self-control, to get rid of their aggression in the gym, not out on the street.

“But you’re always looking for the next champion, looking for the next Anthony Joshua.”

Joe Joyce is the latest of Michael’s proteges to turn pro and, asked if he would ever call it quits at the gym, the coaching legend said: “They will have to carry me away.”

“The week before I went in for the op, I was at championships in Newcastle,” he added. “I think if you want something in life, if you enjoy it, you just keep doing it.

“I couldn’t see myself just sitting at home, watching TV.”

While he was working full-time, Michael said he would “go straight to the gym from work, then home”.

“I’ve gone to shows then not got back until 4am and then to work for 8am,” he said.

James said: “When dad was in hospital, guys he’s trained from years gone by were coming from all over the place to see him. It was incredible.

“I’m an extremely proud son and think his commitment to Worcester means he is a true Worcester legend, and many would agree,” he added.

lTo nominate a Worcester Legend, email