Joe finds out about the legalities of fighting but makes the journey anyway, whilst Tim has to make a stop in another town, fuelling Joes curiosity into what he was getting mixed up in
Finishing my food, I headed out to Tim's Merc, totally ignoring him. He kept a keen eye on me as I walked out the door, making sure I wasn’t doing a runner.
My cheeks bright red and fists clenched in my jeans pocket, I was annoyed but slightly calmer than ten minutes ago. All those years ago, I’d made the decision to hang up my gloves so my family weren’t raised in a fighter's world, and now, I was about to walk into an unlicensed boxing show.
Agitated and out-of-sorts now, I just had to get this done and dusted. Tim wandered casually out of the house with a ring bag I expected was full of fight gear. Passing me as he walked round the car to the driver’s door, I blanked him.
“Come on ‘en. Let’s get going.”
Jumping into the car, I immediately laid it out. “Look, don’t speak to me on the way down the road. I can’t be fucked wi’ you right now.”
“Don’t be like that lad.”
“I said don’t fuckin’ talk, just drive.” I snapped at him, talking from the side of my mouth, burning a glance at his face, and he got the point.
“Alright Joe, whatever you say.”
Staring out the window at the path I was taking, left me deep in thought about what I was walking into. What kind of world would this be? Who’s this Steve Dean that Tim fears so much? I couldn’t stop fidgeting in the car, using my phone to keep my hands busy, spitting out and replacing chewing gum every ten minutes. I was anxious about the whole affair, but at the end of the day, it was still a fight, a fight I had to win more than ever now.
The conversation was non-existent, apart from Tim taking a couple of phone calls. Things started to make more sense now. Kilgours was full of raw boxers loaded on steroids, dodgy characters and bad attitudes. It fitted the scene of the unlicensed scrappers. Kilgours was named after an old street in Tillydrone. Kilgour Avenue. The name changed to Alexander Terrace in the late sixties because of its notorious reputation for crime.
I always wondered why the sparring was so brutal and now I knew, now it made sense. The kind of bout I’d be in tonight wouldn't be the kind you see on TV between two professionals. The rules might be there, but wouldn’t be followed.
Guessed it would be more like street-fighting than anything. You could be up against any cunt, an ex con, ex-army, a psycho or an ex-fighter, like me, I just didn’t know what to expect.
About a half hour into the journey, Tim broke silence. “Joe, I’ve got to make a pick-up. It’s a little detour through Montrose. Won’t take long.”
“Whatever.” I couldn’t go the rest of the day without speaking to him.
He reversed into an industrial estate, stopping at the rear of a small shabby-looking building with faded cream paint and no windows, just a roller-door big enough for a car and an entrance by the side. It looked like the back of a vacant shop.
Tim disappeared inside, leaving me alone in the car. The roller-door opened after ten minutes, letting me see inside the building, which was brightly lit with a white light and untidy. I could make out a couple printing machines and piles of scrunched up, ink stained paper scattered around.
Tim popped the boot of the car while I eyed him in the side mirror, watching curiously to see what he was up to. A short, slimy bald guy sidled out carrying a couple of briefcases, his fingers and arms covered in ink.
Tim placed the briefcases in the boot and chatted for a couple of minutes. Out from the side door came another man. A malicious, dodgy looking character, wearing one of those black puffed-up jackets, sleeves rolled up to his elbows and drawing on a smoke.
He stood, reading from a slip of paper in front of Tim. I couldn’t make out the conversation, but it sounded like figures. Tim handed over an envelope, which I assumed was cash. Sticking it into his back pocket, the dodgy man glanced into the side mirror, catching my stare, arms by his side, the fag hanging out his mouth. His evil intimidating glare sent a shiver through me, an aura of pure hatred in his eyes. Turning his back, I stared at a massive swastika tattoo on the back of his head. One of those Nazi white supremacist types. Tim finished his business, shook hands, and returned to the car.
“What the fuck was going on there?”
“I can’t tell you lad. You don’t need to know.”
“You’re into some dodgy shit, aren’t you?”
“Just doing a pick-up, that’s all.”
“Need to know basis, I get it.”
“The less you know the better, the way I see it.”
“This part o’ your income?”
“Nae exactly. I don’t make any profit from this. I’m just doing Bull a favour.”
That day was getting stranger with every passing hour. Bull seemed like a big-time criminal. I felt myself getting sucked in. I wanted to find out what was in the briefcases.
“So, how do you make your money ‘en? Surely can’t all be from thieving?” I asked.
“Thieving? Less o’ the swearing. I suppose I can tell you, but it stays between us.”
“Well, I don’t think I’ll be talking about this day for a long time so I think you’re safe.”
“See this unlicensed show we’re going to? Mike and Bull pay me to train the guys and find the fighters. I make a lot of money on the night, placing bets on who I think will win an’ most of the time, I know. Plus, the thieving adds up, then there’s the wee bit of scrap dealin’ I do.”
The part about Mike and Bull paying him to find and train the guys, I figured out for myself on the way to Montrose. The betting I couldn’t have known about.
“Bets? What bets? There’s betting at these things?”
“There’s always a bookie at these shows and whoever runs the show, provides the bookies. It’s one o’ the main reasons they happen. It’s a major slice o’ the profits.”
“You betting on me?”
“Don’t worry about that. Just do the business the night. I never bet on my own guys if I think they’re going to lose. There’s usually about three or four fights a night, so there’s a good chance of making a few quid.”
Things started to fall into place here. Tim thought he’d get me in the door, use me as a puppet to make some cash, not thinking twice about playing with my emotions, or my safety. Not sure he would be betting on me tonight, but my instinct told me he would.
We spent the rest of the journey to Dundee discussing how much money he made in the past. Tens of thousands, he said. Saying he had a gift, able to pick the winner just by the return of a look. Involved in the game for years, it became second nature.
I quizzed him on the rules for the evening, looking to ease my worry. The fight would take place in a ring, I would wear gloves. That was all I needed to know.