Fighting is something Barnsley boxer Lee Noble is used to, but the 27-year-old is facing his biggest challenge yet as he takes on leukaemia. He talks to Catherine Scott.
Last October Lee Noble’s boxing career was going from strength to strength. He had won five fights in a row and was training for a world title.
“I really thought this is it, everything is really starting to take off,” says Lee from Dodsworth, Barnsley.
But then the Sheffield Ingle boxer’s world came crashing down when he was diagnosed with leukaemia.
“After my last fight in October I started to feel unwell. I got night sweats and was really aching. The doctor thought it must be something to do with the fight or possibly even arthritis.
“I knew it was more serious with the pain I was in, but I wasn’t showing a lot of the classic signs of leukaemia.”
In the end he was referred to Barnsley Hospital for further tests.
“I was in there for two weeks and it was driving me mad as they didn’t seem to be able to find out what was wrong with me. I even considered discharging myself. But then one of the nurses told me that one of the blood tests had come back and shown that I could have something serious and so she said it was better if I didn’t leave.”
Lee was told that he was suffering from leukaemia and would need to under go intensive chemotherapy.
The light middleweight and middleweight boxer is dealing with his fight against cancer as he would a boxing bout, with Yorkshire grit and determination.
“I am a positive person and I am determined to fight and fight until beat this although the timing was rubbish. I did feel short-changed. All I want to know now is when I can start boxing again.”
Lee, who has a two-year-old daughter, Saffron, took up boxing after his mother Lynda suggested it to him.
“I was about 13 and getting bullied a bit at school, mum suggested that I take up boxing so that I could look after myself and also for something positive to do with my time.
“It really changed my life. Boxing has been such a positive influence in my life, without it I think I might have ended up in prison or even dead.”
After four years at the gym in Barnsley he was approached by Brendan Ingle from the famous Ingle’s gym in Sheffield.
“He told me to come down to the gym sometime and we could talk about me turning professional. I never looked back.”
His mum is a massive influence in his life and he calls her his inspiration.
“Mum suffers from Lupus and MS and needs a wheelchair to get around. She is really worried about me and I don’t want her to be. Whenever I am having treatment or something like a lumbar puncture I just think what she goes through everyday. She inspires me. She is also a huge supporter of me and it was her idea to do fund-raising.”
Since Lee revealed to fans that he was ill on Facebook he has been inundated with good wishes and offers of help from supporters and the boxing world.
“I have been blown away by the messages people have put on Facebook and Twitter. It really helps to cope with what I am going through knowing so many people are rooting for you.
“My mum suggested that I should do something with all the offers of help so that something positive could come out what has happened to me.”
As a result Team Noble was created in a bid to raise money for three important causes:
Sheffield research into stem cell treatment for leukaemia;
Ward P3 Sheffield Hallamshire Hospital, which is a dedicated ward for treating and supporting patients with all forms of leukaemia;
A trust fund for Lee to allow him to set up a gym for children if he is unable to box again.
“I am under going chemo at the moment which is making me really sick. If it works then I am hoping to box again, but if it doesn’t and I need a bone marrow transplant then I won’t be able to box again and so I want to open a boxing gym for kids. It is fantastic way to keep kids out of trouble and I really want to put something back into the community.”
Among the events organised is a 12-hour rock concert next month. Dodworth Rocks for Lee Noble takes place on February 28 on two separate stages.
Then in May a sportsman’s dinner is being held, supported by the Ingles.
“I have always wanted to support cancer charities, even before I was ill I supported children’s cancer charities. I believe it is important to give something back.
“You never know when you might need it. You think it will never happen to you, but in my case it just proves it can happen to anyone,” says Lee.
“It also helps me to focus on something else other than my illness. I am also hoping that by the end of the year I will be well enough to take part in something like a marathon.”
Although Lee is not well enough to train, he spends a lot of his time down at the gym.
“I like the banter,” he says. “And I like to support the other boxers. I just hope that one day I will be able to get back in the ring myself.
“When people tell me I can’t do something it generally makes me want to prove them wrong and so long as I make a full recovery I will fight again. That’s what the doctor said and that’s what I’m aiming for. I also need to keep fighting for Saffron. She is luckily too little to know what is going on, but I am determined to beat this.”
To keep up to date with Lee’s progress or to donate to the Team Noble fund-raising campaign visit https://www.facebook.com/pages/Team-NOBLE-fundraising-page/1014840791875070
Lee Noble can be found Tweeting at @nobleboxer