When I was writing my notes for post fight interviews on a Hellraiser Boxing show at York Hall back in October 2017, I was intrigued by the debut of a former Aston Villa striker getting a lot of press in Birmingham. Not because of the switch in sports, but because Reiss “Showy” Taylor was advertised as Britain’s shortest professional boxer. Being vertically challenged myself, I was already a fan.
At four feet eleven, or five one depending on your source, Taylor’s fight was against another debutante, Kaisy Khademi. London based Afghan Khademi is a man with his own fascinating story, but that’s for another day. The bout, an opener in a yet to fill York Hall, grew into a shoot out as Showy and the much bigger Kaisy went at one another.
“I just thought let’s have it! You’ve got boxers and then you’ve got fighters, some people have that in them and we just both have that fighting mentality. I just thought let’s have it. It was an absolute bloodbath. It was some fight.”
Showy is more than complimentary about his former foe, and understands first hand why opponents are less than keen to take still unbeaten Khademi on.
“He’s a tough bastard that’s why. He’s big risk little reward, that’s why. He’s an animal, great fighter, but the other fighters don’t want that smoke. The geezer looks like Bruce Lee!”
In the near two years since that fight, which Showy lost on Lee Every’s card, the Birmingham man has had a mixed time of it. Issues selling tickets, a controversial disqualification but also a wonderful one punch knockout of Jack Smith and a points win over veteran road warrior Anwar Alfadi.
It’s a fallow field of fighters in the lower weight classes (Taylor can make flyweight, super fly and bantam) and a few wins can shoot a fighter up the rankings again very quickly. That small talent pool does carry with it the problem of actually getting fights, and then you have to take in every small hall boxer’s perennial problems.
“You manage to sort a fight out, and then you can’t fight because you don’t have the money because of selling tickets and sponsors, and then even the tickets you do sell are just to cover your opponent, and if you sell maybe a hundred you earn yourself a little after that.”
Just being popular isn’t enough, Showy is a friendly guy, a primary school teaching assistant who doesn’t appear to have a malicious streak at all. Outside of the ring, that is.
“I know a lot of people here in Birmingham, but it’s not just knowing people, it’s getting the support. You can be liked as a person but being supported as a boxer is a different thing 100%.”
There is also, Taylor laments, a lack of kudos for the little men, pointing to another Brummie by way of proof. “It’s mad cos Kal Yafai is a world champion and he can walk through Birmingham calm, and it makes you think damn, he’s Britain’s longest reigning world world champion*. If I was him I’d be talking some shit man, get myself out there!
It’s sad, its sad its sad its sad. But that’s the game we’re in.”
Showy has a rather bizarre Team Southpaw Jab connection- being signed up to fight our team member, the ever so slightly bonkers but hugely beloved Jack Hughes. Jack announced that he was fighting Reiss in one of our many team WhatsApp groups. The bout was even listed on BoxRec and I was excited for two fighters I know and like to be facing off in what would be one hell of a fight.
Taylor met the news with sheer confusion.
“It was you who told me that I’m fighting Jack, and I said this is news to my ears Ad!
I ask about it and I’ve been put on to fight without my knowledge! My medicals hadn’t been done so I can’t fight Mr Hughes. I understand that he thinks I’ve pulled out but I’d say it wasn’t lack of communication it was no communication whatsoever.”
Would he fight Jack, at some point, though? “Absolutely”.
Fortunately, there are exciting things coming soon for the proud Brummie. A local enterprise, TST Promotions, has switched from white collar to professional promotion, and Showy has been given a November 9th fight date. He’s delighted to have a date, chance to fight in his home town and appear live on Fite TV.
“I’m looking forward to fighting in my home city and look I could go on the road but I want to be in Birmingham in front of my people. Obviously I was at Aston Villa [football club] from age eight to sixteen, it was hard leaving but that’s the game… I’ll always have love for them but I don’t really have a team I support.”
“When I was sixteen we fought, I mean played- I’ve got boxing on the brain, Spurs and I scored four goals in the first half. Gordan “Sid” Cowans, Villa legend, subbed me at half time and we conceded four in the second half. I’m still screwing to this day!
Only Sid knows why he did that.”
In Reiss Taylor’s five feet stature there’s more personality than many heavyweights have in their hulking humanity. There’s more fight, too. It’s always a pleasure talking to him and he’s a boxer, like many others, who is fighting the system to fight in the ring. Showy, unsurprisingly, loves to entertain. He’s displayed guts and one punch power over his two professional years.
Even with an upcoming fight, Reiss is ready to go back to work at his school now, after the traditional six week break. “The sun’s gone so it’ll be easier. Summer dun!”
Come November Birmingham boxing fans will be able to see Showy the show man laced up and performing on the canvas. They should take up the opportunity.
For ticket news and sponsorship info (he’ll be on TV in November) follow Showy on social media
@showytheshowman: Twitter/ Instagram
Showy Alkaline: Facebook
*Yafai has held the WBA Super Flyweight World Title since December 2016, longer than any other current British world champion (holding a “big four” belt)