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Squirrel injury won't halt El Maachi rise
2:24pm Thursday 12th September 2013 in Latest Sport
STIRK House trainer Kevin Maree has signed a three-year deal to manage Yassine El Maachi – as the former Prizefighter champion prepares to return from an injury sustained chasing a squirrel up a tree in Gisburn.
El Maachi has not fought since winning the Prizefighter welterweight tournament on Sky Sports in June 2011, because of a deteriorating knee injury.
Maree has previously worked with the Moroccan-born fighter and will now also manage the 33-year-old, who is tentatively pencilled in for a return on December 7.
His injury was initially sustained in the fields around Maree’s Stirk House gym in rural Gisburn, after a rather bizarre incident with a squirrel.
“We had got him a fight in Colne and just before we were due to go I couldn’t find him,” Maree recalled.
“I went out of the hotel and phoned him on his mobile. He said, ‘I’m lost’.
“I said, ‘How can you be lost?’. He’d gone for a walk.
“I said, ‘Look around you, when you see the hotel head towards it and I’ll see you’.
“I saw him coming over the fields and as he got closer I could see he was covered head to toe in muck. I said, ‘How did you do that? What on earth have you been doing?’ “He said, ‘I saw the squirrel, so I chased the squirrel.
“The squirrel went up the tree so I climbed the tree, and the tree broke’.
“He’d fallen out of the tree and landed on his knee. This is maybe two hours before his fight. Why did he chase the squirrel? Because these are the barmpots I have to deal with!”
El Maachi went ahead with the fight and continued to progress despite the injury.
“He went and boxed, but it was never right and then it got worse and worse,” Maree said.
“Even in Prizefighter you didn’t see the 100 per cent Yassine El Maachi. He could have ruined his career chasing a squirrel up a tree.
“We couldn’t get to the bottom of the injury but we got him to a specialist who found it was an infection – some sort of bacterial thing in his knee.
“He’s doing really well now, he came to us recently and stayed for a week. I wanted to assess his knee.
“He’s signed a three-year contract with me as manager as well now. In those three years with Yassine it’s nothing less than a world title as long as his knee’s fine.”
In Prizefighter, El Maachi defeated former world champion Junior Witter in the final and impressed many.
Although based in London, he had been unable to fight for the British title because he did not have a British passport.
But that problem has now been rectified and Maree thinks even world honours are not out of El Maachi’s reach.
“He’s got his passport now so he can fight for the British title, which means there will be a lot of people panicking,” he said.
“It’s going to be very exciting and finally I’ll be able to get him in the position he deserves to be in.”
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