Cook’s autobiography takes read on journey through action-packed life
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Boxing correspondent Ken Sellek reviews ‘Guardian of the Streets, the autobiography of former European super middleweight champion James Cook
Hackney-based James Cook’s autobiography, titled ‘Guardian of the Streets’, is a gripping account of his life told with the assistance of friend and boxing author Melanie Lloyd.
Born in Jamaica and raised by his grandparents until he was nine when his mother arrived from London to collect him, Cook paints a vibrant picture of his childhood in the Caribbean and having to adapt to life on the notorious North Peckham Estate in the late 1960s.
Cook started boxing and reached two London senior amateur finals, before moving to Hackney aged 17.
Today, Cook still lives in Hackney with his wife Carmen, his childhood girlfriend from Jamaica, and their four daughters.
The now 59-year-old turned professional in 1982 and against all the odds, he became both British and European champion at super middleweight.
When he retired from the ring in 1994, Cook turned his hand to training and also became a youth worker.
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Due to a lack of funds, Hackney Council shut down the Pedro Youth Club, a short distance from Cook’s home in Lower Clapton, in 2003 despite it being at the heart of the community.
As the Council arrived to close the building, Cook entered the premises and took the official documents, before making a few calls to set up a management company.
The club is now back at the heart of the community today and Cook takes the reader through his life with plenty of tales along the way.
The book is not just for boxing fans as Cook also details receiving his MBE from the Queen in 2007 for his work with youths in Hackney.
This book is available in hardback and is priced at £18.99, with 80 per cent of the royalties that Cook and Lloyd receive being donated to the Pedro Youth Club.