THERE is very little typical or orthodox about Muleta Muleta and he tells Ashley Ball why he is more than happy to apply that to all parts of his life.

Muleta’s story in Barnsley began in 2009 when he moved to the town from his homeland of Zambia.

It was a move encouraged by his Barnsley-based grandma Agnes who had moved in 2003.

She had picked up on the vibe that his life in South-Central Africa had been veering off course.

She made the decision to move him to Barnsley and adopt him as her own son.

In Text Promo Image

“It wasn’t going well in school for me and she knew me so well,” he said.

So the young teen swapped the muggy heat for the totally different surroundings of Barnsley and became a pupil at Kingstone School.

The extremely likeable 24-year-old, who lives on Sheffield Road, Barnsley, initially found it easier to fit in in Sheffield where he could indulge in his first love of breakdancing.

He embarked on a new love affair in 2014 when he was encouraged by a friend to have a go at Doncaster Road-based Barnsley Star Amateur Boxing Club.

It was a totally new experience for Muleta who had played football and ran before.

In his own unique way he thrust himself into learning the sweet science.

Seasoned coaches who have seen Muleta box would regularly describe his style as ‘a nightmare’. His coach Trevor Schofield concurs in more reasons than one.

But it’s this unorthodox approach, drawing on his own self-confidence and dancing ability which is actually seeing him emerge as a decent amateur prospect.

“I had bad habits from trying to teach myself,” laughed Muleta.

“I used to watch Muhammad Ali and Prince Naseem Hamed videos. I tried to teach myself to box.

“I was never really interested in boxing but a friend said I should try it.

“The coaches said I was really quick and that I had good movement from my dancing. Footwork is obviously important in boxing.

“I fell in love with it. I had always been a confident guy because of my dancing. But the dancing took me to Sheffield. When I was boxing I was more settled in Barnsley.”

His career in the ring did not start off meteorically and out of his first eight bouts, he won only once.

Then he suffered his first knockout loss. How then, a year later, did he become Yorkshire champion? The wake-up call seems to have rang loudly.

“In the first few fights, I didn’t take it seriously. I didn’t realise that it would be totally different fighting to sparring.

“I got knocked out. That plays on your mind a lot and my record did not look good either.

“I knew I had to change up my training and get a lot fitter and listen to what Trevor and the other coaches were telling me.”

He took a late-notice call in November to box Ben Thompson for the regional crown in Bradford.

Coach Danny Whatley had to corner him with Trevor unavailable. The latter quickly reassured the inexperienced coach not to worry about having to give out detailed instructions because ‘Muleta doesn’t listen to them anyway’.

Nor did he have to as on this occasion he pulled off victory and made it six wins from seven in what has been a noticeable turnaround.

Now the Amazon worker is looking into the possibility of going professional.

Muleta said: “Trevor had explained to me how I could box better and a year on from getting knocked out, I was Yorkshire champion.

“In the next year or two I would like to go professional. I am focusing on boxing. It’s not easy at the minute with everything that’s going on but I am still keeping fit.

“I know that I can win over crowds. I’m definitely random and unpredictable. I don’t know what I’m going to do next myself so the opponent can’t. I use that to my advantage.”

Coach Trevor said Muleta is a huge part of his gym.

He said: “He’s a brilliant lad and I like taking him to box.

“He’s a great character to have in the gym and I’ve spent hours with him. It’s his big smile that stands out and he’s a very pleasant lad.”