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Lifelong smoker aged 40 gives up and enters boxing ring for first fight

Posted on the 4th September 2017

A lifelong smoker from Penwortham in Preston has given up smoking with help from the Quit Squad and is now scheduled to fight his first ‘white-collar’ boxing match to raise money for a Cancer Research UK at Preston’s Guild Hall on 9 September.

Former Penwortham Priory High School pupil, Philip Herbert, had been smoking for 25 years since the age of 15. With support from the Quit Squad, a service delivered by Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust and funded by Lancashire County Council, it took Phil, who works as a catering manager, just four weeks to give up smoking.

Philip said: “I had been smoking for 25 years since my days at high school. I had previously tried to stop and thought I’d give up when I turned 40. You just can’t go all your life with smoking. I used to previously smoke cannabis and stopped; then thought I should give this up as well.

“I used to smoke 20 to 25 roll-ups a day. It was when I gave up smoking weed that I felt I needed to do something useful with my time and so I started doing white-collar boxing. I always had this thing of giving up smoking for good and so when I started boxing I felt I needed to get fitter.”

Philip, who recently turned 40, lost his mother to cancer just last year. Having trained hard for eight weeks at Larches and Savick ABC Boxing Academy, he is entering the ring next month for the first time as a white-collar boxer to raise £500 for charity Cancer Research UK.

Philip said: “White-collar boxing is about raising money for Cancer Research. I was very close to my mum who died of cancer last year and it is because of this that I really feel passionate about cancer. The place where I train is a normal boxing gym which helps train white-collar boxers. They call it white-collar because it started off in US with two guys, a solicitor and a banker, who worked white-collar jobs and had a bout.

“Giving up smoking has been the best thing I have done. I feel miles better now that I’ve given up. I’ve also been losing weight as well. The first two to three weeks after smoking were hard, but the last few weeks have been great. My recovery time when I box and go sprinting is now better since I gave up. I’m able to quickly catch my breath now.

“I feel my sense of smell and taste has come back. I’m also saving a lot of money, but spending it all on training. The boxing has been a great diversion and has helped me take my mind off everything. I’ve watched boxing all my life and the push that the Quit Squad has given me has been really helpful. I do definitely recommend people to give up smoking. I did previously try giving up about 10 years ago. But I didn’t have the support around me and it lasted just a few weeks. The Quit Squad provided me with the right level of support and help.”

Philip will be fighting three, two minute rounds in front of a paying crowd of 1,000 people at Preston’s Guild Hall on 9 September.

The Quit Squad is a service delivered by Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust and funded by Lancashire County Council. You can access the service in your local community by visiting a drop-in clinic (for which no appointments are required) or by attending a one-to-one session. The Quit Squad also offers sessions in the community and workplace. For further details, telephone 0800 3286297, visit, or follow the Quit Squad on Twitter @LancashireCare #QuitSquad.