THE challenge of becoming a professional boxer would be seen as a tough task for anyone.

But the journey has been even more difficult for an Oswestry man, who is set to compete in his first professional bout in 2021.

Cristoffer Dean, known as Crimmy ‘Bombproof’ Dean, has endured a year of highs and lows, but is determined to enjoy a breakthrough year in 2021 with his professional debut scheduled for February.

After dealing with mental health issues including depression, and suffering injuries in a car crash in the summer, Crimmy’s love for boxing was highlighted more than ever as it helped him through some dark moments.

The 25-year-old, of Rednal, is now hoping to use the sport as a way to help others too after setting up his own gym.

He said: “This last 12 months has been crazy, with ups and downs, highs and lows. But I’m sat here now after signing a pro contract and my partner and I are expecting a baby.

“Boxing was the only thing that kept me on the straight and narrow. It’s a massive, massive help.

“Without the boxing and my partner, I don’t think I’d be here today. I look back now and I think the last place I want to be is back there.

“I’m doing everything in my will to fight against it now and make something of myself, and that makes me hungrier to do well.”

After a successful spell as an amateur boxer, Crimmy had the opportunity to train alongside some of the sport’s greats.

Travelling to Ricky Hatton’s Manchester-based gym, Crimmy trained with Hitman himself, as well as British world champions Billy Joe Saunders and Tyson Fury.

And having similarly experienced mental health issues, Crimmy took inspiration from Fury, who has spoken very publicly about dealing with depression among other problems.

“Seeing people like Tyson Fury talk so openly about it is definitely inspiring,” he said.

“Before all this, I was struggling everyday but I never really knew why at the time. I thought it was just me being me.

“But seeing him find a way through it made me think I could do the same too. I’m not 100 per cent now, but I know I’m a million times better.”

After his success at an amateur level, the Rednal-based fighter has signed his first professional deal with former British, Commonwealth and European champion Scott Lawton, with the help of his Wrexham-based coach, Peter Buckley.

He is now preparing for his first bout which is set to take place next month, and with his past experiences fresh in his mind, Crimmy says he is more determined than ever.

“I’m currently on track to make my professional debut in February and continue my successful boxing career and really put Oswestry on the map in a big fashion,” he explained.

“With boxing growing by the day I’m aiming to get up in the mix and really unsettle the super welterweight division.

“I’m not setting my sights on anything other than going to the top – there’s no limit on how far I can go in my head.

“I have proven it to myself so many times now and have beaten opponents who have won gold in their careers. I personally don’t think I can be beaten.

“As soon as the chance comes I want to grab it and run with it.”

Along with mental health issues, 2020 saw Crimmy taken to hospital by air ambulance for the second time in his life.

The boxer was involved in a bad car crash, which resulted in broken bones in his hand, broken ribs and facial injuries.

And the incident was to shape his future ringname, with the help of his partner.

He said: “Bombproof is a name I picked up because of things that have happened over the years.

“I did Motocross from a young age and was taken to hospital by air ambulance, and I was taken to hospital by air ambulance after a car crash a few months ago.

“All these things have happened, but nothing has ever knocked me out, and I think it was my partner who said to me ‘you’re bombproof’ – and it just stuck from there.

“If I can’t get knocked out by what has happened to me in the past, then I’m not going to get knocked out in the ring.”

As he prepares for his biggest fight to date, Crimmy is splitting his focus between training, and helping clients at his new boxing gym.

After he and his partner converted a barn into a gym at their home in Rednal, Crimmy now has 37 clients who take part in one-to-one training sessions.

He hopes he can use boxing to help them, after the sport proved to be such a help to him.

“I opened up for one-to-one sessions at the gym,” he said. “I mainly decided to do it because I have experienced mental health issues myself to get to where I am now.

“At the time I was at my lowest point, I had the car crash.

“When I was in hospital, I realised how much boxing had helped me and because of that, I thought it would be a good opportunity to help other people when I’m not training myself.

“It’s been great so far – I have 37 different clients now and it has been flat out every day. Training people is now a full-time job for me which is a big bonus.

“I think around half of the people coming here, aren’t coming here just to box.

“A lot will say it helps get them into a good headspace and it helps to improve their week a little bit.

“It helps people to focus, and it helps me because I enjoy seeing the outcomes of training in clients who come here.”

As he looks to set off on a professional career, Crimmy has thanked those who have helped him through some tough times to where he is today.

He said: “I have big sponsors in M Battams Butchers and Smart Cut hairdressers which I am extremely grateful for.

“I’m thankful to my coach Peter Buckley and my manager Scott Lawton too – without them I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing.

“My mum has also helped me massively – she always used to say she’d never come to a fight and hates the thought of it, but she thinks it’s the best thing ever now.

“I think she realises what it’s done for me.”