STEPHEN SIMMONS took up boxing to keep himself out of trouble. As he retires from the sport he has dedicated most of his life to, he admits that he achieved more than he ever thought possible.

Simmons, who is the current IBF European cruiserweight champion, announced his retirement from boxing this week and the 33-year-old admitted that it has been quite a journey. “When I was a little boy, I was thrown out of primary school five times for fighting,” the Edinburgh man said.

“I was fighting outside of school too and had the police at my door and everything before I was even 12-years-old. I really needed some discipline and so my uncle Kenny took me under his wing and said that he was going to take me to a good boxing gym. He took me to Leith Victoria and I was there for 14 years - I trained there throughout my entire amateur career.

“The whole point of me getting into boxing was to get some discipline and to get some direction and to keep me on the right path so to have achieved what I did surpassed everything I could ever have imagined.”

“It’s about how you deal with things and how you carry yourself and boxing helped me with that in a huge way.”

Simmons’ last outing was a defeat to Matty Askin for the British title. But even before he took to the ring for that bout, he knew that he was on the verge of hanging up his gloves.

As with so many elite athletes, Simmons’ body was starting to break down as a result of the considerable battering he has given it over the years and with his son Ethan being born last year, his attitude towards the sport changed somewhat.

“Last year I had an inclination that I was going to retire but I thought then that I’d give it another two years,” he said.

“But I’ve got a hip injury and after speaking to a hip specialist in November last year, I started to think differently about retirement. The specialist was saying that I could get away with not having an operation and so although I was in pain, that would reduce the risk of getting arthritis later in life.

“My last fight was well worth taking but after speaking to the hip specialist and then going through the camp leading up to that fight and missing out on so much time with Ethan, it really made me think that I just wasn’t going to do it again. I want to watch my little boy growing up - him being born made a massive difference to my mindset. Going on ten or twelve week training camps when he’s about is hard because I miss out on so much time with him.”

Simmons made a real mark in both the amateur and professional ranks. He won bronze in the Commonwealth Games in 2010 before turning pro, during which time he accumulated an 18-3 win-loss record. And he admits that his career produced almost more high points than he can name.

“My highlights would be representing my country in the amateurs and boxing for Scotland at two Commonwealth Games,” he said.

“Watching the Opening ceremony of this year’s Commonwealth Games earlier this week brought back so many memories for me because those Commonwealth Games were real stand-out moments for me. And winning titles in the pro game were real highlights for me too.”

Simmons will not be lost to boxing though. He is due to take over the reigns at his club, Leith Victoria, and he admits that he cannot wait to put his stamp on the club. “Leith Victoria is being handed over to me run it,” he revealed.

“I feel like I’ve got a lot of knowledge and experience having been on the Scotland and Great Britain team and working with the best coaches so I feel like I’ve got a lot to share. I believe that the gym can produce a lot more champions than it has been of late so if I can use my experience and knowledge then hopefully more champions will come out of Leith Victoria.

“I’ve always said if I can help inspire one young person then I’ve done a good job. Boxing took me out of trouble and kept me on the right path and so I’d never want to walk away from the sport. So it’s definitely exciting to see what happens in the future.”