What has the mayor of Hammersmith & Fulham and IBF world middleweight champion Darren Barker got in common?
Answer: Wayne Léal.
Both regularly appear at the Fulham man’s Dawes Road studio, and in Barker’s case it led to a world crown that for the first time involved no running and no weight training.
Instead, yoga, a mini trampoline and swimming supplanted the traditional flog of skipping, roadwork and pumping iron that took Barker to a sensational points victory over Daniel Geale in Atlantic City last month.
Wayne’s world also has room for Councillor Frances Stainton, who along with other clients gets the same intensive treatment as the world champ.
“Of course, the mayor has a programme that’s suitable for her and Darren’s is right for him,” said Léal.
“It’s all a question of adaptation.”
Needless to say, since Barker got the split decision over Aussie Geale, Léal has been ‘deluged’ by requests for training, but plans to stick with his loyal clientele.
“They were with me when I started out and had nothing,” he explained, “but I do have group classes call Fulham Yoga that for £10 includes all members of the community.
“I was born and bred here and I want to put something back.”
Barker had to withstand a barrage of banter from traditional fight fans goading him with questions like, ‘Are you going to fight in sandals?’ and ‘Fancy a few more mung beans for breakfast, Darren?’
They were all served a helping of humble pie when Barker came through to win the crown after getting off the canvas in a heart-stopping sixth round.
Léal admitted a fair bit of hypnotherapy came with the unorthodox regime.
But there was also a canny awareness of what Barker could and could not do.
“He’s had a fair bit of hip trouble in the past,” said the trainer, “so it made sense to supplant running that takes its toll with the trampoline and swimming.
“I said to Darren, the world fight is like a book. I’m going to publish whatever you write, whether that be 12 chapters or one chapter long – but you’re going to write it.
“When clients come to me it’s the equivalent of the couch: it’s therapy. They go away relaxed and feeling much better about themselves after.”
n Visit www.wayneleal.co.uk or www.fulhamyoga.com for more information on Léal’s training.