A GWENT-based author and former criminal barrister has turned his attentions to a new project – boxing.

Matthew Hall, 46, from Monmouthshire, has always hankered to get into the boxing ring after getting his first taste at university 25 years ago.

Mr Hall was in the Oxford University boxing club for a year.

But, with less than perfect eyesight and in the days before soft contact lenses, getting past the medical required for official bouts was impossible and he was forced to follow other ambitions.

Now, writing his seventh novel, which features a former special serviceman in his late 40s, he has decided to get as close to real life combat as he can.

Mr Hall was inspired to climb back into the ring by Monmouth MP David Davies, who is also known as ‘The Tory Tornado’.

He has signed up along with 30 others for an intensive 10-week programme which started last month.

This will eventually culminate in a full-blown three-round bout in front of a 2,500-strong live audience in April.

The dad of two said: “I had given up any ambition of boxing although I have always loved the sport – I’ve even recently written a film script about boxing.

“I was doing a talk and David Davies came along and I remembered reading about his boxing and we got talking and he told me about ’white collar boxing’ and how it was becoming a really big thing.

“That got me thinking about it.”

Mr Hall has decided to take part in the name of charity and is fundraising for Abergavenny’s Nevill Hall Hospital’s children’s ward, after they looked after his son last year.

Speaking about his son, he said: “He was in there for just over a week and the staff there were fantastic. But I noticed it was a bit threadbare, and thought it would be good to raise some money for them.”

After some research, he came across a Bristol-based boxing company who run the 10-week course.

“Doing it is fulfilling a long held ambition to see if I can do it and raise some money for charity at the same time.

“When I signed up, I thought the final bouts would be in front of about 100 people. It turns out it’s more like 2,000 people, so that’s pretty daunting.”

Mr Hall is keeping a diary throughout the training process, talking to the other participants to discover their motivation and questioning his own reasons for taking on the challenge.

To donate to the cause, visit Mr Hall’s JustGiving page at: www.justgiving.com/Matthew-Hall16

To buy tickets, visit: www.zerotoheroboxing.com