Billy Joe Saunders

Here Come the Gypsies: Who is Billy Joe Saunders?

Find out more about the star of the Channel 5 series here

Eve Crosbie

Channel 5 series Here Come the Gypsies! continues on Wednesday night and will once again offer viewers a glimpse into the traditions and daily life of traveller communities around the UK.

MORE: Here Come the Gypsies: Who is Tony Giles?

The series chronicles the lives of several families across the country, including professional boxer Billy Joe Saunders. Want to know more about him? We did some investigating and here's all the info you need...

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Billy Joe Saunders is from a Romanichal travelling community

Billy, 30, grew up in a Romanichal travelling community near Hatfield, Hertfordshire. Like all the men in his family, he began boxing at an early age. He along with his older brother Tom Jr, first took up a pair of gloves aged seven after experiencing bullying at school because of their heritage.

His brother is now a professional cruiserweight, while his father Tom Sr only ever boxed at an amateur level. His great-grandfather, Absolom Beeney, was one of the community's most famous bare-knuckle boxers. According to The Guardian, as a young man Beeney was a champion in the travelling fairground boxing booths.

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Billy took part in the 2008 Olympics

In 2008, at the age of 18, Billy became the first person from a British Romanichal community to take part in the Olympic Games, reaching the second round of the welterweight bracket in Beijing. In the same year, he won gold at the EU Championships. More recently, Billy announced he would be taking on Canelo Álvarez in the ring in a match set for May.

He is good friends with boxing legend Tyson Fury, who also comes from Traveller heritage. "Tyson is a good mate of mine, we have been friends for years," Billy told Boxing News Online back in 2017, adding that they often train together. 

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Billy and 'Gyspy King' Tyson Fury often train together

Away from his boxing career, Billy is a father-of-three. He became a father for the first time aged 18, the same year he competed in the Olympics. Two years later, he and his then-girlfriend Ruby welcomed a second son. Now 12 and 10 respectively, Billy Joe Jr and Steve often show up to their dad's matches and no doubt keen boxers themselves.

In 2017, the boxer welcomed a baby girl. Sharing the news on Twitter, he wrote: "My Littil princess. Vienna my life X [sic]". Billy is currently believed to be single.

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