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Byline: TYLER MEARS Reporter

T'S the 21st-century equivalent of the autograph book to die for.

ISelfie fan Ricky Wright, from the Rhondda, has collected a vast number of pictures with celebrities, from Peter Crouch to Olly Murs.

The 29-year-old has been building a career as a ring announcer at boxing fights - and says it has made celebrities easy prey.

He said: "A lot of famous people attend fight nights and, as the ring announcer, I get access all areas, so I've met some cool people while doing my job.

"My favourite person was probably Bruce Buffer, who is the Octagon announcer for the UFC.

"I remember once in Germany I ended up on stage with him, Dana White, who is the UFC president and Joe Rogan the UFC commentator.

"I was at a Q&A session and I asked for any advice on becoming a better MC and got invited up on stage with them all. It was a surreal moment being on stage with my hero, and we've been in touch ever since."

Ricky, who also works as a carer, has snaps with a number of other celebrities, including glamour model Katie Price and Slash from Guns N Roses.

He said: "When I met Katie Price she was going out with Alex Reid, who I have also worked alongside in the past. I asked her for a picture and she said 'as long as you're in it too', which I thought was weird because why would I want a picture of her on her own? "Slash was as cool as you like. He's one of the most famous guitarists in the world and I had his attention for 15 minutes. He even rang my friend's girlfriend up for a chat who's a huge fan.

"But he wouldn't have a picture because he wasn't in his stage gear so he signed me an autograph instead.

"I met English glamour model Linsey Dawn McKenzie when I was announcing a fun run in the Rhondda. Although I don't know what she was doing there, because she didn't have her running gear on.

"Peter Crouch was very, very tall. So tall, in fact, that I had to get up on my tiptoes for a picture with him - which is why my double chin is more visible in it, I think.

"Beth Ditto was very short, so I felt like a giant next to her. But she was really sweet."

The 29-year-old has been working as a ring announcer for more than six years.

He has hosted more than 180 shows, including Cage Warriors at the NEC in Birmingham, Valley of Kings at the Cardiff Motorpoint Arena and some which were featured live on Eurosport and broadcast to 109 countries world wide.

He said: "I actually started announcing after getting into martial arts in 2004. I remember I got into a fight and wanted to learn to defend myself.

"I started writing reports about the different events I was going to and would use the announcer's notes to help me with my write-ups. But rather than using them to help me write I would start reading the cards out loud and practise ring announcing around the house, much to the annoyance of my mother Joyce and my sister Sam.

"In 2009, Chris Rees, who was my Brazilian Jiu-jitsu coach at the time, needed an MC for an event he was organising and he asked me if I fancied it. I'm a much better talker than a fighter so I gladly obliged and I've been doing it ever since.

"Most ring announcers don't start until they're in their late 30s, so I have a good age advantage. By the time I'm in my late 30s I'll have more than 15 years of experience."

In 2013, Ricky was granted a Master of Ceremonies award by the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBoC), which allowed him to MC professional boxing bouts. He recently hosted a series of public workouts for world champions Lee Selby, Nathan Cleverly and Kell Brook, which was broadcast on Sky Sports News.

In the future Ricky plans to continue rubbing shoulders with the stars as he develops his announcing career.

He said: "In the future I'd love to work with a huge promotion and be their regular MC. One of my ambitions is to MC a world title fight. I'm a huge fan of world champion boxer Lee Selby, so it would be a dream come true to MC one of his fights live on TV."


Some of the famous faces with Ricky are: From top left clockwise, DJ Zane Lowe, comedian Russell Howard, Beth Ditto, Neil from Biffy Clyro, Welsh sports presenter Sarra Elgan, Rupert Grint, Katie Price and Ollie Murs

Ring announcer Ricky Wright, from the Rhondda, with Peter Crouch
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Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Aug 23, 2015
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