PZ: Tell me all about receiving your award from the WBC.
JO: It was a complete shock in honesty Paul. A total surprise.
I was attending a charity evening where a large number of people were helping to raise money for good causes, with the likes of top champions and boxers such as Darren Barker, Anthony Joshua, Glen Catley, Colin McMillan and John Ryder – some of whom I’d trained. My mate John Murphy had organised the evening, as he often does, raising loads for some great charities and individuals.
When they introduced Anthony Joshua into the ring, to present an award, I thought it was for one of the people assisting with the charity, but it was for me. You could have blown me over with a feather.
To get that recognition, especially from Anthony who I know very well and respect and from the other boxers and the WBC was incredible. A very special day for me to cherish – one I’ll never forget. I’m not sure how much I deserve it though as there’s thousands of people up and down the country doing what I do, or have done, but I’m very grateful.
PZ: What’s your level of interest and involvement currently in boxing?
JO: I still follow all the British boxing, and can’t wait for Anthony Joshua to become world champion.
I’m heavily involved with pretty much all the ex-boxers associations in and around the country. There’s some retired boxers who have fallen on hard times and these associations look at addressing that. It’s a pleasure to be involved with them.
PZ: Do you think boxing should be reintroduced back into school?
JO: Without a shadow of a doubt. In the 1970’s I was employed by the local council as a youth leader and boxing was the medium I used to get through to many people. The discipline that boxing gives is not just in the ring, it positively affects your way of thinking as a person.
I also worked with schools, the police and basically anybody who could benefit from the discipline of boxing and stay off the streets. The kind of kids that teachers had given up on, or who had been expelled, would often come to me. Many would react positively to my teachings within days. Some within hours. I could relate to their background, which meant I knew how much to tolerate, when to teach hard and when to listen to them.
Not everyone I crossed paths with became a success, but at least I can sleep at night knowing there’s people out there who didn’t end up addicted to substances, behind bard or dead, as a result of taking up boxing.
The best part is to see some of the lads becoming champions a number of years after starting to work with them. That’s almost difficult to put into words. Very special.
PZ: Random one here john – Manny versus Floyd. How do you see it going?
JO: I’ve known Floyd since 1992, so am going to be biased. Knowing Floyd apart, I genuinely believe that Manny is made for Floyd. I think he will box his head off.
Irrespective of whether it should have happened 5 years ago, it will still be the biggest fight in history.
PZ: With all the years of boxing wisdom under your belt, could you send out a message to the youth of today and future generations as to why they should take up boxing.
JO: It’s not just about taking people off the straight, it’s a discipline which gives you confidence, direction and improves your mental and physical health. It gives you a genuine value in life.
If I didn’t have boxing when I was a kid, things could have turned out very differently. I genuinely believe that boxing saved my life. I would have been banged up, dead, or could have caused harm to others myself. Boxing taught me the difference between right and wrong. You don’t need to fight in the ring. Even if you just attend the sessions, the discipline will guide you.