Novice boxer takes to ring in memory of late stepmum

Boxer Craig Culbertson gets ready for the event. Picture by Andrew O'Brien
Boxer Craig Culbertson gets ready for the event. Picture by Andrew O'Brien
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It’s the ultimate challenge for a gentle giant.

Craig Culbertson, from Portobello, will enter the boxing ring next month for the first time in his life to slog it out for three sweat-soaked rounds – all in the name of charity.

The 24-year-old – who admits nerves are beginning to get the better of him – is raising money for the British Heart Foundation (BHF) following the tragic death of his stepmum, Tracey Culbertson, from an undiagnosed coronary condition in 2008.

And with only eight weeks of intensive training under his belt, he admits he’s going to have quite a fight on his hands to hold his own once the swings start landing.

Craig will step into the ring at Portobello Town Hall on Saturday, August 8, having already raised more than £600 – smashing his original target of £500.

He said: “I’m fighting somebody who’s not a novice – it’s somebody who’s had a good few fights. I can only imagine what it’s going to be like on the night. I’ve never really done anything in front of so many people.”

And the self-employed plumbing and heating engineer – who admitted he was “most nervous about getting knocked out” – revealed the hardest part of the experience so far had been learning to take a punch.

He said: “It’s such a weird experience for me. You need to learn to take punches and it’s all about posture and keeping your feet straight so you’re sturdy.

“When I first started out I was blinking and shutting my eyes when people were punching me. It’s way out my comfort zone. I just wanted to challenge myself doing something. It’s about giving something back and raising awareness.

“I want to go and do my best, but for me I will be winning by raising the money. No matter what happens on the night, I will come out of it and be proud of myself for raising money and raising awareness.”

Bradley Welsh, who runs the Amateur Boxing Association Scotland and has been training Craig, insisted the event would take place in a “safe environment – far removed from real-life fights”.

He said: “He’s going to be fine – it’s all done to regulated health standards. By the time he goes into the ring his friends and family are going to see a changed young gentleman.”

Craig’s stepmum Tracey died in her sleep after she suffered a massive heart attack at the age of just 36 following years of living with an undiagnosed condition called coronary atherosclerosis.

Gizem Fowler, BHF Scotland’s fundraising manager in Edinburgh, said: “My heartfelt thanks and admiration go to Craig for, quite literally, joining our fight for every heartbeat.”