Boxing a slow-burning glove affair – Josh Taylor

Josh Taylor, left, squares up to Adam Mate at the weigh-in for tonight's fight at Meadowbank. Pic: Ian Georgeson

Josh Taylor, left, squares up to Adam Mate at the weigh-in for tonight's fight at Meadowbank. Pic: Ian Georgeson

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You could say Josh Taylor was destined to carve out a career as a professional sportsman.

From his younger days as an aspiring footballer with Musselburgh Windsor to being crowned British taekwondo champion, Taylor was never too far away from success as a kid.

He even indulged in a bit of motocross racing from time to time. But boxing, at this stage, was not on his radar.

Having been a taekwondo enthusiast from the age of five, a possible career in martial arts beckoned for the Prestonpans teenager. However, at 15, other distractions gradually began to assert themselves.

Speaking ahead of tonight’s fight with Hungarian Adam Mate at Meadowbank – only his second professional bout and his first paid-ranks appearance in Edinburgh – Taylor recalled his sporty youth and how he got into boxing. “I was just like any young boy, my head was full of nonsense,” Taylor, now 24, said. “I’ve always been really into my sport though. I was going out with the lads all the time, playing football and then started to chase the lassies! I got into a couple of wee fights along the way, nothing too serious though, and just what most teenagers go through.

“I was tiny at school so I got picked on and people would try and shove me about – I had wee man syndrome!

“But my uncle is a master of taekwondo so I started doing that as a kid with him right through until I was 15. I was even British champion as a youth and had my black belt so that always kept me fit. But then I just got bored of it all and decided to pack it in.”

Looking for an alternative, Taylor and his friends decided to try Meadowbank Boxing Club.

“I decided to go to Meadowbank when I was 16 just to keep my fitness up,” said Taylor, the Glasgow 2014 light welterweight gold medallist. “But I never took boxing seriously for the first couple of years. I then moved up to Gilmerton Boxing Club for a while before going to Lochend. I loved it straight away and after the first couple of sessions I was hooked but I still only looked at it for fitness reasons. People were starting to notice me a bit though and were asking if I’d boxed before.

“But I was going to try and get in doing mechanics or something along those lines. I tried a year at college doing that but didn’t like it so started doing sports nutrition and management. PE was my best grade at school, I got a good credit mark for that and the rest of my marks were just general so I suppose I always thought I’d end up doing something sporty.

“But I still had too much nonsense in my head so I stopped the sports nutrition stuff and ended up getting a job as a lifeguard. I was then given the chance to go to the Commonwealth Youth Games and that’s when I realised I could go a long way in the sport.”

Given he had become tired of a sport he had been practising for ten years, Taylor appreciates the impact taekwondo has had in getting him to where he is today.

“That definitely gave me the platform,” he said. “I had learned about all the footwork and reactions you need so I just needed to develop that bit more. I had the basics. When I first started boxing eight years ago, though, I never envisaged I would achieve what I have done so far.”

As he prepares to take on Hungarian lightweight champion Mate in front of a partisan Capital crowd, Taylor accepts he wouldn’t be in such a fortunate position had it not been for the support of his loved ones.

“I’ve sacrificed a lot in my life to get where I am and dedicate everything to boxing,” he said. “I miss out on holidays, parties, going out on the town, but that’s the choices you have to make. But I couldn’t have done all this without the support of my family, my mum Diane and dad James, my sister Finch and girlfriend Danielle and all my coaches as they keep me grounded.

“I want to be world champion one day, after all.”