How Josh Taylor plans to inspire Scotland at Euro 2020 by firing up the players ahead of England game at Wembley
Josh Taylor’s unification of the world’s light-welterweight boxing belts has put Scotland on the global sporting map and he’s hoping more Scots, young and old, can take heart from his success – including the national football team ahead of the European Championships next week.
Taylor’s phone has been abuzz with messages during his post-fight isolation period with congratulations from fans and well-wishers, and many hailing his achievement as their own inspiration.
It’s an unexpected by-product of his victory over Jose Ramirez that has been a pleasant surprise for the Prestonpans fighter – and one he’s ready to share, starting with Steve Clarke’s side.
Scotland kick off their Euro 2020 campaign on Monday against the Czech Republic at Hampden, and the Tartan Tornado would like nothing more than to cheer the side on at the national stadium and Wembley - and return the motivational messages a few of the Scots squad sent to him before his Las Vegas bout.
“A couple of the Scotland lads were in touch before the fight, since then I’ve not really heard much – maybe they have and I’ve still not looked at it yet. I’ve still got loads of messages to get through on my phone.
“Hopefully I can get into the changing room before the game and give them a bit of inspiration. That would be cool. Especially before the England game, that would amazing to go in and fire them up.
“I think – and I hope – they can take inspiration from what I’ve done because you do take inspiration from other sports and sports people. In terms of motivation, you look to other athletes.
“Although the sports and the disciplines are different, you take motivation from results, the build-up, the determination someone shows. There are similarities that you can look at. All motivation is good.
“It would be cool to go to Hampden for the first Euros game - it would be amazing to go there with the belts.
“I’m hoping to be sorted for Wembley already but it would be cool to walk out and parade the titles at Hampden.”
A homecoming fight has long been on Taylor’s wishlist at Edinburgh Castle or Easter Road – and he wouldn’t rule out the national stadium as a venue either. “It’s a pretty big place so I don’t know about fighting there. You never know, it would be special.”
Nothing, as Taylor has proven, is impossible.
Re-united with his belts after they were lost in transit on the victorious journey back from Las Vegas, he had the complete set on public display on Monday in Glasgow. Their delay, plus his mandatory post-fight quarantine, meant he has not been in touch with his local fans in Prestonpans as much as he’d hoped, but plenty have been on social media praising his achievement and the lift he has given Scots of all generations after the defeat of Jose Ramirez.
He hopes they too can take inspiration from him achieving his dreams.
“When I was a kid, it was other boxers like Alex Arthur and Ricky Hatton who inspired me. Alex was an inspiration because he was right there on my doorstep in Edinburgh.
“You take inspiration from your heroes. Now that I’m at the top of the tree, I can hopefully be a hero to some young man or woman, some young person.
"I’ve hopefully shown that you can dream of being the best in the world.
"It takes hard work and self-belief, determination. Believing in your dream is what it takes.
“If you believe in yourself and work hard for it, that’s what it takes.
“I have already had a few messages from people that I’ve had such an impact on their life as a sort of role model and they want to be like myself.
“I got a message from a woman the other day about her daughter, who is heavily autistic. She’s trying to socialise her more and is doing picture association.
“She gets really excited when watching me on the telly, apparently; she always gets reactions from her, which helps the social side of things.
“So I’ve to send her a signed picture.
“It’s things like that. You don’t realise you have an effect on people’s lives.
“That’s one side of this that’s been really cool for me, knowing I’ve had a nice impact, a positive impact on people.”
Taylor has been making up for lost time though and catching up with fans after being restricted to a wave from his car at his triumphant homecoming to Prestonpans.
“That was a bit frustrating but since I’ve been out and about I’ve still been playing catch-up everywhere I’m going, I’m seeing them. It’s a bit mad.
“It’ll be a change for me because I like being under the radar. I like sort of going about my business quietly but confidently. I like that - I like getting results in the ring and letting the results speak for themselves.
“Now it’ll be a bit different, but I’m looking forward to seeing what changes there will be.
“We’re looking to get out again maybe in November time but I’ll need to see how the hands heal up.
“I’m going to get a proper scan next week to see if there is any actual damage. I had an X-ray when I came back - there’s no broken bones so it might just be ligaments or muscles, but they need to heal for a couple of weeks before I start punching again.”
Josh Taylor was speaking at German Doner Kebab’s restaurant in Glasgow.