Coronavirus crisis: the boxing world reflects - part 1

Luke G. Williams
23/03/2020 1:20pm

Photo: Dave Thompson/Getty Images

How are members of the boxing community worldwide coping with the Coronavirus crisis? In the first of a new series, Boxing Monthly hears from Jazza Dickens, Michael Watson, Curtis Gargano, Michael Conlan, Callum Johnson, Gary Jacobs, Gary Cully and Jason Moloney...

"I think it's a great opportunity for fighters to find peace of mind and focus. Refined to the basics you can learn new things about yourself and grow, as well as implement a new temporary training regime. New challenge and change is good for a person and a lot of people need involuntary change imposed upon them because without this unfortunate situation a lot of people would never try anything new. I am fortunate enough not to be affected as I just had a fight and my next scheduled fight is a few months away. I feel sorry for those affected, with bills and families to maintain. All I can say to those fighters is stay strong, there will be equal opportunity in the flip side of this coin. I'd advise people to stop worrying. Until you're affected with Covid-19 you are perfectly fine, your stress will not benefit you or keep you safe, if anything it will impair your routine. Stay positive!" - Jazza Dickens, former British super-bantamweight champion

"Obviously I’m well into retirement, but I feel for the boxers who are getting fights cancelled and postponed. All I can ask is that they stay safe, only go out when necessary and be patient as their time will come. Also to the wider public, especially the older and the vulnerable, take extra precautions and try to stay in. To anyone with mental health issues being shut away can be extremely difficult so please make sure you stay in touch with your friends and family via mobile and Skype etc. Please don’t be lonely and seek help if you need it - stay safe everyone and help your neighbours if you can." - Michael Watson, MBE, former Commonwealth middleweight champion and world title challenger

"I knew this was coming a few weeks ago. I was just hoping each weekend we got to work a boxing show and when we did it was a blessing. It’s hit me very hard as this is what I do for a living. I have fighters ready for debuts, I have fighters ready to do medicals and fighters waiting for interviews with the British Boxing Board of Control and also fighters with fights lined up. The main thing is the lads will keep training. They will stay ready the best they can. As you know my fighters all box on the road so work will be there for them soon as it all starts again. I’m gutted for every one in the boxing game. You know we all make this sport work and we all work hard behind the scenes. I have a roof over my head, my family are safe and I can be with them full time, but this has hit me financially big time. But me and my family and fighters will be OK - I know it." - Curtis Gargano, trainer, manager, former pro fighter

"Well as you guys know I was due to box 17 March at Madison Square Garden with my annual St Patrick’s Day fight but due to Coronavirus it was cancelled or postponed which means I don’t get paid until it happens, whenever that may be. So I trained for a full 10 weeks without being paid and having to pay the cost of training and accommodation in Surrey which is quite expensive. Other than that it hasn’t really affected me. I’m spending more time with my family and getting to play and do things with my kids now I have a lot of time off. I’m back training away in my own gym in the garage after taking a week off, so I’m dealing with it OK for now. The kids are off school so I’ll be doing plenty of home schooling and activities around the house and outside which I don’t usually get to do as I’m away in camp a lot. I’ve also been baking plenty, hopefully I get good enough so I can go on Bake-Off next year!" - Michael Conlan, world ranked featherweight, former World Amateur champion and Olympic bronze medal winner

"It’s affected the whole world. Speaking for me and my family it’s affected our family business massively as we are totally closed and can’t open for the foreseeable. In terms of my boxing it’s frustrating because my fight as it stands hasn’t actually been called off but how do you prepare for a title fight with this epidemic going on? No gyms open, being advised not to leave your house unless it’s necessary. I’m very frustrated and confused about what to do and what not to do to be honest. But I’m not feeling sorry for myself because at the end of the day this is a world problem not just a problem I have or my family have. There’s people and families out there that are affected far more than me. I just wish everyone all the best of health and hope everyone sticks together and we all come through this horrible time and continue with normal life as soon as we can." - Callum Johnson, former British and Commonwealth light-heavyweight champion and world title challenger

"A virus has put the world on its knees. I am ok, my family are ok. Everybody has just had to conform to the rules that have been laid out. If we follow them I think this will disappear as quickly as it came." - Gary Jacobs, former British, Commonwealth and European champion and world title challenger

"Yeah it’s affected the whole world I think, everybody’s life has changed in the past 1 or 2 weeks. For me it's put my career to a bit of a standstill for a while. No shows, means no fights, means no money, so it’s tough as I box full time and it’s my only way of income. Hopefully it’s not around for too long. I’m staying focused and still keeping structure to training. It’s an opportunity for me to take some time to improve as a fighter, work on different things, get fitter and get stronger, so I'm using the time to improve as a fighter - that's how I’m dealing with it ." - Gary Cully, Irish lightweight champion

"The Coronavirus is having a massive impact on us all. Today I was supposed to be getting on a flight to Las Vegas to achieve a dream of mine and fight in front of a sold out crowd at the Mandalay Bay. Instead I’ve just put in an application to stack shelves at the local supermarket. I’m obviously very disappointed that my fight against Joshua Greer had to be postponed. I was so excited for this huge opportunity and I was ready to make a big statement. The fight is postponed, it is not canceled, so I’m staying positive and I’m staying ready. I will still continue to train hard everyday and I’m not letting all of my hard work go to waste but, of course, the uncertainty of when we will be able to fight is very stressful. My wife is on maternity leave with my one-year-old daughter and we rely on me fighting to pay the bills and put food on the table. Picking up a part time job to help pay the bills is certainly not what I had in plan for 2020." - Jason Moloney, former Commonwealth bantamweight champion and world title challenger

Thanks to John Angus MacDonald for Gary Cully interview