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I got the chance to catch up with boxer Ross Burkinshaw, to go over his career highlights, his views on homophobia within sport, and what’s next for this talented athlete.
For some of our readers the world of boxing is probably less well known. Can you give us all a brief history of your career and how you got to the stage you’re at now ?
I started boxing training at the age of 8. I had my first amateur fight on 22 October 1997 and won at the Manor Social Club in Sheffield.
In 2003, I joined the British Army. I boxed for the Army Boxing team for a few years and became Combined services Champion. So I was Champ of the Army Navy and RAF.
In 2006, I had permission to become a professional Boxer while still earning an army wage. I turned pro under Frank Maloney, who is now Kellie Maloney. I became champion of England in 2009.
October 2013, I left my old trainer and manager Glyn Rhodes, then teamed up with Ryan Rhodes as my trainer and Dennis Hobson as my manager and promoter.
September 2014, I became Commonwealth Champion and a few weeks ago became the WBO European champ.
In terms of career highlights, what would you say has been the pinnacle of your career so far?
I took my Commonwealth title fight with only four days’ notice against an unbeaten fighter and he was also already a champion. We had a 12-round war and I won, when lots didn’t believe I could. So that one is up there with the best!
In a sport where dedication and commitment is required, what keeps you so motivated and how do you manage to juggle work and home life?
I am so determined to achieve after a number of years I had out, due to injury, not only to prove what I can do to everybody, but also to prove it to myself.
I have got a wife and two boys – they’re my biggest inspiration. My wife works full time to enable me to train and achieve my dreams.
For some people boxing as a sport is often seen as very violent. How do you work to change this view?
I believe lots of people think like this, but from meeting me as a person and talking to me, 99 percent of the time I change their view.
I have lots of people come to support me from all walks of life and different classes.
I am ambassador for Sheffield Wednesday community program, Sheffield FC, Hallam FM Cash for Kids and also Balls to Cancer, so this must show I am far from the stereotype of a boxer.
I can see you like to support local businesses (most notably Drop Dead Clothing). Would you say that you’re interested in fashion?
Yes, very much so, and I appreciate any items of clothing sent to me. Drop Dead have been a clothing sponsor of mine from the early days of my career and I love their range of clothing.
It must be hard sometimes with media exposure to keep yourself grounded, but you seem to do a pretty good job of staying humble. What is it that keeps you this way?
Since I was eight years old I have always known I would reach the levels in boxing that I am doing and have always been in the company of celebrities such as Puff Daddy, Ollie Sykes, Matt Helders, Alex turner, Prince Naseem and many, many more. I believe this is one of the reasons why I am so grounded. At the end of the day I am only a human, achieving something due to my talent.
Training comes with anyone serious in their chosen field, but just how often do you train and what does it consist of? I’m imagining Rocky Balboa and hearing ‘Eye of the Tiger’ …
I train twice a day – this consists of mixing my training up with boxing, weights, sprints, running, walking and swimming. On a long run I like a Johnny Cash album on!
Some sports have an image of being homophobic. What are your opinions on this? How do you think as whole it should be tackled within sport?
Within the world we live in, you will always come across ignorant people. Personally I have a range of friends all with different origins and sexualities, so it’s not something that crosses my mind. Each to their own, as long as we are happy and have our health, all is good in my eyes.
Its clear you’re extremely proud of your hometown, Sheffield. What is it about Sheffield that keeps you so loyal?
I am a working class lad and I believe the Steel City is full of working class people. These people are the ones who have and still continue to support me.
I’m sure out of interest our readers will want to know – what have been the worst injuries you have sustained during a fight and is it sheer adrenaline alone that gets you through to the end?
I have dislocated my right shoulder in the second round of a fight – this was pure pain! I carried on with just my left arm, until the referee stopped the fight.
Who would your dream fight be against and why?
I haven’t got a particular person for my dream fight, but I have a dream belt, so whoever is champion of that at the time I’m ready to take it. They will be my dream fight.
Outside of boxing what other interests do you have and could you see yourself one day embarking on a new career?
I am a family man so I love doing stuff with my wife and kids. After boxing I would like to get into modelling, acting or maybe even commentating.
Enjoying huge success so early into 2015, where does the rest of the year see you heading, and how can our readers keep up to speed with your next fights?
Me and my team are looking at the world scene, so there’s lots more exciting stuff still to come for 2015. You can keep up with me on twitter @ROSSTHEBOSS_B or on my website rossthebossbox.co.uk. Watch this space!