I recently interviewed the boxer Anthony Crolla. I had always wanted to interview a boxer. There were questions I had always puzzled over. Such as whether Hollywood really depicts the life of a boxer correctly: drinking raw eggs at the crack of dawn springs to mind. Also, what was it like to know, knives and guns aside, you could diffuse any rowdy situation with your unique set of skills.
I will be honest; I did have my reservations about Mr.Crolla. He was filling in for a guest who I had already booked, before she pulled out due to 'contractual issues.' My mind latched onto the public's perception of boxers. They are surely all dull, uneducated brutes that bludgeon other peoples faces for a living. In the case of Anthony Crolla, that could not be further from the truth. Well, he still bludgeons faces, but he was a true gentleman, harking back to the days of respect between fighters. Not the trash talking vermin that constantly give the sport a bad name.
Being a lightweight, Mr. Crolla is hardly the most intimidating individual you are likely to meet. Baby faced and average height, if you saw him in a dark alley you wouldn't cower; but rather ask if he had lost his mother. Even if you watch the interview you will note how I tower over him. This is not to say I would fancy my chances in a scuffle. Definitely not. I'd run away... or hop on to the nearest segway.
The beauty about interviewing an athlete that is not quite at the pinnacle of their profession, is that honesty prevails. Anthony did not shirk at any of my questions. There was no diva behaviour. Although his nickname is Million Dollar Crolla, he assured me it was in reference to one of his favourite films, Million Dollar Baby. "Money Mayweather," cannot claim as such. He is just a repulsive ostentatious sportsman. Crolla is not.
For non-boxing aficionados, Anthony has a very big fight coming up on March 30th for the Commonwealth Lightweight title. Effectively it's a rematch between him and Derry Mathews, this time in Mathew's home city of Liverpool. Mathews won the first one in Oldham, yet it was a memorable and very closely fought contest. Crolla, a true Mancunian told me how much he relishes the banter that fans stoke up ahead of their meetings. North West rivalry, he told me, is more fun than malicious.
Crolla's training is going well, part of which being the duty to forego eating his favourite guilty pleasure: chocolate flakes. A pity really, as flakes are rather nice. Yet this is a man who is determined to put things right. Revenge is not etched over his face, nor is a blatant loathing of his opponent. Crolla is a consummate professional, focused on simply doing his job to the best of his ability.
Last week the two fighters went on skysports to promote their fight. Instead of hurling objects at eachother (Mr.Haye and Mr.Chisora), they oozed respect. How refreshing. Anthony Crolla is an example to our countries youth. Go forth and prosper.