Anthony Crolla chats candidly with Umbreen Khan as he approaches the final stages of his glorious career
The vast majority of boxers find it difficult to walk away from the sport. The routine and discipline it provides makes it hard for fighters of any level to give up, but for those who have operated at the top level they must also come to terms with losing the spotlight and attention to which they have become accustomed. Boxing, and the things that come along with it, are addictive, which is why so many boxers go on too long and only the exceeding few exit with a victory.
Whether former WBA lightweight champion Anthony Crolla, last seen losing to Vasiliy Lomachenko in April, will be one of that fortunate group remains to be seen but the likeable Manchester everyman accepts that he will find out sooner rather than later.
“I’m coming to that myself very soon and I know right now that I’m going to struggle, so I’ve got to prepare myself the best I possibly can to be able to deal with that,” acknowledged Crolla, who turns 33 in November. “When you do something, when you have that routine day in day out for so many years for all your adult life, almost to then have that took away from you. It’s like ‘oh wow’, you sort of feel like you lose your identity so it’s something you’ve got to prepare yourself for the best that you possibly can. I mean you don’t want to stay in the sport too long because it takes more from you than you take from it. Yeah, there’s no denying it’s tough and it’s going to be tough.”
Crolla has been preparing for his life after boxing for some time. Often seen helping out in the corner of his Joe Gallagher-trained stablemates, “Million Dollar” also works with amateurs and recently began training his first fellow professional fighter in 3-0 Dylan Evans.
“I love doing this what I’m doing now,” Crolla revealed. “I’m very thankful for the opportunity, I’ve helped train the amateurs, I’ve got a professional fighter myself. Whether I take more or not in the future I don’t know but you know I’m just… 100 per cent boxing is a huge part of my life and it always will be.”
Crolla is well aware of the cautionary tales that litter the boxing landscape, the ex-world champions who deteriorate into ill health and poverty; yesterday’s heroes all too quickly forgotten. He does not claim to have the solution and is not convinced the onus should fall on promoters, but is determined that something is done.
“I’m not sure how you’d go about doing it but even if it was like some kind of meeting,” he suggests. “I don’t know, you have ex-boxers meetings, I’ve been to a lot of them myself. Or the word could get out more about it, so you know the boxing family then, if someone is struggling they can try and help them out.
“I’m one of them who believes it’s so hard for promoters you know, listen you’ve got to be honest like, they are all businessmen, they have connections with fighters and stuff like that but at the same time it’s not as easy as that. Not all promoters, certainly ones away from TV, are making fortunes or making money. Some of them are losing a lot of money so for them, they haven’t always got that to put in. Yeh, I mean you could do a little bit to raise awareness, I don’t know but it’s so much more. It’s not just, a lot of people’s view are, ‘Oh the promoters earn a fortune, they don’t give anything back’; that’s not always the case, I know that.”