Danny Flexen speaks to welterweight contender Josh Kelly about fatherhood and its impact on his boxing career
It’s been an eventful last 12 months for Sunderland’s welterweight contender Josh Kelly. Wife Remy gave birth to their first child, son JJ (Josh Junior) in November, just eight days before he made short work of Walter Castillo to move to 8-0. Less than a month later, WBA International and former Commonwealth champion Kelly was forced to withdraw, after weighing in, from an anticipated clash with David Avensyan, due to illness. Fortunes rose again in April this year with a wide points victory over previously unbeaten Przemyslaw Runowski which led to a coveted slot on the Anthony Joshua vs Andy Ruiz Jr undercard in June at New York’s legendary Madison Square Garden. That saw a step up in class and the first blemish on Olympian “PBK’s” record, as he was held to a majority draw by underrated Ray Robinson. Adam Booth-trained Kelly was devastated but quickly put it behind him to get married to Remy in July and the growing realisation that he now has a family to support serves to drive Josh on.
“I’ve been ticking over since after the wedding,” the 25-year-old told me. “Adam came out to Spain and it’s nice and hot and humid. We’ve got a bag on the roof. I got the kid and me wife, so I’ve got to really now start providing for both of em; there’s no slacking now. I’ve been learning on the job but I’ve still got lots of years in it. I’ve got plenty of time to learn and develop.”
Right now, Kelly is not just learning in the ring but also at home, as the doting but perhaps a tad overprotective father of a precious 10-month old.
“Seeing your missus give birth, it’s madness,” he laughs, still seemingly awestruck. “The kid belongs to you, well it’s 50-50, but it gives u a mad feeling when you hold him. He’s now shouting his head off, crawling around, trying to walk. I try to be as hands-on as I can. I’m the soft one, my missus is the hard one. I try to let him have a taste of everything, I’m trying to give him ice cream and stuff, but when he bumps his head I’m like, ‘He needs to go to hospital!’ I’ve found at least four grey hairs on my head! I’m a soft-hearted person I guess, if I weren’t boxing I’d just be a nice guy.”
The two aren’t actually mutually exclusive and Kelly is further proof of that.