WATCH Crolla delivers knockout talk
Wednesday 27th June 2018 @ 16:48 by Mark Phillip

Greswell Primary School pupils were given a knockout talk by professional boxer Anthony Crolla on Wednesday.

The 31-year-old, who held the WBA lightweight title from 2015 until 2016, delivered a motivational speech as part of the National School Sport Week.

The initiative, which is taking place up and down the country, encourages children to develop a ‘healthy habit of playing sport’.

In a bid to plant a seed of interest, Greswell pupils have been taking part in a number of activities, including archery and laser shooting.

But before they resumed their activities on Wednesday morning, the children were given an extra does of inspiration when Crolla, who last fought in May and defeated Edson Ramirez at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, gave a thumping talk about his life as a boxer and the highs and lows that come with it.

Speaking to Reporter Sport about his visit, Crolla hoped his speech would inspire the pupils and help them achieve their future goals. He said: “I’ve just tried to encourage them to work hard in school, because as I was saying in my talk, I did ok at school but I could have done a little bit better in my exams, which is my only regret, and I think I a few years time, when I’ve finished boxing, I’ll have to take a few more exams which I could have got away with doing if I’d listened a bit more. I did love school though – those were the best days of my life.”

Prior to hitting the heights he currently enjoys, Crolla was told he would never make it. He insisted that, with perseverance and belief, anyone can achieve their aims and objectives. “It’s great having people support you, but it’s also nice to prove people wrong” said Crolla.

“When someone tells you you can’t do something and then you go and do it, it’s a great feeling and hopefully it will inspire other people.

“That’s what I’ve been talking to the children about and hopefully I’ve put that message across. I’m sure these children will have plenty of knocks – I suffered my fair share in my career when I could have walked away – and so I’ve told the children that it’s not going to be one straightforward path, as there’ll be highs and there’ll certainly be lows, but they make you stronger. The lows definitely make that final goal, when you reach the destination, a whole lot sweeter.”

As a proud Mancunian, Crolla said it’s a massive honour to fight at his hometown arena in front of a packed out audience. “I feel so blessed, because when I was a similar age to some of these children, I’d be in the upper tier watching some of the greats of British boxing, so for me to fight there, to top bills there, I have to pinch myself at times because life goes so quick. I remember 20 years ago being there, throughout Ricky Hatton’s career and even before that, dreaming that one day that I’d be a world champion at fighting at the arena, and that’s what I’ve done.”

Had he not become a professional boxer, Crolla said his dream would be to play for United. And when his boxing schedule allows for it, he’ll often be spotted at Old Trafford on match days. Reflecting on the 2017/18 campaign, Crolla said there were ups and downs but expects his club to do better this season. He said: “I think by the time the season had come to an end I was happy like most Reds. I went to Wembley for the FA Cup Final, and it was certainly a disappointing first half, and it’s never nice to lose in finals. I think this season we’ve got to strengthen up in the summer, make a few signings and I think we’ve got to be challenging for the title. As good as Manchester City were, they can’t be winning the league by that amount of points again. I think this season is going to be a huge season.”

And as for England’s World Cup chances, Crolla had the following to say: “It’s coming home!”.

A full video interview of Crolla, along with the rest of events at Greswell, has been uploaded to the Tameside Reporter Facebook page.