Josh Taylor has admitted that he had to stop himself from ‘kicking people in the head’ during sparring after making the switch from taekwondo to boxing.
The Tartan Tornado will defend his WBA (Super), IBF, WBC, WBO and The Ring belts against mandatory challenger Jack Catterall tonight at the OVO Arena in Glasgow.
Currently the undisputed super-lightweight champion of the world, Taylor was born in the Scottish town of Prestonpans in 1991.
A decorated amateur, he took up boxing in 2006 at the age of 15 and began a journey which would see him compete in different countries all over the world.
He represented Scotland at both the 2010 and 2014 Commonwealth Games, losing to Thomas Stalker in Delhi before winning the gold medal in Glasgow.
But before he started boxing, however, he practiced taekwondo as a child growing up in East Lothian.
Taylor, 31, told talkSPORT: “I was a black belt in taekwondo.
“I was going all over the place doing competitions and then got into teaching it as well.
“But then it started taking over my life a little bit, where I was training all week and then on the weekends I was coaching.
“I just fell out of love with it a little bit.
“But I always loved the training and doing the combat side of it.
“I just wanted to get something to do to keep fit really.
“I was watching Alex Arthur on the boxing – when I was a young kid, he was challenging for titles.
“He trained at my mum’s work – the Meadowbank Sports Center in Edinburgh.
“My mum’s very friendly with him, so I managed to go in and watched him training a couple of times.
“Then I started joining in with him. I was just sitting, watching him. I was starstruck at the time and not saying much.
“He was like, ‘Get up and do something, you’re just sitting there not doing nothing, join in.’
“I started hitting the bag and he asked if I’d boxed before.
“He was like, ‘Oh you look like you’ve boxed before.’
“That’s how it started. I ended up doing near enough all his training camp with him while I was on my school holidays.”
Taylor is widely considered one of the best pound-for-pound boxers in the world, but according to the man himself he had a hard time adjusting at first to the different ruleset.
He added: “I think my footwork and coordination definitely helped from the taekwondo.
“That definitely gave me the basis of how to move around the boxing ring.
“I knew how to throw punches.
“It was quite easy for me to pick it up.
“The thing that was hard for me to do was to stop kicking people in the head, which I did a couple of times in my first couple of sparring sessions.
“The coach wasn’t too happy and I had to explain what my background was.
“A couple of times for a few weeks I was lifting my legs when people were coming to attack me.
“I enjoyed it from the get-go.”
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