By Terence Dooley
Kerry Kayes brought EBU lightweight champion John Murray and British 135-pound boss Anthony Crolla to the East Manchester Academy on Friday to talk to the local youth about the importance of hard work and dedication. Kayes was raised in the area, Murray used to live near the school and Crolla lives a stone's throw away from the recently opened building. The visit was set-up by Claudia Conerney, the school's literacy coordinator, it gave the children a chance to meet their boxing heroes and was followed by a question and answer session.
Kayes built his nutrition supplements company, CNP, from scratch, his gym, Betta Bodies, has been running for decades – it housed Billy Graham's Phoenix Camp and is the current home of Gallagher's Gym. Kerry opened proceedings with a slide show of his most memorable moments in the sports of boxing, body building and football before handing over to Murray and Crolla. Both fighters brought their titles, they impressed on the pupils the importance of working hard in school.
"I travel all around the world teaching people about nutrition and it is great to visit a school right here in Beswick to talk to young people about the need for literacy and paying attention in school,” explained Kayes.
“I built CNP up from nothing and learned a lot about business through just getting out there and doing things for myself. I also know how important it is to get your education and your GCSEs. I hope that this visit inspires these kids in a number of ways. Boxers have to be punch perfect to get to the top but if these kids are punctuation perfect then they'll have plenty to look forward to in life.”
Murray started boxing at the age of fourteen. Despite this late start, he has amassed a 30-0 (18) professional record. The 26-year-old told those in attendance that it is never too late to follow your dreams.
He said, “I grew up in Manchester and went to school just around the corner from here. I lived near this school for a while so it was great to come and tell the kids about my boxing achievements and show them my European and British titles.
“These kids can go on and be whatever they want to be. They have seen what they can achieve through hard work and dedication. I didn't start boxing until I was into my teens. These kids don't have to follow me into boxing but I hope they realise that it is never too late to follow your ambitions. You can get what you want in life through hard work and discipline.”
Anthony Crolla won the British lightweight title by stopping Liverpool's John Watson in the ninth round last Saturday night. 'Million Dollar' talked about his title win as well as pointing out that his recent success can be boiled down to two things, hard work and discipline.
“I've been on cloud nine since winning my British lightweight title, doing stuff like this is something that I take seriously as it is part and parcel of being a champion,” stressed the 20-2 (8) champion.
“I live just down the road and had my own set-backs earlier in my boxing career. I carried on working hard in the gym and all my work paid off with last week's win over John Watson. Hopefully the kids in attendance today will go away knowing that they can go far in life if they listen to their teachers and stay in school.”
Both fighters are trained by Joe Gallagher. The coach is currently on a 42-0 winning streak; he was unable to attend the session as he is putting the finishing touches to Joe Murray's preparations ahead of next weekend's fight against Daniel Kodjo Sassou. Gallagher sent his own personal message of support.
“I know the importance of reading and writing in whatever career you choose to follow so you should always make sure that you pay attention in school and keep your ears open at all times. It is also great that lads such as Anthony Crolla and John Murray visit local schools to talk to the kids about what they can achieve,” declared Gallagher.
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