“I have never been as happy as I’ve been in the last seven weeks, going back in the gym with my son – who never saw me fight – and training, it’s just amazing. Boxing is what I do. It’s so natural. I’m not a climber, I’m not a performer, I’m not a commentator. I’m a fighter.”
Former world cruiserweight champion Glenn McCrory is also 56-years-old and he hasn’t boxed in almost 30 years. Now he’s hoping to mix it up with Roy Jones and says there’s talk about the two of them meeting in late June in Newcastle, possibly in the Vertu Arena or even in St James’s Park. Nothing is signed, but McCrory is hopeful.
“I’ve been working for weeks,” he added. “I’ve been busting my ass. I’m of the opinion that this is happening and it’s wonderful. It’s not signed or over the line yet. Roy’s said yes, I’ve said yes. Simon Whittle at Tuff Boxing says he can put it on, so we need to get it over the line. Roy’s going to go on and do something else soon. This is a dream for me. This is redemption. It’s like Rocky Balboa – so I can walk away.”
One famous Balboa monologue saw Rocky talk about needing to box again because he had ‘something in the basement’.
Glenn has that same feeling.
“I need this fight. I need it to put a tick next to the box and say, ‘I can go into pasture now.’ The one thing they could never take away from me was my heart. They could take my money, take my titles, take my desire but they could never take my heart. There’s so much fire in the basement. I’m trying to get satisfaction with myself and I can’t.”
McCrory, despite his world title, believes his career was a case of what might have been rather than what actually was.
He said he was fleeced by his old team and then left boxing in disgust; his promise unfulfilled. That’s what burns him now and it’s why he wants to fight again.
“Because I had to walk away from the sport I love, because my treatment was so bad,” he explained. “When you’re on the dole and you win a world title and you sign off and then your manger and promoter get you beat and go away with your wages and you have to come back and fight Lennox Lewis just to pay the tax bill, it’s horrific, and it’s tormented my life. I never got to see my peak. The world never got to see the best of me. I was just fed to the lions. I still came out of it with a world championship but I’d have loved to see how good I could have been because I think I could have been up there – not just winning the world title but being a real name, and that never came. And that’s life, I can understand that. But, if I can come back 28 years later and I’ve not been hitting bags, I’ve not been hitting pads, I haven’t stayed in the gym, I’ve lived life, but to get back would be the biggest achievement of my life. Emanuel Steward once said to me he wished the one person he’d trained was me – and do you know how much that hurt me and how thrilled I was at that but how it made me think what could have been? Could I have been up there with those hallowed names and those legends of the game? I won a world title and that’s amazing, I can sleep at night. But I never became what I should have been.”
McCrory was not only a world champion but he had a long commentary career post-boxing, he’s appeared in West End productions and little more than a year ago he climbed the world’s eighth highest peak, Manaslu, without any formal mountain climbing experience (“It was the most horrific thing I’ve done. I was staying alive every day.”)
“I’m not afraid of a challenge,” he said. “This is the biggest challenge of all and to do this would be amazing but it would also make people think, ‘If he’d been looked after properly…’”
So why Roy?
“God works in amazing ways and Roy called me out,” he added. “[Evander] Holyfield would have always been my dream because I never got that chance to ever get the big names, that never happened, but Roy is… I can’t say he’s the greatest fighter of all-time because I think Sugar Ray Robinson is, but he’s a damn close second. For me, just to be in the ring with him, at this age, would make me see what might have been. I was retired at 25. I was world champion, I retired at 25 having lost five of six fights at heavyweight – that just doesn’t happen. You’ve got to look and think, what went wrong there?”
Glenn covered Jones’s fight with McCrory’s old sparmate Mike Tyson as part of the broadcast team on BT Sport and that’s another reason why his inner fire is lit.
“I’ve got history with Mike Tyson,” he went on. “I was there in his prime and shared the ring with him in his prime but I had a certain amount of trepidation [watching Tyson-Jones] as they were legends and I’d covered their whole careers so I wasn’t sure what to expect and they were great. They exceeded expectations. For their age, they were still formidable fighters and it made you realise why they were legends.”
Naysayers will point to older fighters getting damaged and the risk factor. For Glenn, the risk comes in not fighting.
“My argument is everybody has to be healthy and monitored,” he went on. “Life is a gift. Sometimes people suffer more from things than other people do. We don’t choose our death date but we choose how we live. I lost my brother at a young age, so I’ve been through that. I’ve been through a lot in life. I’m not afraid to die because we’re all going to die. Sometimes I’ve been afraid of living…”
And what about those who don’t take him seriously, who know him only as a pundit and who think he should stay retired.
“I’d say Captain Tom [who raised millions for the NHS walking around his garden at the age of 100], I’d say look at the girl who just crossed the Atlantic in a boat, I’d say I climbed a mountain with no training whatsoever for charity and I’d say you need to stop second-guessing other people and do something else yourself,” he continued. “We all have to challenge ourselves. So many people get off trying to put other people down and that’s wrong, you’ve got to look inside yourself. For me it’s about redemption. It’s about having my day in the sun. And if my day in the sun is at 56 then I’m okay with that. It’s not a risk, it’s an absolute honour.”