quizblorg (quizblorg) wrote in ohnotheydidnt,

Dancing on Ice star Luke Campbell on how boxing saved him

The 25-year-old is charming, modest and cheerful – characteristics he says he owes to the sport which saved him from a life of aggression and crime

At 5.30am in the chilly shadow of Hull’s Humber Bridge, Olympic champion boxer Luke Campbell arrives for his gruelling daily run.

The Dancing On Ice star, who won gold at London 2012, declares, “It’s the thought of losing that drives me”, as he starts his training regime in the fog by the river.

But despite his obvious determination, the 25-year-old is charming, modest and cheerful – characteristics he says he owes to the sport which saved him from a life of thuggery, aggression and crime.

“I wasn’t a nice kid at all,” he explains. “I was a very aggressive person, short-tempered and always in and out of trouble at school.

“I wasn’t a nice person to be around as a youngster and my family and friends would tell you that, too.

“It was a slippery slope I was on really, looking back.

"Boxing teaches you discipline and without that it was only a matter of time before I got myself into trouble with the police.

“But at 13 I joined a boxing gym and I found it was a way to channel my aggression into something positive.

"I knew my own flaws, but until then I didn’t know how to control them.

“I’ve been very lucky and my family know how differently things could have turned out if I hadn’t found the discipline of sport.”

“I know other people who have ended up involved in crimes and assaults, and it could easily have been me.”

Arriving back at the comfy home he shares with partner Lynsey and their two children Leo and Lincoln, it’s easy to see why Luke feels fortunate.

The fighter, awarded an MBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours list, is riding high after his golden summer, but is thoughtful about his future.

“It’s a really big decision to make,” he says. “Dancing On Ice has been great for a few months to give me something else to concentrate on.

“I’ve managed to get to the top at 25, and I’d be lying if I said I’m not considering turning professional but it’s too early to know exactly.

“Lynsey doesn’t want me to at all. She knows professional boxing can be a dangerous sport.

"But I’ve got a family to provide for, too.
I need to do what’s right for the long term.”

His relationship with childhood sweetheart Lynsey began six years ago when the pair were 19 and Luke says spending time away from her on the show has sometimes been awkward.

“She was my first proper girlfriend,” he explains as we leave to drive to the St Paul’s Boxing Academy where he learned his craft.

“To be honest, spending so much time with my professional partner Jenna has made me feel very uncomfortable.

"I’ve never been so close to another girl and I’ll be glad when that side is over.

“There have been lots of embarrassing slip-ups and misplaced hands as we’re practising and it makes me feel terrible.

"Jenna is used to it but I know for a lot of the contestants it’s their partners back at home who feel uncomfortable with it. I’m lucky Lynsey has been so good about it.

“I guess she just trusts me – I hope so anyway!”

A fall on the ice left him with whiplash and he’s displaying a nasty gash on his leg after catching American pro partner Jenna Smith’s blade – but the young fighter is matter of fact.

“In boxing you need to have a profile to sell tickets and my coaches are realistic about that,” he says.

“Hopefully I won’t get any really bad knocks, but everyone is right behind me which is great.”

We pull up at the boxing club in Luke’s Range Rover – the loan from a local garage is a perk of his local hero status.

We’re similar height and build, so I’m feeling relaxed as I climb into the ring for a sparring session alongside his coaching team Paul Kershaw and Mike Bromby.

But Luke’s fists move at lightning speed and with lethal accuracy, and moments later I’m out of breath, slumped in the red corner as the team generously massage my ego and insist I’m “not that bad, for a complete beginner”.

Putting me through my paces on a punchbag, Luke explains: “I’d usually do a couple of hours of this a day. That’s the side people don’t see.

"A 15-minute fight on TV at London 2012 had years of hard graft in the run-up to it. What’s a shame is that there is absolutely no funding for clubs like this.

“Even after the Olympics, all I got was a letter saying congratulations. In this country you’re on your own unless you get really lucky with big sponsors.

“For a long time while I was training I got by on £55 a month after I’d paid my bills, which isn’t easy.”

Leaving the gym and walking to the city centre Luke is frequently stopped by fans, and it’s clear he’s an admirable ambassador for the Olympics – though he admits he routinely loses his gold medal thanks to his poor short-term memory, caused by his dyslexia.

“It was buried in the boot of the car last time,” he laughs.

On Sunday he takes to the ice for the first time and though he insists he’s “not really nailed it yet” watching him rehearse I sense a degree of modesty at work.

“Fortunately I think I’m among the stronger skaters from what I’ve seen,” he admits, “but I’m my own biggest critic so it won’t bother me too much if Jason Gardiner starts trying to slag me off.

“Actually I know he’s supposed to be Mr Nasty and everyone’s scared of him, but I’m really not.

"I really like him. At least you know where you stand with someone if they’re always honest.”

Tags: british celebrities, sports / athletes

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