VPT boxing spotlight – meet Noel Callan

21st February

Boxing training guru Noel Callan has been a leading light at Gymbox for three years. He tells us what it's like training boxing upstart Hannah Rankin, and why he believes she's ready to take both the European and World titles. "Her will and drive to succeed makes her stand out as an athlete more than any other boxer or athlete I have trained with”.

I really like Gymbox because they have a different vibe from normal commercial gyms. Everybody is there to take their training to the next level, to push themselves through barriers. The new Gymbox Farringdon site is out of this world, you couldn't ask for a better place to train professional athletes. Or if you're a member, a better place to push your own limits to see what you can achieve. The space, layout and range of equipment and classes can't be beaten anywhere in London.

Before I became a fighter and trainer, I was an a avid boxing fan. Then in 2004, which was a little later in my life, I decided to learn how to box. I did my training at both the Fitzroy Lodge boxing club in south London, and Dagenham ABC boxing club in east London. I fought a number of times as an amateur boxer, and then competed in a number of other striking combat sports such as K1 kickboxing and Thai boxing.

I opted for coaching after a number of injuries. Through this I very quickly found out I was a better coach and tactician than I'd ever been as a fighter. I'm currently involved in the training of a number of professional boxers, such as the southern area heavyweight champion who's about to fight for the English heavyweight title, the southern area super lightweight champion, and the WBC silver middleweight world female champion.

Noel_2.jpg?mtime=20170221095110#asset:395216:urlCoaching is very rewarding, seeing how they evolve and grow as individuals and as fighters. Teaching someone a new skill, and then watching them pull this skill off whilst under the pressure of a fight is amazing. Also, seeing the expressions of joy on their faces when their hand is raised at the end of a contest.

I'm a member of the British Boxing Board of Control. This is the governing body for professional boxing in the UK, and the strictest boxing governing body in the world. This is important as they implement all the checks and medical examinations and are in charge of the boxers safety. They issue trainers like myself, and boxers, with their professional licenses.

I've been coaching Hannah Rankin for two years. Her will and drive to succeed, and dedication to perfecting whatever I set her to do, makes her stand out as an athlete. She has so much willingness to push herself further than any other boxer or athlete I have trained with. I will continually push her for more as she has an ability to cope with the workload I put on her.

I'm currently coaching her to compete professionally. Our aim for her first year is to have five fights in 2017. If we win all of these, we will be on our way to a position where we could challenge whoever is the European champion at the time for their belt and title. Our goal is to work towards this, as in this country there are no English or British titles for female boxers. I believe Hannah can go on and win this title, and possibly a world title, but the next the 12 months are vital.

She has already competed in several fights, where she hasn’t lost once. I'm extremely proud of her! Only the coaches around the fighters see the highs and lows. It's very hard. To date hannah has competed on white collar boxing shows. Although these shows are well run, they are not professional shows licensed by the British Boxing Board of control. So we're looking forward to entering the professional field now. She's ready.

Coaching Hannah is easy. As with her music, she likes to get it right first time. She does get frustrated if she gets it wrong, and will obsess over it until it's correct. This is one of the reasons I think we make a good team, as I'm exactly the same. The only real clashes we've had are over her lifting weights to push her body to be stronger and more explosive. She hates them and I love them! But, we are getting there, and she's learning to do them even if they're not on her list of favourite things to do.

Noel_3.jpg?mtime=20170221095209#asset:395217:urlWomen are better to teach as they have less egos than men. They are happy to do something basic over and over again, to get it 100 per cent right, whereas my male fighters want to do it a few times, and move on to the next thing. Which is not the best way.

I make a good coach because I'll always find a way to teach someone. Everyone learns at a different pace, and in a different way, and one approach does not fit everyone. That's what my strength is.

Follow Noel on Twitter, and catch up on Hannah's interview in the next couple of days.

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