Ex-Sunderland manager sends Olympic ace Josh Kelly good luck message ahead of pro debut

Carlton Fairweather
Carlton Fairweather
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Fight star Josh Kelly has been sent a good luck message from his old coach ahead of his big night in Glasgow – his football coach.

Before finding success in the boxing ring, the Sunderland talent had tried to make it as a footballer.

Josh Kelly

Josh Kelly

Kelly had stints at the academies of Hartlepool and Sunderland before he downsized his workspace from a football field to the sqaure ring.

Carlton Fairweather, who was the youngster’s coach at the Academy of Light, wishes the 23-year-old well for his professional debut against Jay Byrne at the SSE Hydro Arena.

“I wish Josh well,” said Fairweather, who left Sunderland last month after two successful years as coach of Sunderland Ladies.

“We coach a lot of youngsters through the academy but only a tiny percentage make it through, like Jordan Pickford.

“Obviously boxing was Josh’s sport, not football, so it’s fantastic to see him turning pro.

“The great thing about boxing is that you do everything for yourself, so you have to make sure you prepare properly and you have trained well.

“Obviously footballers have to do the same but as much as you can prepare perfectly you can get let down by other people because it’s a team sport.

“But boxing is an individual sport and it’s down to Josh once he gets in there.

“While I’m no longer working for Sunderland, the place has been a big part of my life for a lot of years and it’s nice to see someone from the city doing so well.”

Kelly will be cheered on by 150 fans at the SSE Hydro Arena this evening against what looks like being a difficult first test.

The ex-Houghton ABC star, who will have coach Adam Booth in his corner for the first time, said: “I’m pretty chilled to be fair. I’m excited, I know the job in front of me and can’t wait to get in.”