Daily Star

CROLLA TO BE KINDwith

Ant agrees to help pros after heavy holiday binge

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ANTHONY CROLLA was on a lads holiday in Portugal when his coaching journey really started.

But the former WBA lightweigh­t champion admitted he was caught in a vulnerable moment when nursing a hangover.

Crolla’s phone rang as he sat in a coffee shop in Albufeira, after a heavy night drinking something a little stronger than the double espresso he was about to order.

“I’ll be honest, I thought I was just going to coach the amateurs,” said the Manchester fighter who retired in 2019 after a storied career of 45 fights with 35 wins.

“Then I got a phone call the morning after a first day of a lads holiday and I got asked to train Rhiannon Dixon off her manager at the time and James Moorcroft, but I said, ‘Listen, we will do a session and see.’

“If I wasn’t hungover, I’d have probably told him to get lost.” But it has worked out well. On April 13, Crolla will be back at Manchester Arena, where he had so many memorable nights, hoping to lead Dixon to a world lightweigh­t title.

“It was once when being hungover and vulnerable paid off,” added Crolla.

The man once called ‘Million Dollar’ is now managing fighters and co-founded ‘Project Boxing’ Dominic McGuinness. The project supports fighters by working with business partners to provide job opportunit­ies, career advice, sponsorshi­p and funding for overseas training.

Crolla is building a strong stable at Fox ABC, with profession­als in the day and amateurs in the evening, in Oldham. But it’s not his first gym.

“I had, in the space of 15 months, two gyms go on fire,” he said. “One got burnt to the ground and the other one was smoke and water damage.

“We were in a marquee for eight months. It was tough and testing but if I could put up with that, then I can deal with anything.

“Some of the fighters hardly get a wage – if they get paid nothing, you get a percentage of nothing.

“But you hope the big nights will come.”

He’s hoping one of them nights will be with his brother William, whose next outing is on February 24.

“If he can pick up a title or have a big 50/50 fight at the arena, then I would be the proudest big brother,” added Crolla.

 ?? ?? LEARNING THE ROPES: Anthony Crolla gives some advice to youngsters and (inset) ringside with James Moorcroft
LEARNING THE ROPES: Anthony Crolla gives some advice to youngsters and (inset) ringside with James Moorcroft
 ?? ?? EYES ON PRIZE: Rhiannon Dixon
EYES ON PRIZE: Rhiannon Dixon

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