THERE are 303 – yes, three hundred and three – unopened and unread text messages on Josh Kelly’s phone. He shows me. Proves it. It’s excessive, I think, the lengths to which he’ll go to ignore human contact, but, for Kelly, the number 303 is indicative of how he copes rather than a mark of rudeness. “I put everyone on mute,” he explains. “Only Adam [Booth, coach], my fiancée and my dad are left unmuted. But sometimes I’ll mute my fiancée and my dad as well.”
Looks can be deceiving. Josh Kelly, known as “Pretty Boy”, pretty enough to appear in a JD Sports advert, doesn’t care for interviews, doesn’t want to become a celebrity, and doesn’t like having to deal with anybody outside the confines of his gym or family home. Perceived perks of a flourishing boxing career are, in Kelly’s complicated mind, riddled only with pitfalls. It’s why he intends to avoid them altogether: the fame, the social media posts, the outside world.