I was 13 years old and had been boxing for three years. I was champion of England for my 63kgs weight category – yeah, I was a big kid and pretty mature for my age. One of the main reasons I had success at that age was because I could punch hard which was great, but it also had its downside.
Because my body wasn’t developed and I was punching so hard, the thing that was taking the most punishment were my hands. They were always swelling up and, to be honest, back then I didn’t mind. In fact, I kind of liked it. Going to school with swollen hands brought me attention and it was the kind of attention I liked as a 13-year-old kid.
One big benefit of this was that when I hurt my right hand, I would go to the gym and only work on my left hand – jabs and hooks to the body – and sometimes this was for weeks, so I became really strong and fast on the left side. Then, when I hurt my left hand, the same thing happened with my right hand – it became stronger and better.