ANTHONY Crolla stepped up preparations for the defence of his WBA Lightweight World Title on May 7 with a special training session on Salford Quays with his ‘Crolla Army’.
The army, formed of 12 people, were carefully chosen by Crolla based on their backstory and motivation to be involved, will represent the boxer at the Great Manchester Run on May 22.
Crolla put the team through their paces with some light sparring and casual jogging along the Quays to give them a sense of his mindset ahead of his fight with Venezuelan Ismael Barroso.
I take inspiration from my team of runners who include people who’ve fought major difficulties in their life, including cancer, to come back stronger. Some have made big changes in the lives to get fit while others are raising money and awareness for important causes and in memory of loved ones.”
One of those chosen by Crolla for her personal story was 57-year-old Marion Haines from Lancaster.
Five years ago, Haines weighed 19st and was struggling with severe back pain and daily migraines, only for her to turn her life around.
She has lost close to half of that weight and admitted her life has been completely changed as she now runs regularly and thanks both her son and Crolla – whom she saw both in the ring and at last year’s run – for the motivation to change her situation.
Crolla will join his teammates on the start line at the Great Manchester Run before they all complete the 10k route wearing branded ‘Crolla’s Army’ running shirts. They will then meet up at the finish to share experiences.
The boxer may, though, have a few more aches and pains than others in the field of up to 40,000 runners, having been in the ring for his title defence just two weeks earlier.
One of the most remarkable stories emerged from 30-year-old Adam Irvine.
Irvine was diagnosed with stage-four cancer and was told that treatment, if successful, was likely to prevent him from becoming a father.
Yet, he continued to fight the illness and is now a healthy dad, completely defying the odds, and he told Quays News he hopes he can be “an inspiration to other runners”.
Irvine continued: “It’s fantastic to be involved.
“I’ve been putting the miles in and I’m looking forward to the run now I’ve met him.
“Dealing with cancer you just don’t know what is round the corner. It was one of the biggest things I’ve ever been through in my life and it affected everyone around me.
“Luckily I’m here today and I’m thrilled to be part of the ‘Crolla Army’.”
To enter the Great Manchester Run on Sunday, May 22, go to www.greatrun.org/Manchester
By Nathan Salt