CALLUM Johnson has revealed how some wise words from boxing great Mike Tyson have helped shape his professional career.
Eighteen months ago the Boston fighter had an emotional meeting with Tyson.
And despite the monikers ‘Iron Mike’ and ‘The Baddest Man on the Planet’ – it was the sensitive side of the former undisputed world heavyweight champion that made the biggest impression.
“It wasn’t so much the advice about fighting that he gave me, but about the business,” said Johnson.
Tyson has reportedly lost millions of dollars over the years as hangers on with false promises cost him dearly.
Johnson added: “He’s been hurt and ripped off by a lot of people, so he was just telling me how to handle that side of the business.
“When he was speaking I could see him getting really emotional. It meant a lot to him, what he’s been through, and he didn’t want it to happen to others.
“He’s got some real demons and I think it helps him talking and passing on what he’s learned.”
The two met shortly after Johnson won gold at the Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games, a meeting set up after Tyson was in the area, visiting a local pigeon breeder.
And one piece of advice stuck in Johnson’s mind.
He added: “Tyson told me to just keep my team, my friends and my family around me and not let anyone else in.”
And that is something Johnson strives to achieve.
Family has always been important to the Boston light heavyweight, who prepares to meet James Tucker on Friday.
On winning his medal in India, he looked to the TV cameras and told the world ‘that was for you dad’ – acknowledging the influence his father and trainer Paul had on his career.
He also cites his upbringing as integral to helping him stay the person he was before the fame.
“My family and friends always keep me grounded,” he told The Standard. “I’m lucky because I’ve got a great team, great family and great mates.
“And my missus Gemma (Sims) ain’t bad either.”
The team he talks of are the stablemates at Manchester’s Gallagher’s Gym, who keep him occupied as he spends at least three days a week away from home in the north west.
And that’s important as Johnson has little entertainment in his Bolton flat.
He explained: “It’s just a room with a bed and a bathroom. There’s a TV, but the aerial doesn’t work.
“It can be a lonely life boxing, but its what I chose to do.
“I’m just grateful I’ve got my stablemates around. We’re in a similar situation so we help each other out.”
However, Johnson has made one set of friends near his second home.
And that’s because, although he is happy to step into a ring and go toe-to-toe with any opponent that comes his way, he still struggles domestically.
“Can’t cook, won’t cook. That’s me,” he said. “I can only do porridge out of packets.
“Because of that, I’m on first name terms with the staff at my local Harvester. I’m trying to get them to sponsor me.
“It’s just frustrating that all I can eat is chicken and potatoes.
“If I had what I wanted I’d be a heavyweight.”