TWELVE lucky runners found themselves top of the bill at an exclusive training session with top Manchester boxer Anthony Crolla weeks before he makes the first defence of his world title.
Members of Crolla’s Army were put through their paces by the fighter during a friendly sparring session in the countdown to their own big sporting challenge when they line up in the Great Manchester Run on Sunday, May 22.
Anthony took time out from the build up to his WBA lightweight world title bout against Ismael Barroso, from Venezuela, at the Manchester Arena on Saturday, May 7, to give a personal pep talk to his new teammates.
Anthony has hand-picked 12 runners – one for each round of a professional boxing bout and all of whom have personal reasons for taking part in the 10k run.
At the training camp at the Helly Hansen Watersports Centre, Salford Quays, he gave Crolla’s Army support and encouragement for their training and a personal insight into what it takes to become a world champion.
Anthony will join his teammates on the start line in 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 40,000 runners, having been in the ring for his big fight only two weeks earlier.
Anthony said: “The Great Manchester Run is one of the greatest sporting events in the city. Just taking part as one of the 40,000 runners and being cheered through the city centre by thousands of supporters is incredible, but to have my own team is amazing.
“I’ve picked 12 runners with a strong personal reason for being part of Crolla’s Army who are committed to making this year’s Great Manchester Run their greatest ever run.
“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.
“I’m now stepping up my preparations to defend my world title so am giving ‘Crolla’s Army’ a flavour of the kind of training I’m doing. They look focused to take on the challenge and I hope to be celebrating a successful defence of my world title when I join them on the start line on Sunday, May 22.”