Niall Farrell says he is expecting “the whole of Kingstanding” to come and watch him fight in his home Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
The 24-year-old featherweight is from the ward to the north of the city and is part of a 14-strong England squad for this month’s Games.
“When we first got the call but couldn’t announce it, we were dying to tell people,” Farrell said.
He told BBC Radio WM: “For me to be boxing in England is massive.”
A former British Amateur Boxing Association champion, Farrell won silver at the European Championships in 2017 before battling back from a career-threatening hand injury to return to the international stage at the World Championships in Belgrade last year.
“To box in my hometown – I don’t think I’ll have another feeling like when I got the phone call to say I’ve been selected to box in Birmingham,” he said.
“All my family and friends can come and watch me it’s going to be exciting. We live in a close-knit community. I’m very lucky I’ve got great support. Our area comes together so I’m expecting the whole of Kingstanding to be watching me box.
“I’ve been telling them for years ‘I’ll be boxing in England soon and then I’m off to Armenia and Germany and Kazakhstan’, but now I’m saying ‘I’m just down the road pop down and see I’.
“I’m excited and I’ve got to rail it in. I’ve still got a lot of hard training to do. But when that time comes and the time they announce my name will be a moment I’ll never forget. “
Farrell will be ‘flying’ for Games
Farrell says having to pause his career because of injury for three years was “heartbreaking”, but after two operations he now has the chance to remind the world of his talent.
“There were times when I thought ‘am I going to be in the sport with my hand injuries?’ I couldn’t wait to box again. I love boxing. I love fighting and I love Birmingham. So bringing all that together – it’s a recipe for great things to come.
“When I’m in the ring – that’s the bit I love the most. The training’s tough. Making the weight’s not nice. The injuries are the worst. The actual fighting is the easiest part – that’s when I can enjoy myself.
“It feels like I’m just getting better and better and by the time the Commonwealths come I’ll be flying – this feels like the start for me to push my name out there.”
‘It’s about staying two steps in front’
It is not just the pursuit of a gold medal in Birmingham that fires Farrell’s motivation. He is an ambassador of a homeless charity and chairman of another – Support Futures – that helps rehabilitate and educate young people in West Midlands through sport, and is determined to further promote the power of sport when he gets his chance in the ring.
“Boxing makes you into a person. It molds you. I see people come into the gym at home and they’ve changed their lives through boxing and that’s what I’m trying to push. There’s so much more to it that training and fighting ,” he said.
“It’s a chess match. It’s not how hard or how many times I can punch you – it’s about how many times I can hit and not get hit. People don’t see that side and I’m hoping with the Commonwealths in England people can actually see there’s a lot more to it.
“Don’t get me wrong – I love a fight where it’s one-two, I’m getting hit but I’m landing – it’s exciting.
“I get a buzz off that but there’s so much more going on in your head – he thinks he’s one step in front, I’m trying to be two steps in front of that but most people think it’s easy – I’m hoping people see it in a different light.
“I’ve always wanted to get involved with charities and I’ve been fortunate to meet some great people. I always put my input in when I can. Boxing is very time consuming and I do miss a lot of events but I see everything that’s going on. I’m not just a fighter there’s so much more to me than that.”
Boxing takes place at the LG Arena between 29 July – 8 August.