This week on Small Talk, we sat down with British Boxer Luke Campbell, to chat about dedication and devotion to craft, enjoying the little things, and running our own races.
Luke Campbell's professional boxing career began in 2013 when he competed in Craven Park against Andy Harris. After winning the fight, his undefeated streak began, but boxing for Luke began long before this.
“I was thirteen when I started. Which, in the boxing world, can be considered quite late to start.”
With no external influences encouraging him to pick up a pair of gloves, Luke followed his sixth sense and intuition into the ring.
“It’s funny because usually when you go into boxing, you’ll have one of your parents doing it or your brother or your cousin, someone that you know well. But literally, I didn’t even know any boxer. I just went into boxing because I thought I might win some trophies, and I figured it would be a cool thing to do.”
Dedication and Discipline
“Talent is nothing without discipline and dedication, and discipline and dedication are talents in themselves.”
The world tends to see our highlight reel yet often fails to acknowledge the sacrifice that goes into our craft.
In winning gold in the 2012 Olympics and being ranked as of March 2021, the fifth-best Active Lightweight in the world, Luke needed to choose wisely where his focus and attention would be placed.
“For me, I believe that it was my dedication and discipline that got me there. Some people can be more naturally talented, but I needed to work on my craft and technique every day. But it was only through the dedication and the discipline that I believe got me to where I’ve been in the sport.”
As mentioned in our chat with Swish Goswami, the many temptations that we face as young adults can be difficult to turn from. But when we commit and dedicate ourselves to all that we can become, missing out on social events is minor in the grand scheme.
“That consisted of when my friends were going out one night; I’d go home early. Early nights, clean food, and denying a lot of the enjoyment of growing up. I put myself in the gym, blood, sweat, and tears, and that about sums it up.”
All The Glory
Boxing can be a brutal sport, with black eyes and bloody noses. Yet, there is also a grace and technique that is beautifully crafted in the ring. In such a fierce sport, what is it that keeps the boxer coming back for more, no matter the risk?
“I was thinking about it the other day, and in other sports, you have teams. So, when you win, you win as a team; you share the glory with ten other people. And when you lose, you could easily blame somebody else. But the thing about boxing is that it’s literally just you; it’s all on you. When you win, you take all the glory, and that’s what I loved about it.”
Standing in the ring after a fight, and being victorious, is an emotional moment for any fighter. Knowing that each moment of discipline and dedication that went into training before the fight paid off is rewarding and gratifying beyond compare. But when the tables are turned, the highest highs can plummet to the lowest lows.
“As good as boxing can be when you’re winning, it can also be the worst sport in the world when you’re losing because it’s all on you, whether you win or lose. For me, I just wanted to be better every day, and that was my drive. I guess that’s what’s driven me as a boxer for the past twenty years; just to be the best that I can be and be better than I was yesterday.”
Boxing is an adrenaline-driven sport, one that can be both straining and exhausting on the athlete.
“We are human beings; we have to mentally switch off now and then to refresh our bodies and minds.”
We all need days off, moments in which we can disconnect and get grounded. For some, this may look like a walk in nature, yoga, or spending time with loved ones.
For Luke, switching off is vital to switch back on in time for a big fight.
“Usually after a big fight, I like to go away on holiday to relax, rest my body, get some good quality sunshine, eat some good food, and literally do as least as possible and eat as much as possible.”
Taking time to completely switch off and give ourselves the self-love and self-care that our minds and bodies need to recover should never be overlooked.
“I go from starving myself to make the weight division to enjoying everything I had to deny. All the way through training camp, you’re eating clean and eating healthy, so all the little treats that you like, you can’t really have. So once the fights over, I indulge for a couple of weeks. Literally, I stop when I start to feel sick.”
There needs to be balance in our lives, especially when we have career paths that require ample amounts of dedication and discipline. When we work hard, winding ourselves up, taking time off to unwind guarantees us renewed strength when we return to our crafts.
Luke Campbell inspires countless with his talent, both in and out of the ring. Not only are his victories inspirational, but his work ethic and commitment are worth commending. We wanted to know who or what has been this boxers’ biggest inspiration.
“I would have to say that my inspiration started from my mum. I used to see my mum go out to work and provide for the full family, putting food on the table and giving us our lunch money for school. My dad wasn’t really well at the time, so my mum was left to be the provider. So, I guess I’ve always seen my mum as the hero and the person who inspired me to work hard. I get my work ethic from her, seeing her do all that she did.”
Inspiration can come in many forms, near and far. Whether from a mentor, an icon we admire, or someone we live in close quarters with, growing up in exposure to admirable traits is how our childhood heroes are born.
“She ever had any complaints and would continue to get on with it day by day.”
Strength in Stumbling
In times such as these, many people may feel as if they’re stumbling through these next steps in their lives. With chaos and turmoil happening on a global scale, stories of hope and strength are what bring lightness to even the darkest of times.
“During my career, there was a point, two years before the Olympic games, where I was going to quit boxing altogether. I was going through a really rough patch, I had an injury at the time, and I was just really struggling. I was homesick a lot as well and just not enjoying it.”
Even at our lowest points, we have so much to be grateful for. When we are stripped of the applause and luxuries that success brings and are left alone with ourselves, a sense of inner peace and knowing that everything will be okay takes over.
“And it wasn’t until I hit rock bottom when I realized there was really nothing to be afraid of. I thought, ‘I’m at rock bottom, I’ve got my health, my family's health, I’ve got good friends; what then, is there to be so scared of. What is there to fear?' And I guess I had to hit rock bottom then to hit the top.”
These past few months have given us many challenges but have also given us the space to come together stronger than before. Everyone has been affected, but that also means that everyone has the opportunity to grow.
“It’s been a very challenging time for us all, this last year certainly. With COVID and lockdown and it’s been really difficult. Last year, I didn’t get to fight at all, and I missed out on two major fights. I trained the full year and didn’t compete once. It’s just one of those things where I really felt stuck in the mud and couldn’t get out.”
We all feel stuck in the mud from time to time, but as mentioned in our interview with Roger Gabriel, ‘it is important to see the job, do the job, but stay out of the mud.’
“You just keep your head down, keep grinding. As time goes on, things change, and we adapt. It’s like one of those sayings where, ‘if you knew back then what you do now, things would be different,’ and we’re never going to get away from that.”
“In the times that we’re in today, with social media and things like that, I would say that the best advice is to stop worrying what other people are doing and just concentrate on what you’re doing. Stop thinking about what everyone else is doing.”
With social media demand and expectations at an all-time high, we are constantly looking and comparing ourselves to others. Who they are, what they have, and what they don’t have can fill our minds with insecurities and judgments.
“You’re only in a race with yourself anyhow. You’re not in a race with anybody else because everybody’s on their own path.”
Once we learn to let go of the need to compare and begin to focus wholly and completely on ourselves, we will find our freedom.
No Longer Pursue
I don’t need anyone to like what I’m doing or give me their opinions. Like I said earlier, I’m on my own path, running my own race, and it’s not against anyone else. I’m content enough with myself.”
We asked Luke Campbell what he believes 100% to be true, his answer…
“Life. I believe that life is truth, in and of itself. We each are given one life, and what we make of it becomes our truth.”
At TrooMe, we believe that hard work, dedication, and devotion pay off and that the difficulties we face are opportunities in disguise.
May we follow in Luke Campbell’s footsteps, running our own races, knowing that everyone has a different path in this life, and believing that our lives are our own to shape and create how we choose.