Josh Taylor v Apinun Khongsong: Rise from an Edinburgh hut to greatness

By Nick McPheatBBC Scotland
Terry McCormack and Josh Taylor
Terry McCormack says Josh Taylor (right) has provided a boxing blueprint for youngsters
Josh Taylor v Apinun Khongsong - WBA & IBF light-welterweight world titles
Venue: BT Studios, London Date: Saturday, 26 September
Coverage: Full live text commentary on the BBC Sport website and app.

"We never took anything off him. We just supported him and gave him goals. And he's still doing it."

Every day for three years, a young Josh Taylor bounded into Terry McCormack's Lochend Boxing Club in Edinburgh.

He came to the gym as a 16-year-old part-time pool attendant, but McCormack remembers a kid who had "nothing" except talent, enthusiasm and a determination to be a fighter.

Over a decade later, Taylor will defend both WBA and IBF light-welterweight world titles for the first time this Saturday against Thailand's Apinun Khongson.

Here, McCormack tells BBC Scotland about the kid Taylor was, the man he has become and the superstar he is on his way to becoming.

'He smashed every single goal'

Two years before Taylor's first day at Lochend, he sat in on one of McCormack's training sessions with former world champion Alex Arthur.

Even though in McCormack's own words "you would miss Lochend if you blinked" - an understated hut in the middle of a housing estate - Taylor must have seen enough that day to know that it was the place for him, with the Prestonpans fighter going on to become one of the many boxers to come off the club's talent conveyor belt.

"We gave him goals to achieve," says McCormack. "Box for Scotland, be the national champion, travel the world, make the 2010 Commonwealth Games in India, make the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

"He smashed every single one. His hunger and eagerness let him do that."

Lochend boxing club
The Lochend Boxing Club that helped put Taylor on his path

The eagerness that allowed him to hit those targets could also set the Scot back in his early years.

McCormack remembers the times when his development was coming on so quickly that they had to source local British champions for him to spar with.

"He was sparring with British champions at 17 years old because he was so good, and he would try and beat them up," he explained.

"He would get angry too easily if something didn't come off for him and he felt like everything had to be perfect. That was the hardest part at the beginning, controlling his drive to win and the emotion.

"He's not changed one bit. There's nothing put on, he's just natural."

Boxing blueprints & autograph hunters

These are not the words that you would particularly associate with someone who is regarded as a national sporting icon.

"He'll walk in that gym when the kids' class is on, the ladies' class or the mixed class and it's the same Josh Taylor that strolls in like he was 17," says McCormack.

"He talks the same to them all, he'll help them out if they need it and if anything needs signing he'll do it."

Josh Taylor
Taylor won Commonwealth Games gold at Glasgow 2014, adding to his silver from 2010

The grounded personality of Taylor isn't just a positive trait of the individual, but it's a glowing endorsement of the club as a whole. Taylor can prove to be an inspiration to Lochend and beyond with his personality and boxing ability.

"It just shows kids in Edinburgh and Scotland that you can achieve anything," said McCormack.

"He's showed them the blueprint. You can touch him, you can speak to him. You're not reading it in a magazine about someone from America or Russia and thinking that's because they have it better or easier than us. Josh has ripped that up and said 'go for it kids'."

'He'll be remembered forever'

Taylor's Super Series win against Regis Prograis last year elevated the Scot into the nation's sporting elite, as the 29-year-old claimed both the Muhammad Ali trophy and WBA belt while retaining his own IBF title, and McCormack feels he has got there the hard way.

"He's got to be up there with the all-time greats," he says. "The opponents he's faced up until now have been top drawer, they are all in the top 10 in the world.

"It's not like he has got a padded recorded and a promoter that is setting him up against nobodies, Josh is fighting the pound-for-pound bests in the division. Right from number one to number 10, he'll just fight the best.

"He's a real champion. He'll be remembered forever."

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