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Boxing: FEARLESS OR FOOLHARDY? VINCE ELLIS GETS IN RING WITH McCRACKEN...

Byline: Vince Ellis

QUESTION: How do you make yourself look a total fool in around 20 minutes?

Answer: Try to keep up with a Robert McCracken training session or go toe-to-toe with the European title for a little playful sparring.

What a painful reality. I was given an agonising lesson in what it takes to be fit enough, fast enough and skilful enough to go through the relentless pain that is professional boxing.

When the offer came in I thought 'sure'. I go to the gym regularly, my combinations looked convincing on the health club heavy bag. How stupid can one man be? When I arrived at Paddy Lynch's gym to work with McCracken, I had been spared the 10-mile run up and down the hills of Worcester followed by 12 three-minute rounds of step-ups on the side of the ring that the Brummie star completes with weights in his hands.

I decided to just sit and watch the circuit of sit-ups, press-ups, medicine ball work and other tortuous exercises.

My introduction to fighting fitness was a three-minute burst flat-out on the rowing machine which left me coughing like a 60-a-day smoker and bent double searching for breath.

I looked at the rower's electronic read-out. The distance I'd covered wouldn't have got me to the gym's showers.

'Painful, huh?' said McCracken's fitness trainer Grant Allen with a smile.

'Imagine 12 rounds of that with someone belting the hell out of you all the time.'

I left it there and headed for the gloves and a light spar with the former Commonwealth champ instead. 'Don't worry, you won't hurt me,' said McCracken. 'Yeah, right,' I thought. I was sharp, so I zipped out some jabs. The first missed, the next two landed with absolutely no impact, none, nothing, not a flinch.

Then the realisation - he's gonna hit me.

I didn't see the first jab or the right hand that followed. The hook to the stomach left me doubled up so I crawled out of the ring.

'Where ya going?' he asked.

'Hospital.'

CAPTION(S):

SECONDS OUT... Robert McCracken shapes up for action with Mercury man Vince Ellis ARMED AND DANGEROUS... McCracken shares a joke with Ellis after their sparring session
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Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Apr 8, 2001
Words:369
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