Home Interviews EXCLUSIVE: Ricky Burns The Perfect Role Model

EXCLUSIVE: Ricky Burns The Perfect Role Model

Ricky Burns reflects on his career, pinpoints his two best nights and his journey into boxing to becoming a three-weight World champion.

Ricky Burns celebrating a win with Tony and Peter Sims. Photo Credit: Glasgow Live
Ricky Burns celebrating a win with Tony and Peter Sims. Photo Credit: Glasgow Live

“I’m not going to kid myself or anybody else. I know I’ve only got one or two more nights in me left. We just have to wait and see but I would definitely love one last, big night in Glasgow. All the fans up here have shown support, some of the nights we’ve had it’s been great.

“Usually on fight nights you don’t pay attention to what’s going on but when I come home and watch it on the telly the cameras are in the crowd and when you know most of the people in the crowd. The fans make the night just as much as the fights do so I would love to have one big night up here.”

Ricky Burns has been a perfect example of a stalwart to boxing. Approaching the twilight of his illustrious career the 37-year-old is hoping for one more big night to repay his loyal fans.

The Scotsman is a three-weight World champion and one of the finest fighters to have laced up a pair of gloves from the United Kingdom. However, the champ blushes at his accolades.

“Even now when people are talking about [me] being a three-weight World champion I get embarrassed. I try to always play it down, I say to people when I stop boxing maybe I’ll look back at everything I’ve done. But, my attitude towards a fight has not changed one bit.

“My attitude [as an amateur] was that I’d have fought anyone and I’ve taken that attitude in the pro game. I’m never one for calling anybody out, nothing like that. Whenever my management team says, ‘what about this? What about that?’ I’m like, ‘I don’t care, just pick a name and tell me the date and I’ll be down.’

“Some people will say, ‘Ricky has overachieved in his career.’ I might have overachieved, right, but I worked so hard to get there and that’s what I always say to people. Don’t listen if people are being negative after fights I always say let them carry on. If you work hard, you dedicate yourself and who knows where you could go.”

It shouldn’t be confused as Burns is certainly proud of his achievements in boxing; it’s as simple as Ricky is not a pretentious man. The Lightweight confessed to keeping his championship belts locked away in cupboards.

“If people were to walk into my house you would never ever think that I was a boxer because there’s nothing boxing-related lying about. All the titles that I’ve won, the belts, they’re all in the cupboard. If it was getting to fight week I was having to get them out of the cupboard and get them cleaned and dusted up.”

Burns after defeating Kiryl Relikh in a WBA World title bout. Photo Credit: RTE
Burns after defeating Kiryl Relikh in a WBA World title bout. Photo Credit: RTE

As aforementioned Burns is a three-weight World champion, his stock has never dropped even after a loss and he has fought some of the worlds best. But, he is also a man who is genuinely one of the nicest men in the sport.

‘Rickster’ has never forgotten his roots. After each bout, you will find Ricky back in his old amateur boxing gym sparring with the next generation handing out tips to the wannabe Ricky Burns’.

His old amateur gym, still to this day, holds a very special place in his heart after first walking into the gym with his friends aged 12. It was a place that built the work ethic, moulded the heart and created Ricky Burns the boxer.

“One day the boxing club opened up, maybe, 100 yards from where we used to stay. The first day my two brothers went down, they came back home and were telling us about it. The next day me and all my pals went down, there was a squad of us that went. Ever since then that was me hooked.

“It was about 100 amateur fights I had. When I was younger my attitude changed I was always at Rab [Bannan] to take me to shows, even if I wasn’t fighting, I’d always take my stuff. You know, nine times out of ten I’d always end up getting a fight. Whether it was someone had missed weight or didn’t turn up I’d always be there to step in.

“I’d say I won five Western districts [trophies], five Scottish titles, all the junior ones. We went to the Gaelic Games a couple of times, I won Gold at them. When I had my first year as a senior I lost my Scottish title, at that point, the same as every kid, they get to that age, 17, 18 and they want to get with their pals. I wasn’t really taking it as seriously as much and Rab [Bannan] said to me, ‘do you want to turn professional?’ He had just got his professional coach licence and it went on from there.”

A young Ricky Burns early on in his professional career. Photo Credit: MN2S
A young Ricky Burns early on in his professional career. Photo Credit: MN2S

No one could’ve predicted that Ricky would go on to fight some of the best his weight classes had to offer including Kevin Mitchell, Ray Beltran and Terence Crawford. But before he got to that calibre he first had to have his very own acid test.

Fellow Scot, Alex Arthur was the step up for Burns as he would challenge for the British, Commonwealth and European titles in just his first 12-round fight.

“I would say in my head when we agreed that fight I did think that I could beat him. We had sparred and I thought I could beat him. In the fight, I was holding my own but I do think it was experience that beat me that night and I said that after the fight.

“Although I lost it was still a good night. I think I proved to myself that’s the level that I wanted to be aiming for. The support I had for that night was unbelievable, I think we sold 1000 tickets that night. I can always remember when I walked out to the ring one big section was all my support. The noise they made, it was unbelievable.”

Burns would challenge once more for the British title but with no success after a predicted food poisoning hindered fight day when challenging big punching, Carl Johansson.

“At the time I fought him he was knocking everybody out. We were really confident going into that fight.

“I had eaten something after the weigh-in which, obviously, didn’t agree with me. I was in a bad way with an upset stomach. I can remember being in the venue for the fight and we had the representatives of UKAD, the anti-doping [company], and they have to follow you about wherever you go. I remember him saying to me, ‘should you be fighting?’ I was in and out of the toilet constantly.

“Obviously on the day of the fight I had good support coming down to Leeds and we didn’t want to let any of them down so we got in there and got on with it.”

After having competed in 52 professional bouts and an estimated 100 bouts in the unpaid code Ricky has had his fair share of special nights. However, there are two which stick out for him.

“When I beat Roman Martinez, that was a Super-Featherweight World title [fight]. Nobody expected me to go out there and win. Everybody kept saying, ‘he’s going to go out there and get knocked out.’ When I went out there in the first round and I got put down I can remember it was more of a flash knockdown but when I’m looking around ringside everybody’s got their head in their hands. I got up and went on to get the win, that’s when my career kicked off.

“Another big night for me was always the Kevin Mitchell fight. There was talk of us fighting at Super-Featherweight for the British. There was always talk about us fighting and we knew it would happen. People were saying, ‘Kevin will knock Ricky out!’

“I always remember the training camp for that fight. I had it in my head that I would walk him down for 12 rounds, that was the way we trained for that fight, in my head there was no chance I’m losing that fight. We got there and got the win. That for me was another great night, it was packed out SEC [Scottish Exhibition Centre] in Glasgow.”

A list of accolades as long as his arm and memories that will live on for a lifetime. Ricky Burns will live on in boxing history when he does eventually decide to hang up his gloves.

From a child who never watched boxing to a three-weight World champion, we owe it all to Sylvester Stallone…

Rocky IV had a young Ricky Burns glued to the television. Photo Credit: Flavorwire
Rocky IV had a young Ricky Burns glued to the television. Photo Credit: Flavorwire

“Rocky IV was never off the telly! I think me and my brothers wore out so many Rocky VHS’s my mum was always having to get new ones.

“I don’t really watch boxing, don’t get me wrong if it’s a big fight or if one of the guys I train alongside fights I’ll watch them. But I’m not one for sitting down watching all the fights as other fighters do. I’d say when I was growing up it was definitely Rocky IV that got me into it [not professional boxing].”