Nick Campbell: From rugby pro to Scottish heavyweight champ?

Nick Campbell has left his professional rugby career to become a boxer – and has set his sights on becoming Scotland’s first British heavyweight champion…

You have had an unconventional arrival into boxing…

I played eight years of professional rugby with Glasgow Warriors and Jersey Reds. I started rugby when I was nine. I boxed when I was younger but rugby took off.

I came to the end of a contract, had a couple of offers on the table, but decided to drop rugby and have a go at boxing. It has always been a passion.


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Did you hit the punch-bag while you were a rugby player?

I used to get fined by the physios because I’d go to a local boxing gym and hit the pads which wasn’t following our recovery protocols!

Did you get into scraps on the rugby pitch?

There are guys that are enforcers – you could say that was me! Underhanded tricks, a bit of rough and tumble…

I like the physical aspect of the game and I liked to be involved if there were any disagreements.

You had a brief but good amateur boxing career…

My goal was just to win the Scottish championship. I got onto the Scottish elite squad. I was exposed to some of the best training at amateur level. I went to Sheffield and sparred the Team GB boys.

I’ve always been in at the deep end, learning the hard way. My rugby years have taught me to cope with that.

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Has anyone been critical of your decision to switch sports?

I’ve had loads of comments saying: ‘You are crazy – what gives you the right?’

I don’t want to be a gimmick. I have always applied myself and trained hard.

I’m not here to be a spectacle. I’m here to prove a point.

I will introduce people to boxing who didn’t have an interest in that sport.

I want to challenge for things, I want to fight at the top level.

Can your experience of being an elite sportsman help your boxing?

Gerwyn Price was on loan at Glasgow when I was there, and he’s now the darts world champion!

There is so much that applies between sports – discipline, getting up early in the morning, doing your recovery, doing rehab, doing the things that aren’t fun, the things that people don’t see.

There are so many things I can take from rugby and apply it to boxing.

What can we expect from you inside the ring?

I’m 6’7” and 18 stone – if I didn’t use those physical attributes, I’d be crazy.

I want to get behind my jab, take the centre of the ring, I am very well-conditioned and take pride in how fit I am.

No disrespect to some of the heavyweights but some of them can’t condition themselves.

I like to think, if I get the opportunity, I can put people out of there. I want knockouts, to get people excited.

What are the goals for your boxing career?

There has never been a British heavyweight champion from Scotland. If you are turning professional that’s what you have to aspire to.

People laughed at [former Premier League footballer] Curtis Woodhouse but he became a British champion. Why should it be different for me?

To challenge for a British title would be an amazing achievement. The last Scotsman to do it was Gary Cornish who was beaten by Sam Sexton.

I understand the level of these fighters – Daniel Dubois and Joe Joyce competed for it last. I’m under no illusions. I’m prepared to sacrifice, dig down, work a lot to get there.

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