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Scotland’s Commonwealth boxing captain Callum Johnson hopes to celebrate medal glory... with yet another tattoo

THE jabs inflicted on Callum Johnson in the tattoo parlour are far more painful than those he suffers in the ring, but if Scotland’s boxing team captain wins in Delhi, he will embrace more punishment with enthusiasm.

His lower right leg is elaborately tattooed. It includes the name of his son, Corbon. He is looking forward to more artistry on his body if he wins a medal in the light-heavyweight division of the Commonwealth Games tournament.

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“It started with the back – a face, and then my son was born,” he says, “so I put his name down the front, and I kept it in the same style. I’d some on the back and some on the front, so I thought I’d better get it all joined up. It’s still not finished yet. That’s more pain than what boxing is!

“I was thinking, if I won a medal, I’d like the Delhi sign, with the date and everything. But I’d have it somewhere nobody could see it, just a personal thing.”

Before Lottery funding, it was the ambition of most Games medallists to make a sharp exit to the pro ranks – Kenny Anderson, Alex Arthur, Joe Kelly, and Tom Imrie to name a few. But no longer. Johnson is keen to remain amateur, at least for now.

“I’d like to see myself as a professional, but after London,” he says.

“I’d like to go to the Olympics, and look at going professional after that. Obviously there is funding available and it keeps you comfortable but it’s not about the money for me. It’s about achieving my goals and winning medals for my country, and for Great Britain in the Olympics. That’s what it’s about.

“If London was four years away, maybe I wouldn’t be thinking like that, but it’s just round the corner.”

He has a few sponsors but the 25-year-old lives at home with his parents at Benington, Lincolnshire, “totally concentrating on boxing, to try and be the best I can be.”

He has wanted to box for gold since he was 12. He flirted with an electrician apprenticeship, “but it didn’t work out.” Instead, he became a market trader in Skegness. I was working with my dad in sales, in the markets and things like that – just getting by, really – market stalls, selling clothes.”

But he reckons he’s lost the knack. “I was a good salesman, but I think I’ve lost it now. I haven’t done it for a while.

“It’s a seasonal holiday place – seven days a week. It’s quite a busy place down there, through the summer. Nothing in the winter. You just pretty well chill out.”

There is not much chill in Delhi. “We are getting weighed three or four times a day,” he says, “so we always know whereabouts we are and what we’ve got to do.”

The accent is broad Lincolnshire, but he has boxed for Scotland for six years, “from my grandparents on my mother’s side. My nan was from Springburn in Glasgow.”

He declines to pick medal contenders or put pressure on his mates. “All of them are equally as good and have all trained equally hard. I honestly believe every one of them, with the right draw – and a little bit of luck, like we all need to perform well – I honestly believe all of them are capable of getting medals.”

But he is personally bullish, a captain ready to lead by example. He has recovered well from a tendon injury that put him out for months last year, and has won several international tournaments, including an impressive win in the Czech Grand Prix where eight of the 10 titles went to Russians.

He knows a fair bit about his main rivals here. “The competition’s stiff, but I’m confident I can get a medal.

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