CHRISTMAS was a lot quieter this time around for Josh Campbell. The 23 year-old had spent the previous festive season touring Afghanistan as part of the Royal Regiment of Scotland 2 Scots battalion, his downtime spent daydreaming about his long-term goal of becoming a professional boxer.

It was a tough existence but one made easier by the camaraderie of his colleagues and the tantalising possibility of one day fulfilling his ambition of leaving that life behind to dedicate himself to his chosen sport.  

“I’ve been in the army since I was 16 and served in places like Iraq and Afghanistan,” he revealed. “I was in Afghanistan last Christmas and New Year so this one was a bit quieter!

“We were part of what was called the Guardian Angels where we taught lessons to local kids and went to their officers’ academy to teach them our skills and drills.

“There was obviously a lot going on with the Taliban at that time so we were giving their officers training to better their knowledge of the way we fight and we would do patrols around the city just to show our presence.

“I left Afghanistan in April and obviously it all kicked off there after that. It seems quite a scary job on the outside looking-in but that’s why you go through years of training so you’re able to deal with a real-time situation. So it was just our job and you did it the best you could.

“In Iraq we were based just north of Baghdad, working with the Spanish Army and French foreign legion as a platoon which was good.

“I’ll be out of the army in March and saying goodbye to that chapter and fully focusing on boxing from there on in.

“The thing I’ll miss most is the boys you work alongside as it’s all I’ve known for seven years and you learn to trust them with your life.

“Given everything I’ve been through with the army, the thought of getting punched in the face for a career doesn’t actually seem that bad!”

When he wasn’t on patrol, training officers or teaching local children, Campbell would take the chance to train whenever and wherever he could.

“It was hard as most of the time you were in uniform and had to carry your pistol because of the threat,” he adds. “But at night you’d get a bit of downtime. There was one punchbag set up so I’d go down there, especially after I decided I was going to go professional. I was doing runs around camp and did work on the pads most nights – as much as the job would allow anyway.”

The St Andrew’s Sporting Club super-welterweight turned over in the second half of 2021 and made his professional debut in November, a four-round win over Kevin McCauley at the Normandy Hotel in Renfrew.

All being well the Cardonald man will be back out on the Burns Night card at the Radisson Blu in Glasgow on February 10.

“Making my pro debut was everything I’d hoped it would be and more,” he added. “The venue is not too far from where I grew up so I had about 80 or so of my family and friends there so the atmosphere was amazing.

“Even the fight itself was a good learning experience. It’s a moment I had thought about for a long time. It had been in my head to turn professional for about three or four years so to finally do it was such a big moment.

“In the amateurs it’s all fast-paced and trying to get as many points as quickly as you can. In the professional ranks it suits my style a lot better. I can take my time, pick my shots and box the way I want to box.”

Campbell was still in school when he first pulled on the gloves and has been hooked on the sport ever since.

“I started boxing when I was 11 or 12 at the Noble Art club in Nitshill and had only been learning for four or five weeks when I had my first fight,” he recalled.

“I played football as well at that time but after that fight I knew there was only one thing I wanted to do. I just focused on boxing and was fighting week in, week out.

“When I was 15 I moved to train with Joe Ham and I’ve been with him ever since. He’s got a great stable of fighters so every day it’s the best of training and the best of sparring.

“They’re all experienced professionals who have been on this journey a lot longer than I have so it’s great to be able to learn from them.

“All being well I’ll be back out on February 10 and I’ll be looking to make it 2-0 on my professional record.”