Callum Johnson has retired from the sport of boxing at 37-years-old, citing struggles with mental wellbeing and discipline as deciding factors.
The fighter from Lincolnshire won Gold for Scotland at the Commonwealth Games before turning professional in the light heavyweight division and winning the Commonwealth and British titles, as well as challenging for the IBF World title.
It was his only loss in a 21 fight career, and, until recently, he was tipped to work his way back up to that level and perhaps mount a challenge once more.
In an emotional statement posted on his social media channels, the fan-favourite announced his decision.
“I don’t think retiring is the right word so I’ll say quitting. But the boxing days are over, not by choice really or on my own terms, but more by lack of self discipline and struggling to battle and deal with my own mental struggles & demons. I tried and I tried again but kept failing.
I’ve let a lot of people down, especially this year and I’m truly sorry and I never meant for it to end this way and honestly never saw it ending this way.”
Johnson went on to say that even until a few days before the statement he believed he would box again, but went on to call the intentions ‘too little too late’, and spoke of letting the people around him down.
“I’m fully to blame for my failures and accept it and now got to start learning to live life with out boxing and learn to forgive my self for letting everyone down around me. Especially my manager & trainer Joe Gallagher, my Kids [and] Gemma and my Dad. And the biggest one letting my self down … [My dad said] to me once or twice “the only person that would ever beat me and stop me would be my self” He was right.”
‘The One’ thanked many people in his statement, including all of his fans and his promoter, Frank Warren. He said that he was aware some would congratulate him on what he has achieved in the sport, although ended that thought in a downcast manner.
“Truth is [though] I will always remember my career for what I didn’t win and what I didn’t do.”
What Johnson’s statement didn’t recognise is the high levels of entertainment he delivered to fans of the sport with his all-action style and punching power, as well as openness in interviews and willingness to step in the ring with whoever wanted it.
But, add to that the injuries, inconsistent activity, and crushing blow of personal demons, and you have a fighter who clearly feels he can’t continue in the sport. It’s safe to say that the fans will miss him dearly whilst wishing only the best.