On the 22nd September 2006 I retired having reigned as WBO Cruiserweight champion for 7 years. I wasn’t defeated by an opponent to make me retire, that was never going to happen. What defeated me was my body. In the last round of my last sparring session before my final defence of my title I snapped the patella tendon in my left knee. And that led to my retirement. A shame to end such a formidable career but that’s how it was written I suppose. I remained fit throughout my retirement but in 2013 I was filming some training techniques with Tony Bellew and snapped the patella tendon in other leg, my right. By 2014 I’d had a hip replacement and that seemed like it for the lower half of my body.
After those those injuries a few things started to happen. I lost strength everywhere because your legs affect your whole body. My core weakened, my legs lost muscle mass. I lost my mobility and flexibility. If you know the distinction between the two you’ll know that mobility means I wasn’t moving to the full scope of joint ability and the flexibility means my muscles and tendons had shortened. My posture was effected also. This lack of training and mobility had led to my shoulders rolling forward making me look like a caveman. This accumulated in to a loss of confidence. Training wise that is. I was scared of repeating these injuries, and of new injuries that I could inflict through improper movement and age. So I put it right…
A friend put me in touch with this up and coming fitness studio in West London a year ago call Equilibrium - Total Balance. These guys are a different breed. They listen, they look, and they understand a persons body and mind. They didn’t see Johnny Nelson boxer. They saw a strong, tall guy who was moving so badly in his training that it was unbelievable. Jay, one of the directors, took me on and stripped me right back to basics. Taught me how to mobilise, how to move correctly in functional patterns, how to control my core to increase power, strength and balance. And I can’t stress enough, my life changed.
I trained with them in techniques like Olympic Lifting, TRX, Kettlebells, Skierg, SkillMill and the nightmare that is the Vertimax. But it works. At first you’re broken. Asking why can’t I do this? Why is it so hard? Suddenly the next month you walk in after 4 weeks of pain and you get it. It clicks. You pull off a power clean correctly and a little wry smile spreads across Jay’s face. Mission underway. 12 months down the line I never question what he makes he do. I obey. I know deep down I can trust these guys. And I’ve been proven right.
Over the last year I have become what the lads at Equilibrium like to call, a terminator. They make machines. I’m not perfect by any stretch but I feel it. I feel it in my bones, my muscles, my confidence. They’ve rebuilt me, they’ve resurrected the champ.