George Hillyard – Rising From the Ashes

So the dream was back on, albeit probably seeming like a million miles away at the time. George looked me square in the eye, he needed me to know he meant this. ‘I wanted to show my kids that you need to graft in life to get what you want. It’s not about being a talker, it’s about putting the hours in and giving it your best shot. Being responsible for yourself. But I’m not silly, it was a long way off. My wife to be, Michelle (not the barmaid), supported me when others were doubting me. She took some slack but she had my back 100% and told me to go for it. That’s loyalty’.

Hard work, as usual, got him from there to here. Weight lost, training hard, a good team around him and with a focus that is clear as day, George seems like a man on a mission. It’s not often you get a second chance at a sport as demanding and gruelling as boxing. But George has carved that out for himself and is now in a position to look forward with optimism about what he can still achieve, rather than looking backwards with regrets.

The next step in that journey is this Sunday evening at the 02, where George features in his second Bare Knuckle Boxing fight, this time against Jack Mclean. The initial reaction to hearing Bare Knuckle might conjure up images of blood thirsty fans in a warehouse somewhere watching barbaric fights with little rules and regulations until last man standing. But it’s clear BKB is anything but. “Fight wise it’s actually safer than boxing in my opinion, cos you’re not sustaining a constant barrage of blows to the head like you would in a gloved fight. The brain is not taking as much punishment over time. Fights are over a bit quicker and are stopped when a fighter looks hurt. You can’t continue taking blows to the head in bare knuckle and stay standing’.

And the production of BKB has also impressed George. He has fought traditional Boxing bouts on Sky and ITV and says BKB is just as good. ‘They put on a proper show, very well organised, and they really look after the fighters. It’s a sport and a culture that is growing and I’m loving being a part of it.’

At 38 years old, George would be in the late autumn of a ‘normal’ boxing career, and is under no illusions that time is of the essence. So what exactly is he hoping to achieve. ‘I just want to give it my all and see where it takes me. I’ll work hard and take on the fights and train and give my best. I still feel like I’ve got something to give you know? I’ve not been in many wars, and I’m still sharp in body and between the ears’.