Charley Davison: ‘No matter what, we’re always ready’

Charley Davison on home-schooling and preparing for the Olympic Games, while Matthew McHale speaks to John Dennen about boxing for Scotland in Ukraine

IF you thought training for the Olympic Games was hard, try home-schooling three children. Charley Davison has had to juggle that over these lockdowns as well as preparing to represent GB at 51kgs in the European Olympic qualifier.

“So much harder! I’ve got three children so it’s different age levels. Trying to teach them how a teacher would and I didn’t want them to pick up bad habits, just trying to keep up with all the work,” Charley said. “It’s really stressful. Then if one child needs help, you help them, then the other one wants help. It’s continuous.”

Her boxing rapidly became a form of stress relief. “I was training in the back garden after the home schooling so it was all fun and games. It was an experience,” she said. “It was different but we got through it and we’re back here [in Sheffield now].”

As well as training at the EIS, the GB squad have just come back from a camp in Belfast, sparring with Ireland, France and Italy. Next they’ll go to Serbia to compete in the Belgrade Winners tournament on April 22. “It’ll be nice to get out there and get back into the flow of things,” Davison said. “My first bout I boxed for GB was at the Europeans and obviously I’ll be going again in June. I’ll be nervous [in Belgrade] because I want to go out there and win and perform before the Europeans, but not as much pressure as I had at the Europeans. It was such a big event but I didn’t have time to think about it I just had to go in there.”

Davison is keeping her focus on that qualifier. “Every time something comes up in the news about the Olympics you think, ‘What is it now? It’s not going to be cancelled again is it?’ That’s always going to be in the back of our heads because it’s happened once,” she explained. “It is hard mentally trying to keep positive thinking that it’s going to go ahead. That’s the good thing that we’ve got these tournaments ahead of us to keep us busy, keep us training.

“We’re always ready, no matter what.”

Scotland have been competing in Ukraine. John Dennen speaks to featherweight Matthew McHale

DESPITE the difficulties of travel and securing competition, the UK’s elite squads have been getting international experience where they can.

Scotland have completed a camp in Ukraine that finished with an 11-bout team match, that the Scots won 6-5. “That’s exactly what you want when you’ve been out for so long. So it was good to get that fight under the belt,” Matthew McHale, the Scottish 57kgs, said. “It was a proper bout. It was in their gym, no spectators or anything but it was in their gym with a proper referee, judges. We had a decision at the end of it as well. It was great. It was good to wipe away that ringrust and get back to doing what we love.”

“I had to use my boxing brain, straight shots, keep the range with him. Being out that long, I done pretty well. I’m really happy with my performance in fact,” he continued. “He [Eduard Trofimenko] was a great wee guy, head movement was good.

“I got the decision. I won it pretty comfortably as well.”

The main thing though was getting a bout after so long without a contest. “I think it’s been about 16 months now,” McHale said. “Getting in that zone again, the fight zone instead of training obviously. It was good to get back in that ring again and do the business.

“In sparring you’re learning, you’re doing everything like that. Everything you’ve done in sparring you have to put into a fight, make sure everything’s punch perfect.

“So what a feeling it was getting back in there.”

They had done a hard camp in Ukraine in the immediate run up to the team match. “I’m sure we’d done 30 odd rounds by the time we were in there So it was a lot of rounds, hard, but this is what we go there for,” McHale said. “We’re doing their programme, so they’re talking in Ukrainian, the Scotland coach Craig McEvoy he can speak Russian, they speak a bit of Russian as well, so he was translating as well.

“You are out of your comfort zone. It’s like a fight. You’re out of your comfort zone when you go abroad to fight as well. To be honest all of the lads would say it was a great trip, a great success. We beat them 6-5 over there. So it was a good result.”

“Especially in their own gym as well,” he added. “You have to zone out all that. Who cares? If you get beat, you get beat. What the Scotland coaches were looking for was the performance.”

Next Scotland should be competing in the Belgrade Winners tournament. “People getting ready for the Olympics coming up, it’s going to be a strong tournament, strong squads are going to go. This is why you want to box. You want to box the best to prove you’re the best,” Matthew said. “It’s a top tournament, that’s what we need. It’s all leading up to the Commonwealth Games [for him]. This is what this is in preparation for.
“The Scotland set up, the programme, is really good right now. Honestly they are on the ball, they’re pushing for everything, for us to get away, they’ve done so much for us.”

McHale is also a product of Lochend, the successful club that saw the now unified world champion Josh Taylor come through. Taylor and trainer Terry McCormack at Lochend have been inspirations for McHale. But times still are hard as clubs in Scotland for non-elite sport have not be able to reopen yet. The expectation is for indoor training to be allowed to return on April 26. “It’s hard for younger ones at the minute that are not on that Scotland team to keep motivated. But this is what makes them at the minute,” Matthew said. “It’s a shame obviously but it’s not going to last forever.”