WHEN Dean Reilly was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, he knew the biggest fight of his life lay ahead of him.
But going toe to toe with a bare-knuckle boxing champion known as the King of the Gypsies was not the type of battle that first came to mind.
However, Dean, who has taken on a series of incredible challenges since receiving the devastating diagnosis last year, is set to do just that in a charity boxing match next month against the notorious James Quinn McDonagh.
The 32-year-old, from Musselburgh, has embarked on an extensive training regime under the tutelage of childhood friend and Commonwealth gold medallist Kenny Anderson.
Dean said: “I’ve never had a fight before, but I’ve been training every day.
“I’m taking it very seriously, I don’t want to get punched up and down the place. It’s not going to be a tickling contest. I don’t want him going easy on me because it’s for charity.”
Since being told he had MS a little over a year ago, Dean has got into shape, completing the Great Edinburgh Run and the Edinburgh Triathlon. He is also set to run the Edinburgh Marathon next weekend.
He is raising money for the MS Therapy Centre in Leith, and hopes to make at least £2000 from his fight alone. He says his doctors have given him the all-clear to take part in the event.
Dean is to face off against McDonagh, who starred in TV documentary Knuckle, at a semi-professional boxing event at Woodburn Miners Club, Dalkeith, on June 14. The bill includes a Scottish title fight.
Anderson, 30, who grew up streets away from Dean in Portobello, said: “Dean is tremendously motivated. It’s a serious fight, we’re not messing about. It’s a dangerous environment with a dangerous opponent.”
The 30-year-old fighter, who until recently was British super-middleweight champion, added: “Maybe he hasn’t got the best chance but he’s overcome a lot of things put in front of him. I’d like to think I’d handle adversity in life like he has.”