Lochend’s amateur boxer Lewis Benson will do everything in his power to ensure he is selected for next year’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow – even if it requires beating team-mate and close friend Josh Taylor to the No. 1 spot.
The current British and Scottish champion at 64kg, who quit his full-time job to focus on his boxing, is in the midst of preparing for the defence of his Scottish title, with the championships starting later this month.
However, while admitting retaining his title could go a long way to determining his selection for the Games next summer, Benson is aware of the prospect that it could come down to a face-to-face showdown with Taylor in the ring.
The 21-year-old said: “If I get a fair crack at it then I am very confident I can make the team. There are certain aspects you need to meet to be selected which obviously includes keeping on winning your fights, attending international trips abroad and going to training camps, so hopefully I will accumulate enough points to make the team.
“But Josh might be competing at my weight as well, so it may come down to a box-off if they cannot separate us. I feel ready to fight him should this happen. We both train together and are good friends, so the spot is there for the taking for both of us. Josh is my main threat and I am confident I can beat him, but I hope it doesn’t come down to that. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens over the next few months.”
After deciding to leave school at the age of 16, the former Royal High pupil entered into full-time employment as a trainee electrician with Crown House Technology, a position he held up until the end of last year after realising he was putting his own health in serious jeopardy.
“I had a bit of a breakdown in November and felt I couldn’t do both anymore,” Benson explains. “I was working seven days per week and training at night and it just got all too much where I couldn’t cope. I spoke about it with my family, my coach Terry (McCormack) and my work who have been very understanding and are prepared to give me time to focus on my boxing.
“It had to be one or the other as my head just wasn’t with it for quite a while and I was going through the emotions of it all, but I want to progress with my boxing career and that is what I have chosen to do.”
His employers have shown their hand by providing Benson with an option of returning to work should he feel ready to make that step, a support and loyalty he is extremely appreciative of.
However, his love for the sport of boxing was too intense to discard, with future ambitions stretching way beyond representing his country at next year’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. He said: “It was a really hard decision to make and probably the hardest decision I have faced in my life, choosing between boxing and my work.
“I had been used to having a full-time wage in the bank and have been a fully qualified electrician for six months now. I train six times per week and three times per day at that, so it’s very intense. I do morning runs, one-to-one gym sessions with my coach, strength and conditioning so it’s a lot of work, but I want to get into the best shape of my life.
“I’m feeling really dedicated now and want to take advantage of this opportunity I have been given. Everyone is right behind me and I know it will be hard to qualify but I need to be at my best. I think I am improving already so I want to be in top shape to defend my Scottish title this month and then my British title after that. I have ambitions to turn professional in the future so I have to give it everything I have.”
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