Josh Taylor forced to quarantine for five days when all he wants to do is thank the Prestonpans people
Hundreds gathered outside his former local watering hole, the Goth, ready to congratulate their very own superstar on last weekend's Las Vegas history-making heroics.
His unanimous points win over the previously undefeated Mexican-American, Jose Ramirez, saw Taylor clean up the super lightweight division and become the first Briton to do so in the four-belt era.
His anticipated arrival at Edinburgh Airport on Tuesday afternoon not only sparked a media frenzy, but also led to people of all ages flocking to the East Lothian town in the hope of catching a glimpse of the Tartan Tornado. And they weren't disappointed.
First to embrace the 30-year-old, who was leaning out of his car window that was being driven by fiancé Danielle, was dad, James. But Taylor's stay in his home town was short and sweet as he had to continue his journey eight miles along the coast to Haddington, where he now lives, to quarantine for five days under elite athlete Covid travel regulations.
"The homecoming in Prestonpans was really cool. Driving back home, the streets were filled with familiar faces – friends, family and so many people I’ve known for so long," Taylor said. "There were a lot of kids there as well, all cheering me on, singing and dancing, making a big scene of it. It was really special.
"But I wanted nothing more than to just get out of the car and embrace them, join them in celebrations, go into the pub with them all and have a big party. I wanted to thank them all for their support. Instead, I had to stay in the car, wave and take a couple of quick selfies. I gave my dad a quick hug and lifted his hand up. Then I had to come away and come down the road, come home – and just sit here.
"I’ve been sat here for the last two or three days now. So, it’s been really cool, the response I’ve had from the media and everyone. But it’s also been very deflating and frustrating, as well. This should be the biggest and best party I’ve ever had in my life – and I’ve still not had a chance to properly see my mum, dad and little sister. I’ve not been able to sit down and talk to them properly, face to face, because I’m stuck in the house here. I’m stuck here with Danielle, who is ready to strangle me already!
"In some ways, it’s even harder than being in camp. It’s a bittersweet feeling because I saw so many faces I’ve known all my life. They lined the street for me. Outside the local pub, they’d gone right along the street. There were folk hanging out the windows, banging on drums and things. Right along the street. Hundreds of people turned out. I wanted nothing more than to get out and embrace them – because I love my town, I love the people who turned out for me.
"I felt as if I was being ignorant or something. All the kids were there wanting photos. I hung out the window of the car and took a couple of photos, shook a few hands. But I felt like I kind of let them down. My dad said they’d been waiting for a couple of hours because the plane was a little bit late and I had to do interviews when I landed at the airport.
"So, I felt a bit flat about it all and was a little bit frustrated about that when I came home. It really stinks that I’ve had to come home and do this for the next couple of days. It’s really, really frustrating."
Taylor has had some time to reflect on the magnitude of his 18th victory of his professional career and now hopes he can inspire others to follow their dreams.
"It’s all about inspiring future generations and younger kids," he explained. "I was a kid who looked up to the likes of Alex Arthur, Paul Appleby, Scott Harrison and guys like that. They all inspired me to do what they were doing. I wanted to be involved in the big fights they were in, I watched them training and saw what was needed.
"For me, there’s not a lot of opportunity for kids back home in Prestonpans, although it’s a bit better now. But I want to inspire the kids. I'd really like to make more time for them and see them more and speak to them. I'd like to kick back with them for 20 minutes or half an hour and even just see how they're getting on. I can try and guide them, although I can't say do this and do that but try and have a positive mind and a positive impact on them.
"The number of kids that were there on Tuesday, and young kids as well, there were a few teenagers who were so happy to see me so it was a little bit frustrating that I couldn't get out and embrace everyone. But I had to drive away. I would have loved to have sat and taken photos all day until my eyes closed shut."
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