A Lancaster mum found herself top of the bill at an exclusive training session with boxer Anthony Crolla weeks before the world champion makes the first defence of his world title.
Mum Marion Haines, from Lancaster, is a member of ‘Crolla’s Army’ who were all put through their paces by the fighter during a friendly sparring session in the countdown to their own big sporting challenge when they line up in the Great Manchester Run on Sunday May 22.
Anthony took time out from the build up to his WBA lightweight world title bout against Ismael Barroso, from Venezuela, at the Manchester Arena on Saturday May 7 to give a personal pep talk to Marion. Anthony has hand-picked 12 runners - one for each round of a professional boxing bout and all of whom have personal reasons for taking part in the 10k run.
Marion, a civil servant, was inspired to get involved after she was in the crowd watching son Michael take part last year.
She said: “I was stood on the start line and saw Anthony Crolla being interviewed on television. I thought ‘I’m going to give it a go’ and can’t believe I’ve been chosen as one of ‘Crolla’s Army.’
“Michael is quite jealous and we’re both doing the run this year, though I’ll be with Anthony Crolla on the start line. I run a fair bit so am fairly fit after losing a lot of weight in the last five years.”
Marion was advised by Crolla what it takes to become a world champion.
Anthony will join his teammates on the start line in the Great Manchester Run before they all complete the 10k route wearing branded ‘Crolla’s Army’ running shirts. They will then meet up at the finish to share experiences.
Anthony said: “The Great Manchester Run is one of the greatest sporting events in the city. Just taking part as one of the 40,000 runners and being cheered through the city centre by thousands of supporters is incredible, but to have my own team is amazing.
“I take inspiration from my team of runners who include people who’ve fought major difficulties in their life, including cancer, to come back stronger.
“Some have made big changes in the lives to get fit while others are raising money and awareness for important causes and in memory of loved ones.
“I’m now stepping up my preparations to defend my world title.”