Have you heard?

Have you heard?

If I asked a group of 100 people in Nottingham if they had heard of Carl Froche. I wonder how many people would raise their hands What do you think? 30? 50? 70 maybe?

He’s a well-known boxer in Nottingham, who had his debut fight at aged 25, in March 2002. It was a fight that he won in a 4th round knockout against the Journeyman (Michael Pinnock).

If I mentioned Ezra Taylor’s name to a room of 100 people, I wonder how many people would have heard of him. 40? 25? 15? 10?

I’m not too sure why that is, though.

Ezra (The Cannon) Taylor is a twenty-five-year-old man who is a semi-professional boxer living in Nottingham. He has been boxing for a few years, initially starting his training at Bilborough Community ABC. Ezra has been interviewed several times by the BBC (TV and radio) because of the level of success he has had early into his career as a boxer. He has won some impressive belts during this time and is seen as a sports personality to be observed. Ezra has an increasing fanbase that is local, in the UK and abroad. They support him in and out of the ring.

Ezra has had fights up and down the country. His most recent one took place at the Harvey Haddon Stadium, Bilborough, Nottingham, on 7th March 2020. He won by a technical knockout (TKO) in the second round. He told me that he’s won a total of five belts at amateur level for varying weights. They have all been necessary, but this one was more so because the event took place a short distance away from where his boxing career began. Most significantly, it was his first professional fight.

He is a determined young man. His daily routine is one that not many people could or would follow. Ezra has a fitness programme that lasts for several hours, incorporating strength and cardio exercises put together by the team behind him. He watches what he eats, and his menu is planned to provide the optimum nutrients and fuel that his body requires to aid his success and his commitment and drive to do the best that he can.

I had the pleasure of catching up with him.

How long have you been boxing?
I started when I was 15 but took a break. I started going to the gym to get a little stronger. I then returned later on…so, I’ll say around 5 years.

You had a break from boxing, so what was it that made you go back to it?
I stopped because I ended up getting moved into the advanced class, which I felt was too much for me at the time (I just didn’t like getting punched in the face in sparring, really). I stopped and then I started to go to the gym. I put a bit of muscle on and then decided to go back to keep fit… The rest is history, really.

Why this and not another sport?
I tried basketball and football, which were just a passing hobby as all my friends were playing either one of them at the time. I enjoyed them both, but it wasn’t enough for me to keep attending without having to force myself to go… Until I found boxing. It gave me a lot of discipline, determination and confidence.

What was its attraction for you?
Nothing specific attracted me towards it. The attraction started to grow when my understanding of the sport became more apparent. It was probably the realisation that whatever work you put into boxing is what you get out. You can’t rely on anyone else to win/succeed for you, and the glory is 100% yours.

Can you tell me about your belts?
My first belt was for the Central England Area at the Light Heavyweight level in 2017 (not sure of the date). I won by split decision. I was 3-0 at the time, and my opponent was 16-2.

My second was Nottingham and Lincoln Area at Light Heavyweight, which was also in 2017. I’m not too sure who I fought for this one, but I won on a unanimous decision.

My third was the East Midlands Region at Light Heavyweight, which was in 2018. I promised my aunty, who was dying of cancer at the time, that I would definitely win that belt for her… I won by knockout in the 2nd round.

My fourth was Midlands Region at Cruiserweight, which was a last-minute fight – literally. I was meant to fight for the EAST Midlands belt that same night, but my opponent pulled out 10 minutes before me, and my coach was about to leave out to go to the venue. I had no hope of fighting that night, so my coach said he would make a few calls to see what he can do. 15 minutes later, I had a Midlands title fight in Birmingham. The original fight was meant to have been in Leicester – I travelled down to Birmingham in no time and got the victory by split decision.

My fifth belt was East Midlands Region at Cruiserweight 2019, which was against a hard opponent I fought and beat twice previously… I won that by a unanimous decision.

Do you have a strict routine, and what does it look like?
Very. It is important to me to keep to a strict routine to remain focus and on track. I run about 3 times a week (minimum) and train 2/3 times a day. Training sessions can include several things: technique work, cardio work, sparring or strength work.

What keeps you motivated?
Knowing that my mum still works, and I have the power to change both of our futures if I work as hard as I need to.

Lots of parents’ work, how is the fact that your mum is still working any different from anyone else?
My mum has been a single parent for a while. She has worked harder than anyone I know to raise my older brother and me. I’m forever grateful and will never be able to truly pay her back for it. She deserves the world, so it is one of the main things that pushes me to achieve my goals – so that I can change her life as well as mine!

Who is your idol in and out of the ring?
Anthony Joshua is a great example of an Idol, inside of boxing and outside. The way he treats his family and friends is admirable, and I look to do the same someday.

What was it like fighting and winning in Nottingham?
It’s great, being born & bred in this city. It’s a great feeling to be able to fight at home (at times) and have a lot of home supporters come out to watch my dream come true. Fighting is one thing, but having your hand raised at the end of the contest to signify the win is a feeling I can’t really describe.

Do you have any advice for people who want to get to your level of fitness?
Try not to rely on anyone else other than yourself. It’s not easy… But if it was, it wouldn’t be worth having!

How did you stay fit during the lockdown?
I just trained – I just did the same thing I was doing before but by myself. I was still running. Boris didn’t put a restriction on that, so I was running. And to be fair, I was running even more than before because there were minimal cars out there. As a runner, when you’re running, you obviously breathe deeply. When you’re breathing deeply with no cars on the road, less pollution, and there’s no noise as well – it was something different. It gave me a bit more incentive to keep running, keep running, keep running, keep running…

Sometimes I used to run to the gym. To be fair, I made it a regular thing. I’d run to the gym, which was in Bilborough, train and then walk back or do just a light jog back. Or I’d ride my bike there, train and ride back. I just kept fit. I just kept active. Don’t get me wrong, the lockdown period can be seen as a bad thing. I know that it was a bad thing for a lot of people – I’m not saying it wasn’t. But for me, it was like a test to see how much I really wanted it. It was a question of, shall I just take my foot off the gas now and sit back? Or use it as an excuse that would have been valid, but no excuse is valid in my head. So, I just thought you know what, you’ve got to keep going – this is the time where you can go into your little cocoon and stay there, or you can blossom and turn into a butterfly.

What advice would you give to the fifteen-year-old Ezra Taylor?
Regardless of the ups and downs you will DEFINITELY face in the future due to mistakes or just the nature of learning… Do not give up!

Based on your own experience, what advice would you give a young person who was thinking of taking up boxing in the hope of it becoming a career?
Put your all into this sport. 9 times out of 10, you won’t be able to put 50% in and reap the rewards. It’s a tough and unforgiven sport. You have to focus on yourself and be careful in it.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Not anything specific as such, just to shed light on how hard the sport is and how much sacrifice every boxer has to put into it, not just me myself. We do so much behind closed doors. So much is done behind the scenes to showcase for a maximum of 36 minutes (12 rounds) on a fight night, under the lights. People don’t understand the magnitude of what we have to do behind closed doors and how disciplined we have to be even when we’re not training for a fight.

How switched on and determined we have to be, to train throughout. Switching up the training regime – making sure you go to sleep on time, making sure you eat the right food. Don’t get me wrong, many people will be like, you only have to do that when you’re training for a fight. Let’s say that you have eight weeks to prepare, and that’s fine for some people, but for someone like myself, it’s more than just a job – it’s my life, my passion. I do it every day. If I don’t do it every day, it’s a day wasted, and I feel like a bum. So, I always do something. Don’t get me wrong, I’m always working but smarter, not harder – I like to do both, to be honest.

Just shedding light on how hard it is. You have to respect every boxer (anyone) who goes into the ring because it’s a hard fear it’s not easy. Not to name all the other pressures around it as well. The journey is hard but a reward at the same time.

Thank you for taking the time out to interview me!

Ezra’s success to date indicates to me that we should keep track of his progress. He is twenty-five years old and is already boxing at a professional level. If his winning continues as it is, we may expect him to win another belt very soon. He dispels the image that there used to be of the sport and the boxer. People used to see boxers as tough guys, using the ring as an excuse to hurt others, angry people, thugs etc. Thankfully, that has all changed.

Ezra shows that you need to be focused on your goal and dedicated to the sport to be a successful boxer. He has demonstrated this by making a round trip (several times a week) of nearly 10 miles to train. Previously, when friends were going out clubbing, he’s had to make tough decisions, go with his friends, or focus on his goal by ensuring enough sleep. Also, monitoring the food he eats, ensuring that his body is in the optimum shape for success. He is indeed a commendable young man.

Unfortunately, due to the lockdown restrictions, Ezra has had several fights postponed. He is waiting for confirmation of future dates. He has shared his social media details so that we can keep track of his progress.

Instagram: Ezra_thecannon_taylor
Facebook: Ezra Taylor
YouTube: Ezra Taylor

Sharon RM Stevens