Graham McCormack [5(1)-0] is adamant he isn’t helping out a friend by giving Shaun Kelly a job as his boxing coach.
The light middleweight domestic title hopeful has employed one of his ‘best mates’ as his chief trainer as he moves toward derby clashes and title fights – and has done so only because he feels it’s the right fit.
Working with pals can often be complex and frowned upon.
The ‘I am your coach, not your friend’ line has been trotted out nigh on every sport and there are those that argue that trainers, managers and coaches should avoid becoming to close to the athlete that work under them.
It’s too late to put what some may call a ‘healthy barrier’ between mentor and student in the case of long time friends McCormack and Kelly – and regardless of bond the fighter is adamant his new coach has the pedigree, knowledge and desire to help him peak as a fighter.
“Shaun had a good amateur career. He has been involved in the game all his life. He boxed some good guys in the amateurs and knows a lot about boxing,” McCormack told Irish-boxing.com before doubling down on the fact it’s not a ‘get by with a little help from your friends’ link up.
“Shaun is young and hungry for success. I’m hungry too so it made great sense to team up. I value what he says. We’ve been working together for awhile now and I’m really enjoying it. I feel I am learning a lot from him, I feel we are going to have some great nights in the future.” “He wants it as bad as me which is very important. This is where my journey is now and I’m looking forward to seeing how it goes over the next few fights.”
McCormack had been working with former Irish Champion Eddie Hyland, a respected member of the coaching fraternity and Hyland fight dynasty.
Their parting has no fall out origins, rather distance and life circumstances forced a change.
“The move from Eddie was really only because both our lives got very busy. I started working as the bills have to get paid and Eddie has stuff going on as well.
“I couldn’t make the journey to Dublin anymore with work and a new baby on the way,” adds ‘G-Train’.
“Me and Eddie are still very close and will always be. Eddie is a great coach and a great man and will always be like family to me.”
With the current pandemic putting restraints on fighters training capabilities, Kelly, a former welterweight of some note, has had to get creative with regard to training.
However, it seems he is preaching a similar message Hyland and is trying to get the crowd pleasing McCormack to value skill above will.
“At the minute, like everyone, we can’t do much together, but we are speaking regularly and going over a few things for me to work on at home.
“There is a lot of new stuff we are working on. I am working on boxing a bit more but also using what I have already to my advantage. We have had a few spars before COVID came in to all our lives and we were working on things there. I felt it working and I’m enjoying trying new things. It’s a great feeling to see them come off in sparing.”
While Kelly will take the ‘G’Train’ wheel, one Willie Casey has also jumped on board.
The former European champion will be part of the backroom team much to the delight of the southpaw.
“Willie’s involvement is as a coach, but he doesn’t have the time to do it full
time. He is helping me and Shaun, me as a boxer and Shaun as a coach,” McCormack clarifies.
“It’s great to have Willie on board with us. He knows a lot about the game and I have learnt a lot from him. I am really happy to have Willie on board and grateful. I was always a big fan of Willie so it’s great to have his input.
“I am also grateful to have Southside Boxing Academy letting me train up there.
“I would also like to give a mention to another man who has been part of my team since the start and now as well Albert Scacsia. Albert has been training me for the last thee years giving me specific padwork every week. He is a great padman and also knows his stuff, so another boxing man helping out is great.”