What Leeds looks like

The cost of winning | Josh Warrington interview

Written by: Rob Conlon
Artwork by: Eamonn Dalton
Luke Ayling squeezing Josh Warrington around the head after he won his last world title fight. Josh is grimacing, because Ayling doesn't realise he has a broken jaw

“Before they announced me to come out I was standing behind the doors,” says Josh Warrington. “I had about thirty seconds before going on and I was like, ‘No wait, let me go to the toilet.’ I had to do a bit of a nervous piss.”

Warrington has walked to the ring 33 times as a professional boxer, from his debut at Huddersfield Leisure Centre to becoming world champion at Elland Road. But he’s not telling me about those lonely waits before risking his life in a battle of the sweet science. He’s telling me about waiting backstage at Leeds’ O2 Academy in July, preparing to play guitar with Yorkshire indie rockers Skylights.

“I’d done no rehearsing whatsoever,” he says. “I’d never played with a drummer behind me and a bass player as well. I was trying to get used to timings, and everything’s in the big amps, really loud. I did a bit of practising during the day when they were doing the soundcheck. I had an adrenaline rush and I went out and played. And then after, I was pumped man. I took my shirt off, threw it into the crowd. I loved it. My first time playing with a band. My first gig, in front of 2,000 people. It was certainly special.”

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