Tony Bellew: “I'd Rather Die Than Quit!”

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Pro boxer Tony Bellew is following in the Lonsdale-clad footsteps of fellow athletes turned actors Carl Weathers, Mr T and Dolph Lundgren and appearing as the main opponent in a Rocky movie – certainly no easy path to tread. He’s “Pretty” Ricky Conlon in Creed, the latest entry in the saga, and Bellew brings a wealth of boxing expertise to the role. But how does movie fighting compare to the real thing?

Where does your fitness come from?

I’d say I’m not naturally a good athlete, I’ve worked at it. I’m someone who’s very determined and motivated, whereas Michael B Jordan – who I trained with every other day and got to know really well – is such a naturally talented athlete. I mean, the kid can do anything he turns his hand to, whereas I’m just someone who likes to play a little bit of football and have a fight.

What will you never do again?

There’s a lot of things I do where I go “Jesus Christ, I never ever want to do that again”. Every time I go to a 400m running track, I feel like I never want to go back. I mean, I’ve run up Mount Teide in the Canaries, I’ve trained until I vomited – I’ve done everything you can imagine. It just depends on how much I can push myself on that exact day. But there’s no quit in me, I’d rather die than quit.

What do you do to motivate yourself?

When I was doing the movie, I was just listening to my colleagues and peers around me, like Sylvester Stallone and Mike, but the person that got me through the most was the director Ryan Coogler, because some days I’d be down and missing my family and he would put his arm around me and we’d just talk. I’m probably one of the most driven people you will ever meet – I've got a crazy work ethic, but he is the only person who I know who could out-work me.

How much did you have to change your training for the movie role?

Training for Creed was different to training for boxing. I lifted weights more and I cut down on certain things. Although it wasn’t massively taxing on the body physically, it was taxing on the mind – it’s very hard to stay focused when you’re doing anywhere between 12- and 16-hour days. Also, movie fighting is actually more stressful on the joints, because you’re punching people to miss. There’s no impact, so there’s much more chance of pulling a muscle because you’re overexerting the movement. No matter what I’m doing, though, I’ve got to be on my game – if someone doing a nine to five has a bad day, they go back to work the next morning, but if I have a bad day at work, I wake up in an ambulance…

Coach Staff

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