KARL Turner grew up longing to box.
His grandfather Robbie Chaplow was an amateur boxer in England and as a boy he would stay with him and watch fights on Friday nights.
Turner was more than willing and able to fight but his immense cricketing talent which saw him take the winning catch for England in a Test match, meant the gentlemen’s game took priority.
But just three weeks after the Englishman made a blazing double century for West Warrnambool in the Warrnambool and District Cricket Association, (WDCA) the 26-year-old is set to realise his childhood ambition of stepping in the ring for the first time.
Turner, who arrived in Warrnambool in October for cricket, has spent the past four months training for his first amateur fight at the Reggio Calabria Club in Parkville tomorrow. He is scheduled to face Melbourne boxer Gus Araji for three two-minute rounds.
“My grandfather used to just muck around (boxing) with me and my brother,” Turner said.
“I used to stay at his house on Friday nights and we would watch it and I followed it for years and years. A few of my mates did it.”
But cricket contracts had prevented him from pursuing a fight. The frustration built even more when he was at county side Nottinghamshire where several cricketers trained for fights, including him, only to be denied the opportunity to get in the ring.
So when he arrived in Warrnambool, he discovered boxing coach Rod Ryan’s gym and put the gloves on for training.
What started out as a pursuit to build his fitness base for cricket, will end with a dream bout.
“I needed to have something to aim for,” he said.
He has shed more than four kilograms in two weeks to make the 75-kilogram weight limit for tomorrow’s fight.
“I’ve been in front of 30,000 people before (with cricket) and I’m used to pressure but obviously it’s a bit different.
“It’s great. I’m enjoying the challenge and I’m really looking forward to it.”
Turner, who will return to Esh Winning, his home town in Durham straight after West Warrnambool’s season finishes in the next month, is open to further boxing.
But again, cricket will take priority. He revealed he had heard whispers from agents back home that a couple of county championship clubs were keen on securing him for the English domestic season, which starts next month.
He will play with South Northumberland in grade cricket on Saturdays and minor county Northumberland unless he gets a contract with a county.
“If I don’t get signed by a county I will carry on boxing,” he said.
“There’s a 60-40 chance I will come back to Warrnambool for next year.”