Last Thursday saw the announcement of the Sky Sports personalities who will mentor our Sky Academy Sports Scholars during their time on the programme, with boxer Jack Bateson being paired with Ringside presenter and former WBO champion Johnny Nelson.
After the duo appeared together on Sky Sports News we sat down with them to discuss how they see their mentor-mentee relationship working as well as Bateson's hopes for the coming year, Olympic inspiration and even David Beckham.
Read the full transcript of the interview below...
Firstly Jack, how much are you looking forward to having Johnny as your mentor?
JB: Yeah I'm really happy. Me and Johnny have known each other for a few years now, built up a little relationship and for me to have him, after everything he's achieved in boxing - he was an amateur, he went on to win a world title as a professional so he's experienced a hell of a lot, the highs and lows. So when it comes to my time and when I might need his advice, he can hopefully pass on that experience he's had and that'll benefit me.
So do you see him being able to provide you with help both in and out of the ring?
JB: Both, especially with the media with Johnny having such a big role within Sky boxing and working with world champions to Olympic champions he's seen it all and for him to give me that sort of advice and how to work better with the media and then also in training. If I'm doing something wrong he can tell me because obviously he's got a lot of boxing knowledge and he can just share all experiences with me.
And Johnny, in which areas do you think you'll most be able to help Jack?
JN: Ability-wise that is down to Jack and the people who are training Jack. That's one thing that I don't need to even consider getting involved with - that's not my business. My business is the one thing that you can't buy, borrow or pretend to have and that's experience. So for Jack, I know that I've probably been through a hell of a lot more than he has so for me to just pass on wisdom and say 'look this is what worked for me, it might not work for you.'
I admire people like Jack because of their achievements - I wish I had those achievements as an amateur. I found that once I turned professional that when I was fighting guys it was because of the pedigree they had as amateurs, like Jack's, that made me stumble when I first came across them. Eventually, slowly but surely, it was about that self-belief. Jack has all of that. He has the pedigree, he has the self-belief, he's maturing slowly but surely and once he gets used to this kind of environment, the dealing with the press, dealing with the media and taking it in his stride, not be shocked by the bright lights then the world's his oyster.
What usually happens to a lot of sportsmen, I call it the David Beckham syndrome, what happens is they see their face in the paper, you get a bit of bling, the earring, the jewellery, the nice suits and they think they've done it. What they don't realise is that David Beckham had to work really, really hard to become 'David Beckham.'
Jack will understand that and once the cameras are on him and the microphones are shoved in front of him, it'll be nothing to him. He won't get that syndrome, he'll just think 'I love my job and because I'm good at my job that's why I'm getting this attention.' It's just to give him that advice and making him aware of the pitfalls and how this sport can turn out.
Both yourself and Johnny have mentioned the media, how do you find it? Is it something you're still getting used to?
JB: I'm getting a little bit better now. When I had my first interview on Sky News, when they were announcing the Sports Scholars, I was really nervous but today, especially with Johnny by my side and us being quite comfortable together, it just flowed and I'm starting to enjoy it a bit now. Like Johnny says I can focus on what's important and that's the boxing.
You're still in the very early stages of your career but is working in the media something that appeals to you as an option in the coming years?
JB: It does interest me. I see Johnny on Ringside and it's something I'd love to be involved in, he's around world champions all the time, he's always at the big fights and it looks really good fun. It's definitely something I'd like to get involved in but boxing comes first and I've got to try and make my own career first in the ring.
What's next for you then in the ring, Jack?
JB: I'm currently in full training, I've got the ABA's coming up in April. My aim is to win them and by winning them that should hopefully confirm my place at the Commonwealth Games representing England. My big goal this year is the Commonwealth Games and once I go there, coming back with a gold medal, but you've got to take it step by step and if another tournament comes up then I'll be ready because, as I say, I'm in full-time training and I'm 100% fit.
And you were in Kazakhstan recently and have moved up a weight division...
JB: That's right, I'm boxing at flyweight now and I'm still only 19 and body is stilling growing. I'm boxing a lot better at this weight, at the end of the day it's nature and you can't stop nature. I had two bouts in Kazakhstan when I didn't expect to even be boxing, I got a week's notice. I beat the home boxer from Kazakhstan and then I boxed against an Uzbekistan fighter. It was a really close fight and I lost out in that one but with a week's notice I can't complain - a win and two good fights out there. I'm looking forward now and I'm in good shape.
JN: I like how Jack handles himself already. He's not like a young kid, he knows what to say and he's very grounded. I'd put a lot of that down to his parents and how they've brought him up. They've done amazingly because he impresses me.
He reminds me of Luke Campbell, or Carl Froch. These guys when it comes to speaking to the press, speaking about their careers, they're very articulate, they're very focused, they're very grounded and for me that's the basis for doing amazing things within the sport when they walk away from the game. But the most important thing is that they know that the first priority is being a boxer and that's what I need to hear.
I sacrificed everything for boxing because I thought the whole world was into boxing. I realised afterwards that they weren't, but that's what I wanted to think whilst I was actually doing the sport - and that's what Jack's done. His priority is boxing because he's a young man, he's very good at what he does and that's how it should be. He's not blocked off any avenues for when the game's over and at least he's looking beyond the clouds and seeing what he can do afterwards, after he's achieved things in the sport. Most fighters don't look ahead, they don't look at tomorrow.
How important do you think it is that Jack can now come to you and talk things through then, if he has a problem?
JN: It is very important. I had Brendan Ingle, he was my mentor, he was a guy that I more or less spent 20 hours of the day with. He helped guide me, he helped mould me - he calls it positive brainwashing and I was glad of it. Any aspects of boxing, in the ring or outside the ring, I knew how to handle it.
There's one formula that can help you through most things but you just have to find that formula. Jack seems to be on his first step on the ladder in terms of that. He's very calm, very focused in his approach to most things and that to me is everything. If you've got that attitude in your sport, in preparing for your sport, when talking to people from princes to paupers then you'll do fine, you will do really, really well.
The other thing is that Jack is in a gym where the Olympians are in there left, right and centre so he's used to the press coming in and out. That's a great learning curve for him. I don't think he needs me but I am there if he does. I just think he is doing everything perfectly already but he knows that if he just needs a bit of information he can pick the phone up and say 'Johnny, can I have a word'.
With these Olympians around you day in, day out, Jack, how does that help you?
JB: It's really inspiring. You've got the likes of Anthony Joshua, Nicola Adams who won gold medals at the Olympics and so for them to be around us guys in the gym training is great because you realise it's not actually that far away. It seems so far away when you think about it but when you see them doing the exact same things that you're doing - running in the morning, doing strength and conditioning in the day and training at night - you think well I'm doing the same, so it's definitely achievable.