Students at Manchester Creative and Media Academy in Blackley, less than a mile from Crolla’s home in New Moston, gave the United fan a hero’s welcome by chanting his name as he arrived for a special assembly, during which he answered questions about his career and gave a motivational speech.
“I’m just a local lad who’s achieved his dream,” Anthony told the pupils. “I was a student who had a dream and I’ve been lucky enough and worked hard to make that dream come true. Whatever you wish to do in life, and I’m not just talking about boxing, I hope I can be an inspiration to work hard to achieve it.”
Following the assembly Anthony joined a PE lesson, which included boxing drills, and the defending champion even picked up the pads and gave some training tips.
One of the young people in the session was 14 year-old Ellie, who is a member of the Moston and Collyhurst Amateur Boxing Club. Anthony spent time on the pads with her and described her as “extremely talented.”
Ellie said, “It’s always been my dream to meet Anthony Crolla; I’ve always looked up to him and watch his videos to see how he does things so I can try them myself when I fight.
“Being from the same area as Anthony is a big inspiration; round here you don’t see many people as big and successful as him so I definitely look up to him and I think a lot of people do – my brother has got his Crolla shirt ready for Saturday’s fight! We’ll be watching and I definitely think he’s going to win.”
Anthony said visiting the school and meeting the students was the perfect motivation for him ahead of Saturday’s clash with former three-weight world champion Linares.
“It’s been an absolute privilege,” he said. “I was really impressed with the facilities but with the kids as well. I remember being young and watching the likes of Ricky Hatton and it definitely inspired me. I sat there and thought ‘I really want that to be me one day.’ So if there’s a young boy or girl here at the school, or watching me on Saturday, hopefully I can do the same for them.
“Winning the world title was one thing but to win on Saturday for the greatest prize in the sport will be something else and so special. I just want to make everyone around me and everyone who comes to watch proud.”