Callum Hirst has come back from the disappointment of not becoming a professional athlete himself to helping coach some big names in sport.
Callum, 25, who hails from Holmfirth, is a proud and determined Huddersfield lad. Despite loving his hometown the former 100m sprinter and motocross rider has always dreamed about exploring the world. Now he is living that dream as he looks to help Huddersfield boxer Fes ‘The Terrier’ Batista become a champion.
Callum said: “I have worked with Fes for 13 months now. We both have the same dreams in how we want to succeed and that’s why I think we work well together. The pandemic meant the stars aligned and it gave us the chance to meet each other. We have just gone forward from there really.
“I’m very proud to come from Huddersfield, however I’ve always looked beyond our town and wanted something more. People have said I should just stay in the town, everything’s there I need, but I want to go see different places and have different experiences.”
Since November Callum and Fes have been at the other side of the Atlantic in both Mexico and the United States. Callum is helping to train Fes for what they hope will be an action packed year.
Callum said: “We had to go to Mexico first because of the Covid protocols to get into the US. However we used our time in Mexico as a training camp.
“Roy Jones Jr, Fes’s trainer, has been surprised how good a shape Fes is in. The heat in Mexico was horrendous but it was good for strength and conditioning work.
“Whilst in Mexico we took things back to basics. We weren’t in a tourist area and no one spoke English. Luckily I’d done Spanish at school which got us by. We trained in a tiny gym with no air conditioning. It was gruelling but a brilliant experience.
“Fes is very driven and so the work we did in Mexico set him up perfectly for Florida. When I first met Fes he told me that he was the most injury prone man on the planet. However since working with me he hasn’t been injured once.”
Callum is excited about the year ahead with Fes and says the Huddersfield lads will do it together come what may.
“We have experienced so much. We think like each other which is great because we know how to push each other. It’s a big year for Fes.
“We are having to renew our visas next month so I am coming back to England for a bit to see my family. It’s the longest I’ve ever been away from them. We are hoping to get a fight sorted before we have to leave and I know Roy is working hard on that.”
As well as training Fes, Callum is helping a number of other boxers including the legendary Roy Jones Jr.
He said: “As well as working with Fes, Roy has seen how good I’ve done and has given me the opportunity to work with him to try and add a few more years onto his career. It’s all very exciting, that a lad from Huddersfield is training the best boxer that’s ever lived.
“I’m also training a Golden Gloves winner which is special and another up and coming boxer. So there is a lot going on at the moment.”
Callum has had to adjust to life in America saying it’s very different to his life back home.
“In America everything is more relaxed,” he said. “Me and Fes have found that the hardest thing. We are going 100mph and other athletes aren’t.”
Having been interested in sport from an early age, Callum showed great potential as a 100m sprinter and could have been good enough to go to the Junior Olympics. However time and fate would deny him that chance and so he chose a more academic root to conquer his dreams.
“I was always the best of the rest, the kid that never quite made it,” said Callum. “I was good enough to go to the Junior Olympics however because of the way they work the years out, I was two months too old to compete.
“I went into motocross racing and whilst I was good at it I knew in the end I couldn’t make a living out of it. I was disappointed but I wanted to turn a negative into a positive.
“So I concentrated on my academic work, I studied sports science at Huddersfield New College. Then I carried that on to Sheffield Hallam University and also did a masters degree in strength and conditioning.”
Whilst at university Callum had the chance to work with an old family friend in the shape of then Sheffield Wednesday now Huddersfield Town striker Jordan Rhodes.
Callum, being a Town fan since the age of 10, had seen Rhodes play for the Terriers in his first spell at the club and now he was getting to work with one of his heroes.
He said: “I knew Jordan’s sister because we went to school together and I knew Jordan’s dad. I’d seen Jordan bang the goals in when he played for Town. I had some work experience at Barnsley Football Club and then moved onto Sheffield Wednesday in 2017. At the same time I was at Wednesday so was Jordan, so I got to work with him on strength and conditioning.
“Like the whole family Jordan is a down-to-earth, very professional person who is happy to chat and listen to anyone. It was difficult to watch him go through the tough spells at Wednesday when he was either injured or couldn’t put a run of goals together. You could see how frustrated he was.
“We had lots of honest conversations and talked about his time at Town which he always remembered fondly. We talked about the goals he scored and you could tell he thought it was a special time in his life.
“I did my best to tempt him to return to Town but at the time he just said he had some of the highlights of his career at Huddersfield and so he’d never say no to going back.”
Rhodes did re-sign for Town at the start of this current season and, despite his injury problems, Callum knows that if he can get back to playing consistent minutes the goals will come.
He added: “I know how determined Jordan is as a player. He always gives 100% effort and I know the goals will start to come again. Like with many other Town fans, I believe in him.”
The Terriers currently sit in the play-off places and Callum is pleased the club is once again showing the Terrier Spirit they had in the promotion season of 2016-17.
“I’m pleased we seem to have that Terrier Spirit back,” said Callum. “Me and Fes will hopefully show that same Terrier Spirit throughout 2022 in the ring.”