After swapping the football pitch for the boxing ring last week, Colne forward Jay Hart said his experience of trying a new sport for charity was something that ‘he will never forget.’
Coming face to face with hard-hitting Ryan Casey from Blackburn, Hart was always going to be up against it.
Nevertheless, the money he raised for Cancer Research has been invaluable, and after notching his 26th goal of the season for Colne on Tuesday, his boxing training has clearly benefited him at the XLCR Stadium.
With hundreds in attendance at the Dunkenhalgh Hotel, Hart was cheered on by the crowd and was unlucky not to win his bout, with Casey gaining victory on points to the disappointment of the footballer’s ringside team.
Reflecting on the event, the goalscorer already has ambitious plans to fight again in May, as he explained why, despite defeat, charity was the biggest winner, with Cancer Research benefiting from Hart’s blood, sweat and tears: “The boxing on a whole was incredible, I loved every second of it. Unfortunately I lost by decision but the experience was amazing.
“My opponent was six foot two, and it was very difficult to reach him at times.
“I had a gameplan in the ring, but as soon as the bell rang, it all went out of the window and everything you’ve envisaged just doesn’t happen the way it should.”
Hart added: “The result was decided on points in the end, Ryan took the second and third rounds, and although it was close overall, he just edged it.
“The whole group raised £12,000 for Cancer Research, and at the end of the day that’s all that matters.”
After previous misdemeanours on the field, Hart has clearly turned his life around, both away from the game and on the football pitch since 2015.
Fighting fit and proving his doubters wrong, the former Clitheroe man has seemingly caught the charity bug too.
You see more of Hart’s infectious smile after losing two-and-a-half-stone over the last year, and speaking further about events in the ring, he thanked everyone for supporting his long and arduous journey to redemption: “I’m boxing again in May to raise funds for Pendleside hospice and a local football team, I’m hoping for a better result this time though.
“The support I had on Sunday was unbelievable and I want to thank everyone who came out to watch me.”
Hart continued: “I’d like to give a big thankyou to my family and friends for their support and generous donations, they have helped me through everything and I’ll never be able to thank them enough.”
Away from the boxing ring, Hart has the small matter of a promotion challenge to contend with.
As his side Colne battle it out to win the North West Counties title, the front man’s touch in front of goal could be the difference between silverware and another season in the ninth tier.
Consistently hitting the back of the net since the turn of the year, the 25-year-old now wants to give current league leaders Runcorn Linnets a knockout blow, as he has set his sights on leading the Reds to glory come early May.
“I have to admit that boxing is a lot harder than football.
“I can run around a pitch all day long, but I was shattered after being in the ring for three minutes!
“Things are going very well at Colne at the minute,
“I’m scoring goals for fun and hopefully it’ll continue for the rest of the season as we push for promotion.”