Boston boxing hero Callum Johnson ‘quits’ sport, citing self-discipline and mental health challenges – Mayor of Boston pays tribute to his achievements and courage

Boston boxing hero Callum Johnson has bid an emotional farewell to the sport, saying he has been unable to overcome challenges relating to self-discipline and mental health.

Callum Johnson with his Commonwealth belt.
Callum Johnson with his Commonwealth belt.

The 37-year-old who won Gold at the Commonwealth Games in 2010 and a number of professional titles and has a street named after him in Boston, made the announcement on his Facebook page on Thursday.

It read: “Well the day has come I never thought would, and the day I never wanted to come. I don’t think ‘retiring’ is the right word so I’ll say ‘quitting’.

“But the boxing days are over, not by choice really or on my own terms, but more by lack of self-discipline and struggling to battle and deal with my own mental struggles and demons. I tried and I tried again but kept failing.”

The naming of Callum Johnson Close in 2020.

Continuing, he said: “I’ve let a lot of people down, especially this year and I’m truly sorry and I never meant for it to end this way and honestly never saw it ending this way.

“Even up to a couple of days ago I was thinking there’s got to be a way I can salvage it and right all my wrongs, both to myself and others that have helped me, but this time it’s genuinely too little too late.”

When Callum Johnson won Gold at the Commonwealth Games in 2010, representing Scotland, he told The Standard: “This is everything I’ve ever worked for since being a young boy and putting the gloves on with my Dad in the kitchen.”

In the professional career that followed, he came out on top in 20 out of 21 bouts, winning the Commonwealth and British light heavyweight titles in the process.

It may come as a surprise to some, then, to see Callum look back on his career with regret.

“People will say I achieved a lot and I suppose I did in a sense, and maybe as a 10-year-old boy if I was told I was gunna win what I did and do what I’ve done I would of been a happy 10-year-old. Truth is though, I will always remember my career for what I didn’t win and what I didn’t do,” he wrote in his post.

In his statement, Callum also thanked all those who have offered him support during his career. As for the future, he said he would need some time to come to terms with the end of this part of his life – the only part, he said, he has ever known.

Locally, Callum has long been recognised for his achievements in sport – he even has a street named after him, Callum Johnson Close, a short walk from where he grew up in Porcher Way, Fenside.

Among those praising him this week following his announcement was Mayor of Boston Coun Anne Dorrian.

“Speaking on behalf of all the residents who live here, I would like to take this opportunity to commend Callum Johnson on his fantastic accomplishments in the sport of boxing,” she said.

“When Callum reached the final of the 81kg Light Heavyweight category in the 2010 Commonwealth Games, it felt as though every single person in the town was cheering him on, and his Gold medal win gave the whole town a real sense of pride. I think we all felt it on a personal level to some extent, that one of us Bostonians had triumphed on the world stage and even though he represented Scotland that day, we all felt that Callum belonged to us.”

Continuing, she said: “In his recent announcement, Callum has also shown extraordinary courage in being able to speak out about his mental health issues and I hope his brave stance encourages teenage boys and young men to seek help if they too are struggling in the same way.

“I wish Callum every success going forward and it’s my sincerest hope that he finds a path which brings him happiness and success.”

The Standard contacted Callum about his post and he has replied, saying he would be open for an interview. This, we are now looking to arrange.