Sheldon McDonald: Johnny Nelson helps Sheffield Hallam student and ex-semi-pro footballer on boxing journey

A Sheffield Hallam student and former semi-professional footballer is hoping to make his mark in boxing with the help of ex-world champion Johnny Nelson.

Thursday, 3rd March 2022, 1:53 pm
Updated Thursday, 3rd March 2022, 1:54 pm

Sheldon McDonald from Wybourn is set for his third professional fight next Friday, having turned professional in October upon the advice of Nelson, who dominated the cruiserweight division in his heyday.

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"I trained with Johnny and it was him that sparked it off,” said the 25-year-old final year accountancy student.

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Sheldon is mentored by former cruiserweight world champion Johnny Nelson.

"He said I was good enough to turn pro. I did some sessions with him, took his advice and went with it.”

So what’s it like having one of the Steel City’s finest boxing exports in your corner?

"It’s amazing,” said Sheldon, who is also a cruiserweight with two wins on his record so far.

"He gives great advice. Coming from somebody that’s already done it, it definitely inspires me.”

Sheffield cruiserweight prospect Sheldon McDonald. Photo courtesy of Global Boxing Management.

Former Sheffield Park Academy pupil Sheldon boxed as a child before switching his focus to football and playing for the likes of Sheffield FC, Handsworth and Clipstone.

"My dad was a Thai boxer so me and my brother Brandon grew up in boxing gyms. I was mainly focused on football but Brandon was more into boxing.”

Brandon, who struggled with his mental health, took his own life aged 24 in December 2017.

The tragedy inspired Sheldon to get back into the ring.

Sheldon and his late brother Brandon.

"Boxing gave me an outlet and something positive to do,” he said.

"I just wanted to get my head right, lose some weight and do a tribute fight because my brother was a boxer.

"I had a tribute fight in February 2018 at 91kg and from that my coach said: ‘You need to stay in the gym, you are good at this’.”

Later that year he won a gold medal at the National Development Championships.

When lockdown hit in March 2020, Sheldon gave up football to focus on boxing and his degree.

"I enjoy studying but since I’ve turned pro it’s been hard to manage,” he said.

"It’s something I set my sights on a couple of years ago, so I want to complete it.

"I realise I started boxing late but I want to do it the traditional way, aim to win a Central Area title, English title, British title and see what level I can get to."

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