A JOCKEY who grew up in the same boxing gym as Tyson Fury and chased him round the ring punching his kneecaps has opened up on his journey to the top of racing.
Callum Rodriguez faced a career crossroads in his teens when he could have gone to the school of hard knocks – or become a boxer.
GettyRodriguez boxed with Fury growing up and says that time they shared in the ring helped mould him as a Group 1-winning jockey[/caption]
A love of horses and early success on the track convinced him the racecourse was the right place.
With career prize money earnings just shy of the £4million mark, it’s hard to argue otherwise.
Although that’s not to say it was tough giving up the chance to learn from the future world heavyweight champ at their Morecambe gym.
Rodriguez, now 26, fought in national finals and loved the mental and physical toughness you needed to succeed in the ring.
“I chased him round the ring a few times, punching his kneecaps.”
Sadly, that’s not where the link between the two ended.
Just like Fury, Rodriguez also suffered issues with substance abuse and in February 2019 tested positive for cocaine.
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That low point came 18 months after he won £177,413 with victory in the Ebor on Nakeeta for trainer Iain Jardine.
Rodriguez won two Listed races on Intense Romance for Michael Dods at the end of 2018, before his public downfall and subsequent six-month ban.
He called it a ‘stupid and costly mistake’ that, like Fury, could have thrown his career down the pan.
But he fought back and continues to punch above his weight as a jockey these days, nabbing his first Group 1 earlier this month.
Regional secured a massive £242,000 pay day for connections with his awesome win in the Betfair Sprint Cup at Haydock.
The former 95-rated handicapper made it 3-3 at the Merseyside track and in the process provided trainer Ed Bethell with his first Group 1 too.
In the background, always, was his link to boxing and the discipline it instilled.
He said: “It just grounds you to be tough and hard-wearing, which helps in this job because it’s long hours and it’s a constant battle with the scales.
“I think the boxing has stood me in good stead.”
Rodriguez said he chased Fury round their Morecambe gym punching his kneecapsGetty
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