British light-heavyweight Anthony Yarde says he will take any emotion out of boxing when he returns to the ring following the deaths of two family members with coronavirus.
“Its one of those things you have to get by,” Yarde told BBC Radio 5 Live. “No-one expected it or is prepared to deal with it, so you just have to get past it.”
Yarde said his grandmother was in hospital when her son – Yarde’s father – died.
“The hardest thing was liaising with the hospital and whether they could tell my nan what had happened,” Yarde said.
“It was a lot harder for my other siblings than me. I stayed away from the hospitals and was on the phone getting updates.
“They were extremely close. A lot of my dad’s wishes and my nan’s wishes went hand in and and they relied on one another.”
Yarde has turned to exercise and watching as much comedy as possible to provide a distraction in a testing time.
He has had to adapt during the UK lockdown with no access to his training base at London’s Peacock Gym, and longer runs and bike rides have become part of his routine.
“The first time I went out for a run, I was seeing people having picnics and sitting on benches smoking together,” he said.
“I was looking thinking ‘are they being serious?’ This was close to when I got the news [about his father’s death] so you get an emotional reaction.
“It showed me people are not taking it seriously. I see people on social media at their friends’ houses. Clearly they are not understanding how this thing can escalate and how it can be transferred.”
‘Separate the emotion for a fight’
Yarde’s father, who was in his fifties when he died, left the family home when his son was a child. He was in Russia in October to watch Yarde go close to a huge upset in his first shot at a world title.
Yarde looked close to overcoming the respected Sergey Kovalev, only for the Russian to secure an 11th-round stoppage.
It was the first blemish in Yarde’s 20-fight career and one he hopes to put behind him in a bout with undefeated Briton Lyndon Arthur at London’s O2 Arena on 11 July.
Yarde said he is unsure how his mindset on fight night may differ to previous big occasions given his recent grief.
“I won’t know until I am in that situation,” he said.
“I have learned in boxing to separate emotion from your job and the time in the ring. When it comes to anything that causes an emotional trigger I try to clear my head.
“Nine times out of 10 the smarter or mentally focused fighter comes out on top.”
Yarde’s return fight is still set to go ahead despite the widespread shutdown of sport because of the pandemic.
Fighters will need to pass tests for Covid-19 when action resumes, while the BBBofC is also keen on a quarantine period for participants before any event.
“I am using this time to get stronger in certain areas. Naturally you will decline in some areas,” Yarde said.
“The power is with the promoters. As fighters we are entertainers and we wait for these shows to be put on.
“Us fighters thrive on performing and entertaining a crowd. Yes, people will be watching on TV but it won’t be the same.”