CHAMPION boxer Anthony Nelson is set to swap punching power for pedal power this weekend as he takes part in a gruelling charity bike ride.
The Commonwealth belt holder, of South Shields, will complete a coast-to-coast journey in memory of best friend Ross Young and cousin Dale Lincoln, who died last year.
The 29-year-old, along with 27 other friends and relatives of Mr Young and Mr Lincoln, plans to cycle from Whitehaven in Cumbria to Sunderland.
He will set off on the 135-mile journey on Friday and is due to complete it on Sunday.
After the final leg is complete, the cyclists will pedal back to South Shields, to the Jolly Steward pub, in Fulwell Avenue, to be greeted by family and friends, and a spread will be put on for them.
Anthony won the Commonwealth super-flyweight title last month, adding to the English and northern area belts he already had.
He is raising funds for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, South Tyneside District Hospital’s high dependency unit and Horsley Hill Amateur Boxing Club in South Shields.
He said: “I think it’ll be more mentally tough than anything else. The Sunday will be really difficult.
“It will be physically challenging, as we’ll still be recovering from the first two days.
“I think we’ll all get through it for such a good cause, though.
Half of the people doing it haven’t done a day’s training in their life, but they’re going to get on their bike and go for it.Anthony Nelson
“That’s what will be spurring us all on. Half of the people doing it haven’t done a day’s training in their lives, but they’re going to get on their bikes and go for it.
“We are all close friends and family of Ross and Dale.
“When we get back to the Jolly on Sunday, the rest of the friends and family will be there to welcome us back, and I’m sure that will be a great occasion.”
The group got in some practice on Sunday, cycling from South Shields to Corbridge in Northumberland and back.
Anthony, nicknamed Babyface, said: “We did 70 miles on Sunday, and that was the first time on the bike for me. My legs were quite good yesterday. It was just my backside that really hurt! We were constantly on the move and didn’t really stop until we got to Corbridge. We stopped there for something to eat and drink, and it was difficult after that, because we had seized up a bit.
“It’s really different to any of the boxing training I do, but I think this will help my boxing in terms of my stamina.
“I do running, boxing training and work a lot on my strength, so I know I’m physically fit enough to do it.
“It’s just whether or not my backside can cope with it!”
So far, Mr Nelson has raised about £200, and he says he will be happy with whatever he gets.
He said: “£1,000 is the target, but that was just a target I was aiming for myself. Even if I only made £50, I would be happy, as it is going to such great causes.”
Anyone who would like to donate to Anthony’s fundraising efforts can visit www.gofundme.com/s33k3km8