Rob Burrow Marathon: Retired boxer will return to ring for fight the day before taking on Leeds marathon
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Leeds will host its first marathon in two decades on Sunday (May 14), but running the 26 miles around the city was not enough for one intrepid fundraiser. Semi-pro boxer Jonny McGregor, 40, will come out of retirement before the race to take on an opponent half his age.
The gruelling challenge is in aid of Leeds Hospitals Charity, which wants to build a specialist motor neurone disease care centre in the city. It will be named after Leeds Rhinos legend Rob Burrow MBE, who was diagnosed with the debilitating disease back in 2019.
Jonny, who lives in Otley, said: "Rob is a legend of the city. We're the same age and he has two kids, just like me. Seeing his decline has been horrendous. Motor neurone disease scares the life out of me, if I'm honest. I just wanted to do my bit, really."
The electrician left the unlicensed boxing circuit four years ago, but tomorrow (May 13) will fight for the Cruiserweight English title at the White Rose Banqueting Suite, in Tong Road. He spoke candidly about his feelings towards re-entering the ring.
"I'm massively apprehensive," said Jonny. "The lad I'm fighting is 25, and he's unbeaten. But it's Rob's story that motivated me to train so hard."
Jonny has been using the facilities at Otley's Club Energy gym for free, as he trains for both the fight and Sunday's race. He will be joined on the run with nine of his friends, none of whom have ever ran a marathon before.
"The thought of the marathon bothers me more than the fight, because I'll be stepping completely out of my comfort zone," said Jonny. "The furthest I've ever ran is 10km. If I'm completely honest, I hate running, it's not for me. But thinking about Rob and what he'd do to swap places with me has motivated me."