Boxer Nelson fights for British Showjumping
Sunday, 06 February 2011
Holding the Cruiserweight World title for six years which he successfully defended 13 times, Nelson is just the man to put his weight behind a sport that is tough, demanding and incredibly competitive, officials hope.
Showjumping, he believes, has every attribute and he's an extremely passionate spokesman which may surprise those who think equestrianism is no sport for a hardened boxing champion.
"People often raise an eyebrow when I tell them I ride, that I love horses and that I really think it's one of the toughest sports out there," said Nelson.
"I'm sure they often think I'm just pulling their leg - so my response to this is always that they should just get on a horse, try it and then tell me if they think it's soft!
"I rode as a teenager, then had a break during the heights of my boxing career before picking it up again a good few years ago.
"It really is a tough sport and one that you can make as demanding as you want it to be.
"Showjumping for me is the ultimate equestrian sport.
"It's fast, easy to understand, the bravery of the horse and rider are unquestionable and the stakes are high.
"People don't realise the work that goes on in the background to get these horses at peak performance.
"The riders are continually travelling the world giving their horses the experience they need to go out and compete with a Union Flag on their saddlecloths.
"It's a fabulous sport and one that I'm proud to be aligned with.
"You then have the grass roots side of the sport, which is where I started as a teenager and am still extremely proud to be part of it.
"The achievement I feel when I've tackled something new in my weekly lesson still gives me a buzz.
"How many sports can do that for you after 30 years?
"It was this, along with the way the sport is strategically working towards delivering success for Great Britain that made me jump at the chance of supporting them publicly as an Ambassador - a role that I feel honoured to accept."
Maria Clayton, head of communications for British Showjumping, said: "We feel extremely fortunate to have Johnny giving us such public support and we can't thank him enough for accepting the role of Ambassador.
"I'm sure many eyebrows will be raised when they hear him say that the sport is as hard as the one in which he had global success - I'm hoping as a result it will attract new spectators to the sport."
Nelon made his debut appearance as a British Showjumping Ambassador at the Yorkshire International Show (YISE) press launch where he was also announced as Ambassador for the event.
He will also be attending key events during the year supporting the Great Britain in their campaign for podium success in the build-up to London 2012.