Boxing star Mikey McKinson shares his story of defeating the odds with US Portsmouth players as they prepare for biggest game in club’s history
US Portsmouth are looking to land another incredible knockout blow this weekend and book their place in the FA Vase final at Wembley.
So who better to provide the squad with some inspiration ahead of the biggest game in the club’s history than Portsea Island’s boxing sensation Mikey McKinson?
The Pompey Problem was an invited guest of USP boss Glenn Turnbull at the squad’s final training session on Thursday prior to the Vase semi-final showdown with Hellenic League Premier Division Binfield.
McKinson, 26, shared with the USP squad and management staff his experiences of being doubted as a boxer - only to prove so many wrong to presently stand with a 20-0 professional record, winning the WBC world youth, international silver and WBO European and Global welterweight belts along the way.
Just like those connected to USP, the southpaw told how very few outside of his camp felt he would hit the heights of where he finds himself today.
It's a sentiment not uncommon with the footballers on their astonishing journey to the FA Vase semi-final.
In all of the seven rounds they've played so far, Turnbull's troops have been second favourites.
Yet here they still stand, now just one win away from a dream Wembley final.
Heading into such a huge showdown, Turnbull felt it was important to re-emphasise to his players how continued self-belief can help them continue to punch above their step 6 weight.
He explained: 'We don’t bring a world champion down here every week, that’s for sure.
‘But I think the story resonates, his coach Gav (Gavin Jones) is my cousin, I spoke to him this week and felt there was a real synergy in the story.
‘No-one gave Mikey a chance (in his WBO Global welterweight title fight with Chris Kongo) - I’ve got to be honest, I thought Chris Kongo was good - but he was unshakeable in his self-belief.
'I want these boys (USP squad) to think ‘no-one has given us a chance since August, no-one expected us to beat AFC Portchester, no-one expected us to beat Bournemouth Poppies, the same with Brockenhurst, so on and so forth - but we did’.
‘It’s not unshakeable self-belief but if we don’t believe in ourselves then no-one is going to believe in us.'
Turnbull also invited BAE Systems colleague and mental health first aider and emergency response team medic, Danny Thompson, along to brief the squad before training.
USP captain Tom Jeffes revealed none of the squad knew McKinson was going to give a talk until he turned up.
He believes it could provide an additional bit of 'inspiration' to help them get over the line against Binfield.
Jeffes said: It was really interesting (McKinson’s talk).
‘It was unexpected, I think a couple of the lads were tipped off something was happening, but we weren’t told.
‘It’s an up and coming star in a similar vein to what we’ve done.
‘It’s not the underdog story, but one where you back yourself and other people don’t.
‘It’s just focusing on ourselves, let’s focus on what we’re good at and our strengths.
‘I thought it was perfect, really, it wasn’t too long and it was the sort of inspiration you need.’