GROWING up in inner-city Manchester, it’s no surprise Joe Gallagher has had to come through the school of hard knocks to get to the top.
But that pinnacle is exactly where he currently sits – voted the best trainer of 2015 by renowned American boxing publication Ring Magazine ahead of the likes of Floyd Mayweather Snr.
It’s an accolade rightly deserved, too, for the 47-year-old who has been involved with the sport he loves since the age of 10.
Not that he lets it go to his head; this unassuming coach is not one to rest on his laurels – he is eyeing even more glory for his Gallagher’s Gym camp this year.
But it has been a long road to get to those star-studded box office events from humble beginnings in Wythenshawe, south Manchester.
Gallagher said: «I started boxing aged 10.
«I boxed as an amateur out of Wythenshawe Forum under Jimmy Egan.
«In fact, I was his first winner at 11 years old.
«I switched clubs at 17 and went to Moss Side ABC under Phil Martin.
«I became the coach there at 23; Phil trained the pros – which at the time included four British champions – while I looked after the amateurs.
«I had a great apprenticeship under Phil and Jimmy, which stood me in good stead.
«I went on to coach at various other clubs, like Benchill, before deciding to turn professional.
«I had a young Steve Foster there who had just gone to the world championships.
«I knew the kids I had trained as an amateur were coming through like John Murray, Joe Murray and Hosea Burton and that they would want to turn pro.
«Matthew Macklin joined, then the Smith brothers and they are still working with me.
«I have known Anthony Crolla since he was a kid and then Scott Quigg joined and it has gone on and on.»
With fighters like Quigg, Crolla and the Smiths (Paul, Callum, Liam and Stephen), Gallagher made the move to Bolton four years ago and has not looked back.
Success has gradually been growing and growing and even getting nominated for the Ring Magazine award filled Gallagher with pride.
So to go on and be named the winner blew him away.
He added: «I was shocked when I got the call to say I had won it.
«To be the first British-born coach to get the trainer of the year award is a huge honour.
«It’s a fantastic award to be given – like a knighthood in boxing terms.
«Ring Magazine is an American publication and I think they have had something like 88 awards over the years.
«I bought the magazine years ago as a kid so to be given an award by them is incredible.
«It has still not sunk in.
«They came to the gym recently with a framed magazine cover with my picture on it.
«I don’t think I will realise what a big achievement it is for some time. I will probably step back in a few years and think ‘wow, did I really win that?’
«It’s a bit surreal to be honest.»
Surreal it may be for Gallagher; but for admirers of his hard work it is long overdue and well deserved.