Coronavirus has already dealt a blow to Newcastle Big Issue vendor Earl John Charlton after it forced him to cancel his charity boxing match to raise money for Cancer Research UK.
But Earl remains bullish even during the lockdown and is continuing to train at home to ensure he will come out the other side fighting – and ready to get in the ring at a later date.
Popular seller Earl, who has become a fixture of Newcastle’s Central Station in his years selling the magazine, was due to put on the gloves on March 21 after he raised £775 in memory of his father and uncle.
It’s really nice and it really lightens the heart that so many people are thinking about you at this time
Now the Newcastle vendor, 41, is throwing himself into a training regime while he is stuck in self-isolation to ensure he his fitter than ever for the rescheduled bout.
Earl told The Big Issue: “I was devastated that the fight was postponed. I’ve lost so many family members to cancer and so many friends. I was also doing it for a personal challenge too.
“Living life the way have addiction and street life, I wanted to do it to make sure I was capable of doing this sort of thing but also to show that people can turn it around and can do positive things.
“I’m fitter than I thought I was, I’ve really surprised myself. It’s still going to happen but the bonus of all this is that I’m going to be fitter than I was for the fight originally.
“I’ve been doing close quarters workouts at home, with dips off the chair, using my dumb bells, sit-ups, push-ups, leg raises, squats, star jumps – it sounds like a bit of an earthquake in the next room! It just passes the time as well, you have to sit back and think positive.”
The Big Issue magazine is read by an estimated 379,195 people across the UK and circulates 82,294 copies every week.
As well as focusing on his upcoming fight, Earl’s mind is also on his customers who are not able to visit him on his pitch.
Many of his customers have rallied around Earl at this difficult time and many supported his attempts to set up his own subscriptions for them in the weeks ahead of the virus lockdown.
And Earl’s friends from the Lindisfarne Festival, where he sold the magazine last year, have donated food to tide him over as he is experiencing a drop of income while he is unable to sell the magazine.
The vendor insists he is “overwhelmed by the support” that he has received as Pasta Station from Newcastle Central also gave him leftover bags of lentils and rice after they were forced to close.
“It’s testing times for us all. In 15 years of me selling The Big Issue I’ve been putting that tabard on every morning and the morning after we stopped selling I didn’t know what to do with myself,” he added. “I’ve been trying to get myself in a set routine. For me, isolation isn’t a problem because I have been isolated from society with 25 years spent on the street and time spent in prison.
“I’m not just missing my customers, many of them have become personal friends. When I’m at the station, not five minutes goes by without me saying hello to someone or having a chat.
“I’ve got such a strong network from LNER staff to Northern staff to Cross Country, Transpennine Express. Every day would be different, the days used to fly by.
“It’s really nice and it really lightens the heart that so many people are thinking about you at this time.”