Thursday, 17 May 2012

No Holds Barred Chats To Boxing's Rising Star Frank Stea

No Holds Barred: How did you get into boxing?

Frank Stea: I was a fan first and foremost. I began going to some gyms in my hometown of Philadelphia, PA. I started amateur boxing at 16 years old and compiled a 6-0 amateur record. After High School I joined the US Army and also boxed there. I was 5-0 in the Armed Forces Boxing. After some hard fights in the gym and in the amateurs, I just decided being a boxer would be beneficial to my health in the long run.

No Holds Barred: What is your role in boxing today?

Frank Stea: I'm in no way, shape or form a star but thank you for considering me one. I'm just a fan who has had the opportunity to meet and acquaint myself with the biggest names in the sport I love. I like to call myself a boxing yuppie or maybe even a socialite [laughs]. I do a radio show that features boxing talk with fighters. I've also worked with pro and amateur fighters in a managerial and training capacity in the past but I've basically stepped aside from the corrupt business side of boxing for now. Today, I play a role on the political side with some of the bigger names and promotions in the business as well as the small time groups. I help fighters and promoters today in an advisory and publicity role with my tag team partner Tim Kudgis.

No Holds Barred: You’re a strength and conditioning coach. Are you involved in training fighters right now?

Frank Stea: Right now, I work with a couple amateur fighters and prospects on the strength and conditioning side of things but nothing out of this world. I hope to expand more in the future, maybe even open up a gym.

No Holds Barred: What would you say is your long term ambition?

Frank Stea: I would love to become a boxing promoter one day. I mentioned the corruption that's involved in boxing and that kind of takes away some of that ambition. I will always be a fan though. I consider myself very fortunate as a fan because I get to rub shoulders with the biggest names in the sport.

No Holds Barred: You've worked with Floyd Mayweather Jr and Roger Mayweather. You must have learnt a lot?

Frank Stea: I took two heavyweight fighters to the Mayweather Boxing Club in 2009. They were working with Roger who was already kind of a friend to me. Roger would give me instructions for the fighters while he was handling other things. I asked Roger if I could be his assistant and learn from him. He said "no problem". Right before Floyd started camp for the Mosley fight, I was learning and helping Roger everyday and that also rolled over into when the Mosley camp began. I was invited to help out with everything for that camp. I learnt so much about boxing in general from Roger. He is one of the most knowledgeable human beings when it comes to that. These days, Roger is a little annoyed with me for whatever reason but that's just him. I befriended Jeff Mayweather shortly after. I consider Jeff a good friend and one of boxing's best professors.

No Holds Barred: How did you find the experience of working in the Mayweather camp for the Mosley fight and what was your favourite moment?

Frank Stea: Just being there was awesome. I didn't care if I was mopping sweat up off the floor or sitting on the ring apron watching Floyd Mayweather spar. Being involved is always surreal to me.

No Holds Barred: Floyd shows a certain personality to the World’s media. Is he the same off camera or does his personality change?

Frank Stea: He maintains his cocky and confident stature off camera as well. He's an A-list celebrity and athlete who is worth millions. I'm sure he feels the constant pressure to impress everywhere he is. If you get to know him on a personal level, he is a kind and generous soul but he'll make sure you don't forget he's the best fighter in the world. I can't say I wouldn't do the same if I was in his shoes.

No Holds Barred: If it happens, who wins: Floyd or Manny?
Frank Stea: Floyd would win in my opinion. It would be an exciting fight with every punch thrown having me on the edge of my seat. I think Floyd's defensive style and counter punching would be too much for Manny and the fight would end early.

No Holds Barred: What other fighters have you been involved with?

Frank Stea: I've been involved in some shape or form with quite a few fighters in one way or another. I've dealt on a professional and business level with some champions, contenders and opponent level fighters. Tim Witherspoon, Chucky T, Tony Thompson, Zahir Raheem, and so many more names that you probably wouldn’t know. Obviously getting up close and personal with all of the Mayweathers has been a blessing. I've had the opportunity to be involved with Zab Judah's camp for a couple of weeks too.

No Holds Barred: In your opinion, who is the best trainer in boxing right now?
Frank Stea: I feel personally Jeff Mayweather is. That's because I've seen his techniques up close. If you go by who has the most current champions or fighters on a P4P level, you have to go with Freddie Roach. Honourable mentions go to Roger Mayweather, Robert Garcia, Emanuel Steward and Nate Jones.

No Holds Barred: Had you always been a fan of boxing?

Frank Stea: I’ve been a fan since I was about 6 years old. So that’s about 25 years as a fan.

No Holds Barred: What was your earliest memory of the sport?

Frank Stea: My earliest memory was Mike Tyson!!! I was young and he was the craze of the sports world. I watched when he beat Trevor Berbick for the WBC title and I was hooked from then.

No Holds Barred: Who are your favourite fighters past and present?

Frank Stea: From the past, I would say Lennox Lewis, Mike Tyson, Mike McCallum, Arturo Gatti, Ray Mercer and Prince Naseem Hamed to name a few. At present, I’d say Bernard Hopkins, Floyd Mayweather Jr, Wladimir Klitschko, Yuriorkis Gamboa, J'Leon Love, Badou Jack, Ismayl Sillakh and Erislandy Lara to name a few.

No Holds Barred: As a fan of boxing, you must hate some things about the handling of the sport?

Frank Stea: The politics involved and the shady people for sure.

No Holds Barred: Do you think things like too many orgs, too many titles and awful decisions have ruined the sport somewhat?

Frank Stea: In a way it is bad. If they have the four major titles but eventually do a unification tournament with all titles included, I'd be fine with that. It would be super entertaining but instead they keep all the titles separated. There are super titles, regular titles, silver and diamond titles and other organisations popping up all the time. It becomes confusing and annoying.

No Holds Barred: Have you spoken to many fighters on the subject? What are their opinions?

Frank Stea: I've spoken to countless fighters about everything that is right and wrong about boxing. Everyone has their own opinion but almost every opinion is similar: disgust and disappointment.

No Holds Barred: You started a clothing range called ATG. How did that come about?

Frank Stea: In 2007, a few friends and I started a crew that we called ATG. We made hats and shirts. We sold a few but the clothing line didn't go far in the over saturated fight-wear market. ATG has become a lifestyle for us involved and we represent it with everything we do.

No Holds Barred: You also run a radio show called ATG. What do you discuss on your show?

Frank Stea: We discuss boxing, MMA, pro wrestling, music, politics and entertainment.

No Holds Barred: You've met a lot of famous names in boxing. Who would you say was the most famous that you've met?

Frank Stea: To be honest, because of boxing I've met Hollywood movie stars and platinum selling music artists. In boxing, obviously meeting Mike Tyson was probably the biggest deal for me. Also, meeting Lennox Lewis was equally as incredible. I played basketball with Floyd Mayweather, went to a church service in Manny Pacquiao's hotel room and even got into a public shouting match with David Haye. I've been in the right and wrong places at the right time.

No Holds Barred: You have four children: Two boys and two girls. Would you encourage them to get into boxing?

Frank Stea: Maybe my youngest son. I was away at war during my oldest child's younger years to influence him to be a fighter. He is more studious than athletic. My girl on the other hand... Basically, if they came to me and wanted to box, I would support them.

No Holds Barred: If you could have a dinner party and invite five guests, who would they be?

Frank Stea: I’d invite Floyd Mayweather Jr, Andrew Hartley, Manny Pacquiao, Mike Tyson and Charlie Zelenoff. In my own little world, it would be epic.

No Holds Barred: Where can fans find you online?

Frank Stea: I can be found primarily on Twitter!/frankstea or on my websites, and

No Holds Barred: Do you have any final words to say to the boxing community?

Frank Stea: I love boxing almost like it was one of my children. I love to discuss anything about boxing with anyone. This sport is corrupt though and those who keep saying how bad it is need to act in numbers. If you want it changed, let’s make it happen together. God bless everyone.

No Holds Barred: Thanks for talking to me, Frank.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Ring News 24 talks to super featherweight prospect Andrew Colquhoun At what age did you get into boxing? 

Andrew Colquhoun: I used to just love watching boxing when I was a kid. My granddad took me down the local gym when I was about 8 or 9 years old. I used to play football as a kid but I think I’d always wanted to be a boxer more. I realised I wanted to be a boxer at about 16 or 17 though. That’s when I became serious. Can you tell us about your amateur career? 

Andrew Colquhoun: I had about 45 fights as an amateur. Last season I reached the semi-finals of the ABAs and then decided to turn professional after that. Why did you decide to turn professional just a year before the Olympics? 

Andrew Colquhoun: Well, I never had a chance of going to the Olympics. I hadn’t boxed for England before and there were quite a lot of people in front of me to qualify. I think my style also suits the professional ranks more so than the amateurs so I thought it would be best to turn pro now. This year is a big year for Team GB at the Olympics. Do you know any members of the team?

Andrew Colquhoun: Yeah, I know Tom Stalker quite well. We both trained in Salisbury and I know him from there. Do you think we will be celebrating a big medal haul come the end of the games? 

Andrew Colquhoun: Yeah, I think so. The team that’s been assembled looks like a big strong squad so I hope so. What are the main differences between the amateur and pro game in your opinion? 

Andrew Colquhoun: It’s like two completely different sports really. In the amateurs I’d say it’s more just about the scoring and throwing as many shots as you can to win the round. Whereas I’d say at professional level it’s about taking your time, throwing more powerful punches, working on your strength and a lot more one-on-one training. It’s harder work and your coach is always on your back whereas in the amateurs you train in big squads so there’s less one-on-one work. Do you have a boxing nickname? 

Andrew Colquhoun: No, not at the moment. People keep throwing names at me but nothing seems to have stuck yet. You're currently at super featherweight. Are you comfortable at the weight or do you think a move up in weight could be on the cards sooner rather than later? 

Andrew Colquhoun: At the moment I’m comfortable at the weight. I think I’m still growing though so eventually I will probably end up moving up in weight. At the moment I’m happy at the weight though. I was at featherweight last year so I’ve gone up a bit already since turning pro. You're trained by Dave Tonks. Does he think you need improving on many things or does he think you just need to gain some professional experience? 

Andrew Colquhoun: He’s always trying to make me improve on everything. Every day in the gym we do something new. So I think there’s always something new to be learned but I do need the experience because ring experience is important. Fighting every 7 or 8 weeks over the next year would be good. Who are your regular sparring partners? 

Andrew Colquhoun: Most of the time I spar Steve Williams. He’s fighting for the British title against Ashley Theophane in a few weeks. I also spar Dave’s son Joe Tonks regularly too. You've spoken before about feeling that you need to excite the fans. Do you think your style of boxing is more important than getting the win no matter what? 

Andrew Colquhoun: Well, it’s important when you need to sell tickets. You do need to perform well so that your fans want to come back to watch you. I think if you just try to get the win and not worry about your performance not many people will want to keep watching you. I think you need to throw more shots and maybe even take some so the crowd gets the excitement and hopefully more people come to watch you. Do you think that could have an adverse effect on your career or are you a naturally exciting fighter anyway?

Andrew Colquhoun: I think I’m probably naturally exciting anyway because I like to go forward, I like to throw punches and I don’t mind taking them either. I like going forward and pressuring my opponents although I can box on the back foot as well. You've already fought on cards featuring the likes of Derry Matthews, Emiliano Marsili, Tony Dodson, Tony Bellew, Danny McIntosh, John Watson and Jason Cook. How have you found the experience of fighting on cards with such high level professionals? 

Andrew Colquhoun: It’s been good, I enjoy it. I’ve fought in some good places so far and they’ve been busy because of the main fights which have been on the cards. It’s good fighting on the bigger cards and hopefully I can get bigger fights and appear on more. It must be a great feeling to feature on cards along side such high calibre fighters?

Andrew Colquhoun: Yeah, I’ve watched Tony Bellew fight in the Echo Arena and then next time he fought there I fought there myself on the undercard. I’ve also watched Derry Matthews over the years and now featured on his undercard and I’ve watched Tony Dodson and featured on his undercard too. It’s great experience. Have they offered you any advice? 

Andrew Colquhoun: Well, I speak to Derry Matthews anyway. I sparred with him for my last fight. I’m good friends with him and he’s always offering me advice. I spoke to Tony Dodson before my last fight and he wished me luck. What did you think of Derry Matthews’ great win over Anthony Crolla recently?

Andrew Colquhoun: To be honest I thought Derry might have been too strong for him. He’s a big, strong lightweight so I thought he’d have a great chance against him. You're coming off of a win over Dan Naylor on the undercard of Tony Bellew’s British title defence against Danny McIntosh. How did preparation for that fight go? 

Andrew Colquhoun: It went great. I didn’t suffer any injuries in the time I was training and had some good, hard sparring sessions. I didn’t miss a day’s training or a day’s running. Preparation was perfect really. You knocked him out with a peach of a left hook in the 4th and final round. Were you surprised at how perfect that punch was?

Andrew Colquhoun: I think I caught him just right. I wasn’t really surprised about the shot I threw because we’ve been working on those kinds of shots in the gym. I was surprised he was down for so long though. Naylor hadn't been stopped in 11 fights prior to that, so you must have some power?

Andrew Colquhoun: I’ve seen Dan Naylor fight before a good few times and he lost a few fights where he should have probably got the decision. I knew it was going to be a hard fight so we’d prepared to beat him on points so it was a bonus that I got the knockout against him. I suppose winning by knockout isn’t necessarily the most important thing at this stage of your career though because it’s good to get the rounds under your belt?

Andrew Colquhoun: Yeah, it doesn’t really matter as long as you keep winning, that’s the most important thing. It’s important to keep winning, especially early on, as you can’t afford to slip up. Ideally, how many more fights would you like to have this year? 

Andrew Colquhoun: I’ve got another fight on the 11th May and then another in August hopefully and then maybe again in October. So hopefully I’ll have at least another 3 or 4 fights this year. You're 20 years old and are a highly rated prospect. Do you feel any pressure to succeed or do you just feel that you can take everything one step at a time? 

Andrew Colquhoun: I’ve got the right people around me like my manager and coach who always keep me on track and don’t let me get ahead of myself. I got my family around me too and they put me in my place so I don’t think I’ll get too big headed. I think early on some guys might feel a bit of pressure because it’s important to make sure you win but to be honest I don’t really feel the pressure. Have you set yourself any goals? 

Andrew Colquhoun: My first target from the beginning was to reach 10-0 and then see where I’m up to and what options are open to me. Do you watch boxing away from the ring?

Andrew Colquhoun: I stopped watching boxing for a few years but I’ve started getting into it again. Which fighters do you like? 

Andrew Colquhoun: I love watching the Mexican fighters like Julio Cesar Chavez on DVD. I liked watching Ricky Hatton too. I’ve been to see him live a few times. I love watching exciting fighters who come forward and throw great body shots. I like watching Mayweather Jr too. Which fights are you looking forward to?

Andrew Colquhoun: I’m looking forward to the big fight this weekend between Mayweather and Cotto. Also, Froch vs Bute will be a good fight too. Khan vs Peterson should be good too. What is the worst part of being a boxer in your opinion? 

Andrew Colquhoun: Probably when your mates phone you at the weekend to ask you to go for a drink or something to eat but you can’t. You just have to stay in and watch the TV. I don’t see it as a bad thing though really because I want boxing to be a big part of my life. If you had not become a boxer, do you know what you would have done? 

Andrew Colquhoun: To be honest, I wouldn’t have a clue. After school, I didn’t go to college and just did a few part time jobs. Are you a Liverpool or Everton fan?

Andrew Colquhoun: Everton. How well will they do next year? 

Andrew Colquhoun: I don’t know how much higher we can finish. Not sure we can finish above 7th really because we don’t have the money and there’s too many clubs above us with more money than us. It must be frustrating as a fan considering how well Everton have done under manager David Moyes in the last decade with a small budget?

Andrew Colquhoun: Yeah, it is. We’ve finished in the top eight on seven occasions under Moyes. I think if we had more money he’d push us up the table a bit. Liverpool vs Chelsea, FA Cup final: Who wins and what will the score be?

Andrew Colquhoun: I think Chelsea will win 3-0. I just think they have a better team. Do you have a message for the fans?

Andrew Colquhoun: Just keep watching and let’s hope the knockouts keep coming. Hopefully the future will be a big success too. Thanks for talking to us Andrew.

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Joe Hanks talks to Ring News 24 about his career so far You've fought once already this year, defeating Rafael Pedro in just two rounds. What are your plans for the rest of this year? 

Joe Hanks: I’m fighting Marcus Rhode next on April 27th. I just want to keep getting more experience and potentially get a title fight by say 2013. Maybe even get over to the UK. You got some good fans over there. Have you had any offers to fight over here?

Joe Hanks: I haven’t had any discussion about it but I’d love to. Boxing is huge overseas right now. You guys have some great fighters over there and put on some great shows and guys are even coming over here and making a lot of noise. I’d love to come over there. Great fans, great environment, I think it would be a great experience for me. In your opinion, has your progression been good so far or perhaps a little too slow? 

Joe Hanks: I think my progression’s been great so far. As an athlete I always want to do more and push harder. I’m definitely a force to be reckoned with. I think I’m just starting to hit my stride and really getting better. I now know myself more as a fighter and really believe in how far I can go. You've done well in your 19 pro fights. When do you plan to make an impact at World level? 

Joe Hanks: I think 2013 will be an ideal year for me. This year, 2012, is the year I think I will be mentioned amongst the good fighters here and overseas. I want my name to be mentioned among that group and make people say this guy is going to make some noise. That’s what this year is about. Then going into 2013 will be when I think I’ll be in a position to win a World title. You're only 29 which is still very young for a heavyweight contender and your nickname is 'The Future'. Do you see yourself as having a big future for years to come? 

Joe Hanks: Yeah, I think I can. I think the sky’s the limit for me. I’m 6ft4, 250lbs, I’m a professional in every sense of the word, I train hard, I rest and I don’t party or drink. I think the future for me is going to be real bright. I think the only person who can stop me is me. The US Heavyweight scene hasn't been as strong as it has been historically. Do you see yourself as the man to take US heavyweight boxing back to the top? 

Joe Hanks: I see myself as an American heavyweight who can do some things on the big stage. I think there’s a few of us and with the American scene being the way it is right now I think it will be even more worthwhile when we do break out and show how good we are. I think it’s good for us being the underdog right now. There was a time when American heavyweights ruled the division and people just expected them to be number one and do big things. Now people don’t expect us to do anything. So I get to sneak up and prove some things as the underdog. Do you think being the underdog is a positive thing as it takes a lot of the expectations off of your shoulders?

Joe Hanks: I look at it as a positive for sure. When you mention the American heavyweights over to guys overseas like in Europe, they might just chuckle a little bit and think we’re not going to do anything. For me, that makes it better because nobody is expecting anything from us. I mean if I go in there and blow somebody out of the water I think it will be a big deal because I wouldn’t have been expected to do that. I would have been expected to either get knocked out or not look good so I get to creep up like an assassin. There are a few other US contenders like Chris Arreola, Eddie Chambers, Seth Mitchell and Deontay Wilder. Are you looking to fight those guys now? 

Joe Hanks: Honestly speaking, if it comes down to it I’ll do it but I’m not that interested in fighting these small little battles when Americans are losing the war in boxing. I mean we could fight each other, beat each other but there’s no real significance in it. I think it really comes down to us going overseas and competing against those guys over there. You got guys like Tyson Fury, Alexander Povetkin and loads of other fighters with good records. I think that’s where the real significant fights are. I don’t really have a lot of interest in fighting the guys in my backyard. If it comes down to it, so be it, but I think there’s a bigger picture we need to go after. It does seem that the Americans and British heavyweights are happy to receive their World title shots whilst many European fighters seem to be shying away from the spotlight.

Joe Hanks: Well, I think for a while the idea has been to get a guy to the point where his record looks good enough to fight for a title whether he’s ready or not. Guys like Arreola, Thompson and Chambers have been pros for a long time and had the chance to develop to a stage they were ready to challenge for a title and be competitive. Whereas I think a lot of the guys in central Europe seem to keep trying to build up their records and maybe even waiting for one of the Klitschkos to retire so they can sneak in. A guy like Chisora was what 14-2 when he fought Vitali which is just unheard of to get a title shot but that’s the state of the heavyweight division. But he put on a really good performance. What did you think of the brawl in Germany between Dereck Chisora and David Haye? Was it good or bad for boxing?

Joe Hanks: In the UK, I think it makes for a very interesting showdown between the two. I want to see the fight. People weren’t even talking about Chisora not long ago and now everybody wants to see what he’s going to do next. You're from New Jersey but you rarely get to fight there as you have mostly fought in New York and California. Why is that? 

Joe Hanks: I live in California now so that caused me to build my name up on the west coast. There just weren’t a lot of opportunities really for me to get to fight in New Jersey. Eventually, I’d love to get back home and fight there. Why did you move to California? 

Joe Hanks: Training reasons and to advance my career really. An opportunity presented itself, me and my team talked about it, decided it was a good idea and jumped on it. Who is your trainer?

Joe Hanks: Jamal Abdullah. He’s been with me since the amateurs. We’re both looking for the opportunity to make a name for ourselves. With coaches, it really only takes one fighter to get up there and win a World title and that opens the doors for them in terms of building their names and clientele so I’d like to be that guy for my coach. You're 6ft4 tall. Do you see your height as being a valuable asset in your heavyweight career, especially considering heavyweights seem to be getting taller every year? 

Joe Hanks: I think it’s a great asset. I’m not too tall, I’m not too short. It allows me to adjust in the ring. When you’re 6ft6 or 6ft7 you’re taught to use range and fight on the outside. When you’re 5ft11 or 6ft tall you’re taught to fight on the inside, bring pressure and come forward. I’m in the middle so I’m taught to do both. I can be very versatile. Take David Haye when he fought Wladimir Klitschko. He was able to make him miss a lot but he wasn’t quite big enough to make him pay. I’m a few inches taller than him and probably 20-30lbs heavier than him and I’m equally as fast. How would you describe your style to a person who may not have seen you fight yet? 

Joe Hanks: I’m a boxer puncher and extremely adjustable. I’m a counter puncher who can bring it to you. I can be rangy if I need to be, I can keep you on the outside or I can come to you or I can stand right in front of you and make you miss. That’s the beauty with my height, I can adjust well and as I get older I‘m going to keep sharpening it up. Can you tell us about your amateur career? 

Joe Hanks: In the States it’s really hard for a super heavyweight to find fights so I only had about 25 amateur fights. I became a top 10 in the country. I actually got my experience from being in camps with the professionals while still an amateur. I’ve been boxing Wladimir Klitschko since I had 6 amateur fights. I’ve also boxed Chris Byrd, Sultan Ibragimov, Lamon Brewster and Jameel McCline all before I’d even turned pro. I’ve even trained next to Evander Holyfield and watched him prepare for fights. How has that experience benefitted your career? 

Joe Hanks: I got a lot of experience from being in camp with these top fighters. I’ve been around a lot of pros and learnt so much from these guys. I’m a gym rat. My amateur career really has been all about spending time around these top fighters. I’ve worked closely with Jameel McCline and Chris Byrd. Chris has been mentoring through the pros. I call him up and he gives me advice and has been a great part of my career. I think it’s easy to forget that even if a fighter hasn’t fought a large amount of World level opponents in his career, he is still surrounded by those types of fighters in the gym and learning from them on a daily basis.

Joe Hanks: Yeah, and I don’t have as much pressure on me either so I get to fly under the radar. I talk to guys who have fought the Klitschkos and other top fighters and I get to talk to these guys and I just sit back and listen and that gives me more confidence in my own career. Do you think the amateur scene is as competitive as the professional scene?

Joe Hanks: Yeah, some of my most competitive fights were at amateur level. I mean the national tournaments are contested by the toughest guys from each state and they all want to represent their state well. I think some amateur fights are probably more competitive than many pro fights. Do you have any theories on why the American amateur set up isn’t as successful now as years gone by?

Joe Hanks: I think it’s a mixture of things. We don’t have the funding at amateur level here as some other countries do. I mean you’re working a full time job over here while trying to fight too. It’s tough. Also, we have so many other options like American football, baseball, basketball and hockey which are glamorous sports which many people follow. We don’t have boxing in many of the school systems so it’s very hard to get a college scholarship for boxing. I was one step from homeless when I was boxing as an amateur. I mean you got to work to eat and then go to the gym to train and you’re competing against guys in other countries whose job it is to train. Other countries have amateur programs where they’re taught boxing, are funded, have housing and are just kids. That’s what we’re competing against. Do you know when the funding in the USA for amateurs stopped?

Joe Hanks: I’m not sure there’s ever been funding. I know that for a kid here in the USA it’s extremely hard for him to have an honest shot at it. If you’re young you have school, you have to support yourself and you’re competing against guys who don’t just have wages but they also have nutritionists, they don’t have to worry about day-to-day necessities like rent and food. They’re already professionals in a sense. Even a lot of professionals over here have to work because they don’t have a great promotional deal. So in that sense it’s even more amazing that American fighters managed to win medals at amateur level.

Joe Hanks: Exactly. But at that time we were on top of boxing. Everyone was boxing. We had a lot of fighters, a lot of quality sparring, a lot of experience and guys from overseas were the underdogs. But, what did those underdogs do? They got back in the gyms; they got better on the skill side, better on the nutrition side, better on the points scoring side and better equipped to win. We might have been more athletic but overseas fighters made up for it on work ethic. Now the tables are turned, I’m the underdog now and I’m looking to get better. Are you a fan of past heavyweight eras? Who is your favourite heavyweight of the past? 

Joe Hanks: I’m a huge fan of Muhammad Ali and Larry Holmes. I mean who doesn’t love Muhammad Ali? But, I’m also a huge fan of the smaller guys like Sugar Ray Leonard, Tommy Hearns and Marvin Hagler. I watch the small weight divisions most of all. What do you think of the dominance of the Klitschko brothers? Do you think they are worthy heavyweight champions?

Joe Hanks: I think they’re worthy champions. We can’t discredit them for being so big and strong and being so good at what they do. Of course it’s going to hurt boxing when somebody wins so much because I think people start to get tired of seeing them win. As for their style, for them it’s awesome but for other people maybe it’s a bit boring because people want to see knockdowns and competitive action. It’s not their fault that their opponents can’t put up much of a fight though. Who do you blame?

Joe Hanks: I blame Lennox Lewis! He was so big, strong and dominant I think people went out to find a big guy to mimic Lennox. But I think they just found these big Lennox type guys who don’t have the tools Lennox had but they are so big and rangy it’s almost impossible for some guys to even get in there and mix it up with them. Dereck Chisora showed he could mix it up with taller heavyweights but he couldn’t beat Vitali. I think when the Klitschkos are gone maybe we won’t see these giant heavyweights anymore because smaller heavyweights will fancy their chances. I suppose it’s easier to stick another giant heavyweight in there with one of the Klitschkos and hope for the best.

Joe Hanks: Yeah but even some of these 6ft6 and 6ft7 guys just aren’t as talented as the Klitschkos. The Klitschkos are very strong, fast and smart. You can’t just find any tall guy and hope he’s going to do something. I believe that if the Klitschkos were any other nationality they’d be just as big in that country as they are in the Ukraine. What do you think?

Joe Hanks: I agree. In Germany they sell out 50,000-60,000 seater soccer stadiums. I think if they were American they’d have rooms at the White House! They would be like what Manny Pacquiao is to the Philippines. After the Klitschkos go, how do you see the heavyweight landscape?

Joe Hanks: I think initially it might be a bit chaotic but I think it will be a lot more competitive. I think the titles could be unified again but may take a little time. Thanks for talking to us Joe and best of luck in your career.

Joe Hanks: No problem man. Thanks for taking the time to talk to me. I appreciate it.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Ring News 24 talks to Alex Daley about his book "Nipper: The amazing story of boxing's wonderboy" How did you come to know about your grandfather's boxing past? 

Alex Daley: I had always known he was a boxer but as a kid growing up it didn’t really interest me as preferred football. I knew he had been a famous boxer many years ago but that was about it. Perhaps had he been a famous footballer I’d have taken more of an interest. It wasn’t until I was in my late teens or early 20s that I really started to read up on his career and discovered just how exceptional he was and my interest grew from there. Did your family ever speak to you about him and his career?

Alex Daley: No, not really. Nobody suggested I should write a book about him or anything. I just kind of took it upon myself one day to learn more about him. I didn’t grow up hearing tales about him or anything like that. I discovered more about him on my own. Can you tell us a bit about his career? Why did he become a professional so early?

Alex Daley: Back in those days the sport was very poorly regulated. The British Boxing Board of Control as we know it today was created in 1929 and even then it was very slow to take effect and get a grip on the sport so pretty much anything went. There were very few rules governing the sport and there was nothing to stop kids in their early teens or even younger from entering into professional contests. Around the age of 8 or 9 Nipper went to a boxing gym in Marylebone where he lived which was run by one of the most famous trainers and managers in the country, a man called professor Andrew Newton. He started taking boxing lessons and it quickly became apparent that he had an exceptional gift for boxing. His first contest was a paid fight. He would have been fighting early on in 4 or 6 round fights for only a few shillings and he’d fight for “nobbings” which were coins thrown into the ring by spectators if they appreciated the boxing on display. The kids would divide the money up and that’s how he got paid. Spectators threw coins into the ring? That’s incredible. Did anyone ever get hit by any coins?

Alex Daley: I haven’t read about anyone being hit by coins but you would imagine it would be pretty hazardous. This happened pretty early on in his career when his purses would have been very small and he’d fight for nobbings on top of that. Later on he earned bigger purses. Did he want to become a boxer or was he perhaps forced into it?

Alex Daley: No, he wasn’t forced into it. I think he had to nag his dad to take him along. He wanted to learn to box and loved the sport. I don’t think he was that concerned about the money at the time. I think he just loved beating other guys in the ring and the money was a nice by-product of that. Was that quite a common occurrence at the time? 

Alex Daley: Yeah, it was quite common. Look at some other names around at the time like Len Harvey who I think turned pro at around 11 or 12, Jack “Kid” Berg was 14 or 15 I think and Teddy Baldock was about 12 or 13 too. My grandfather was slightly younger than those guys when he started out so it was pretty unusual but not an exception. Presumably he didn't have much of an amateur career considering he became pro so young? 

Alex Daley: No, he didn’t have any amateur fights at all. Obviously he sparred a lot in the gym and did a lot of training but his first bout was a professional one. Why didn’t he have an amateur career, even just a short one?

Alex Daley: I think it would have been good for him to have been an amateur and would have probably benefitted him to have been an amateur until he was 16 or 18. I think he said himself if he could have done it all over again, he wouldn’t have become a professional until he was 18. But, it wasn’t such a big deal back in those days for people. Kids could have pro fights very early on and nobody would really object and I guess his manager thought it was a good idea to get him earning money from the off. How would you describe his boxing style? 

Alex Daley: He was a brilliant boxer with a piston-like straight left as they called it then. We’d call it a left jab today. He had phenomenally fast hand speed and footwork. He was great at long range boxing which was his forte but press reports I’ve read say he was an expert in-fighter too, so he could do it all. The thing is a lot of guys who get described as being brilliant boxers can be a bit boring to watch. They can be a bit negative or always fight on the back foot. Nipper was very exciting to watch. He was an aggressive, attacking fighter as well. He knew every trick, feint and move in boxing and despite his young age he had a really cool head and brilliant boxing brain. He would often get compared to a veteran. He had this baby face as he was just a kid, but he had this ring sense of somebody a lot older than him. The only thing that was missing from his arsenal was a knockout punch because he would win most of his fights on points but I think that had a lot to do with his age and the fact he was fighting guys a lot older and naturally stronger than him. I think in time he would have developed a knockout punch. Nipper often fought as many as 20 bouts or more a year. Why did he fight so regularly? 

Alex Daley: That was more or less normal at that time. Boxing was far more popular in Britain back then. If you consider how popular football is today, boxing had a similar popularity back in the 1920s. There was a great demand for it. Also, there wasn’t satellite TV etc back then so people went to live sporting events more often. I mean there were boxing shows put on in towns all over the country regularly. So they needed boxers a lot more and as a result some fighters would often fight almost every week sometimes. It was a bit unusual for somebody as young as Nipper to fight at that age though. Typically a 15/16 year old, as he was in 1929 when he had 33 fights, wouldn’t be having that many fights in a year and certainly not 15 round fights so that was unusual. But, for older guys it wouldn’t have been unusual. Do you have any theories as to why boxing popularity has dwindled in recent decades?

Alex Daley: I think probably because of a number of different things. The popularity of cinema initially. “Talking pictures” as they were called back then had started up and they were very popular. Also, the rise of other sports had an impact. Sports like football started to become more popular. Also, sports which aren’t around so much today like speedway were extremely popular at one time. All-In wrestling was very popular in Britain too and athletics was also very big for a time. So these things took fans away from boxing. Also, living standards for working class people were improving so young guys didn’t have to go out and box to earn money as there were other options open to them. So I think all of these things combined led to the decline of boxing’s popularity. Another thing was that in the early 1950s there was an entertainment tax introduced by the government. I can’t remember how much it was but it was extremely high. A lot of the boxing was operated on small profit margins so a lot of promoters couldn’t afford to make a profit anymore and went out of business so that also killed boxing off a little too. At just 14 years old he served as a sparring partner to the legendary middleweight Mickey Walker who was preparing for a title defence against Scotland's Tommy Milligan. How did that come about?

Alex Daley: Walker’s training camp was near Hampton Court, so Nipper went along to spar with him but his manager Jack Kearns, who was a big name in the boxing World at the time, said he wasn’t going to allow a 14 year old to spar the World middleweight champion. Nipper’s manager had to negotiate with him a bit to get him to change his mind. Walker came over to see what the issue was and said that he would spar with the kid last to speed him up but he’d better be fast. So my grandfather sat there and watched Walker spar with his usual sparring partners. I suppose most kids would have been in awe of such a great boxer but Nipper was actually looking for flaws in Walker’s game and he spotted something. Apparently Walker had a signature move where he would sway backwards; make his opponents miss and then land a counter right hand. My grandfather noticed he would leave himself exposed when doing this. When Nipper got in with him, he feinted with his left hand, Walker drew back defenceless and Nipper followed through with a perfect right cross and smacked Walker on the chin. I don’t think it hurt Walker because of the size and age difference but Walker stopped sparring and patted him on the back. How famous was Mickey Walker back then?

Alex Daley: Walker was an icon back in the 1920s especially when you consider how popular boxing was back then and considering there were only 8 weight classes and one World champion at each weight. Walker was a hero all around the World, so his arrival in Britain was a huge event and him defending his title here was probably the biggest sporting event in Britain of the 1920s. So it was a great honour for a 14 year old to spar with him. Do you know if Walker was amazed at how good Nipper was for his age? 

Alex Daley: Yeah, apparently Walker and Kearns were very impressed with him. I’ve got a cutting from “Boxing”, the forerunner to “Boxing News”, saying that Kearns turned up to his gym in Marylebone to watch him train and sang his praises to the press and actually wanted to take Nipper back to the USA but my grandfather’s manager wouldn’t allow it. By the time he was a teenager he had already beaten many of Europe's finest boxers, many of whom would go on to win domestic and European honours. Why didn't Nipper receive a title shot of his own? 

Alex Daley: Well, he was growing all the time so was moving from one weight class to another. He came very close to a British flyweight title fight with a guy called Johnny Hill. He’d already beaten the number one contender at the time, Bert Kirby. They were in negotiation apparently but I’m not sure Hill actually wanted to fight him. Before the fight could even be signed Nipper was already a bantamweight. By the time he reached 16, he was considered the number one contender for the British bantamweight title which was held by a great fighter called Teddy Baldock. My grandfather had already beaten the previous title holder Alf Kid Pattenden and pretty much every bantamweight of note in the country. So really he should have had a shot at Baldock but the board of control at that time introduced a new rule restricting the age of British title challengers so that dashed his hope of challenging for a title. He was allowed to fight 15 round fights but suddenly wasn’t eligible to challenge for titles. I’m not sure about the situation in Europe and whether he could have challenged for a European title though. He did challenge the European champion at the time but he didn’t seem to want to fight my grandfather. Do you think it was easy for fighters to avoid a fight with Nipper because of his age?

Alex Daley: No, not by that time because he was so well respected I don’t think that would have washed. He was beating national champions at the time. He beat the reigning champions of Italy, Germany and Belgium so I don’t think the excuse that he was too young would have been believed. It was a terrible double standard by the BBBoC to not allow Nipper to fight for a title but would allow him to fight the top names in the sport.

Alex Daley: Yeah, it was. There was a need for some new rules so at face value it was a sensible rule. But not when you’re allowing him to beat all the top names at the time but not allowing him the honour of fighting for a title. Why did they introduce the new rule regarding the age of title challengers?

Alex Daley: I’m not exactly sure why. I can only imagine the sport was wildly out of control so they were introducing rules to properly assert their authority but perhaps some of the rules just weren’t properly thought out. I know boxing publication “Boxing” were up in arms about it saying how Nipper was the best boxer around and beating all of these great fighters but suddenly he can’t fight for a title. At 16, he received a World title offer. Why didn't a World title fight materialise? 

Alex Daley: A fight against Battling Battalino, an American who had just won the World featherweight title, was talked about. By then Nipper was ranked in the World’s top 10 by the Ring magazine and his fame was spreading across the Atlantic. An offer arrived but his manager told him he wasn’t going to allow him to go to the USA to fight for it. I don’t think he ever gave him a good reason why but I know my grandfather believed that his manager was concerned about losing him to an American manager.  He didn’t have Nipper under a proper contract so I think he did fear losing him to a manager in the USA. Was there no way for Nipper to get out of his contract with the 'Professor'? 

Alex Daley: Well, they actually went to court over it in the end. When Nipper finally left his manager he took him to court but the judge found the contract wasn’t legally binding and I imagine his manager knew that. It was basically a hand written contract that Nipper had signed at a very young age. So Nipper could have probably left his manager all along?

Alex Daley: Yeah, as it turned out I think he could have probably done as he pleased because I don’t think the contract was legally enforceable but he didn’t know that at the time as he was just a kid and I imagine he had a great deal of trust in his mentor and wouldn’t have gone against him. Why did Nipper retire so young? Was he simply too worn out for the sport having fought so many bouts in such a short time?

Alex Daley: I think all of the work he had done in the ring and the strain of making weight certainly took its toll. He had a very strict diet to try to make weight which was at a time when his body was naturally trying to grow. Also, in one particular fight he had concussion but was put into the ring so that wasn’t good for him. I think he just couldn’t keep producing the ring performances he was famous for and perhaps he knew he wasn’t going to win a World title at that point so that probably helped him decide too. When you look at his last few contests, they’re all wins but not the level of opponents he had fought in his prime and when you read the ring reports they say he was a shadow of his former self. I guess he was burnt out by the age of 17. Did he ever plan to return to the ring? Why didn’t he?

Alex Daley: Yeah, that was always his plan. He never said he was retiring and that was that. I’ve found various references to him getting ready to get back in the ring. I think he would have been at middleweight and probably ended up at light heavyweight. But it never happened. I think he must have realised the old magic was no longer there. What did Nipper do after he retired? 

Alex Daley: By the time he finished boxing in the early 1930s, the great depression had just hit and millions were unemployed. So I think he just found work doing whatever he could like labouring. By the late 30s All-In-Wrestling was very popular and he did that for about 2 years I think. Later he ran an Irish dance hall and some other odd jobs. But one thing he always did was train boxers. It was always his dream to find somebody who could become World champion that he should have been himself. He never quite found that person but for most of his life he trained boxers. Did you ever get to talk to him about his amazing career? 

Alex Daley: No, unfortunately I was only 7 years old when he died. I vaguely remember him but I never spoke to him about boxing because I wasn’t interested in boxing at the time. Have family members and friends spoken to you about him?

Alex Daley: Yeah, when I was researching the book I spoke to family members about him and tracked down a few people who knew him and managed to learn more about him. Why do you think he isn't as famous in boxing circles as other contemporaries of the time? 

Alex Daley: Well, he never won a World title. When you remember other fighters of the time, most of them did go on to win World titles. Also, aside from the real hardcore followers of the sport, how many modern fans have heard of great boxers of the 1920s like Ted “Kid” Lewis or Jack “Kid” Berg? I suspect some people have heard his name but not so much about his career. Also, unlike somebody like an author whose work we can enjoy forever, a boxer’s performances from that long ago are all lost when his career is over. Occasionally you might find some grainy footage but it never really does them justice. What inspired you to write a book about him? 

Alex Daley: The more I researched about his career and the more I read up about him, the more fascinated I became and thought this is such a terrific story it needs to be told. In the end I thought I had to get it down in a book. Did you have any previous experience as an author? 

Alex Daley: This was my first book. The last few jobs I’ve done have involved writing so I had a little bit of experience but I had never attempted anything like writing a book before. How long did it take to write your book? 

Alex Daley: I suppose the research took longer than the actual writing. It’s hard to say really. Initially, I was doing it at weekends and took some time out of work. I suppose I could say it took a year to actually write it and then there was a lot of rewriting involved. I started it, finished it and then I went back and read some of the early chapters and thought they were awful so I rewrote most of those until I was satisfied with it. It must have taken a lot of time to do the research. Can you tell us about how you went about doing much of the research?

Alex Daley: I searched around online for information and resources but the bulk of my research was done at the British Newspaper Library. I was introduced to a guy called Miles Templeton who is a British boxing historian. By the time I contacted him I had already done a lot of research and had tracked down a lot of the records of Nipper’s opponents, but I was missing quite a few. To really write about him I needed to know what his own opponents had done in their careers too and Boxrec doesn’t have all of their records. When I spoke to Miles he said he could pretty much give me the lot [all of Nipper’s opponents’ records] so he was a great help. With the success of your first book, do you plan to write more boxing books?

Alex Daley: Yeah, I’d definitely like to. It’s just very time consuming. It’s difficult to find the time for it. I think I will write another book, possibly on the history of boxing or some element of it but I’m not sure when that would be. I’ve got a few ideas in mind. How can we check out your work?

Alex Daley: You can read my book “Nipper: The Amazing Story of Boxing’s Wonderboy” which details my grandfather’s career but also covers the sport in between the two World wars which is a fascinating period. I’ve tried to bring it to life as much as possible. If you’re interested in getting my book you can do so by going to Also, if you have a general interest in boxing history you can check out the website Miles Templeton and I are working on which is Eventually we are going to have every British champion’s record on there. You can find a lot of the post-war records online but many of the earlier records are impossible to come by. Thanks for talking to us Alex. It’s been a pleasure.