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Green Light in the City

Interview: Carl Froch

7 December 08 interview: Jared Wilson
photos: David Bowen

The legendary British Boxer, in a LeftLion interview from 2005...

Carl Froch photos by David Bowen for LeftLion. Please do not use without prior permission.

Carl Froch is the the best boxer that Nottingham has produced in some time. Now undefeated in sixteen fights, having won twelve of them by knockouts, he currently holds the British and Commonwealth titles. At the age of 27 he appears unphased by the temptations of drugs and crime that have hindered the careers of other recent talented boxers from the city. I met up with Carl at his family pub in Carlton, just before he had begun training for his recent fight at the Ice Arena against Matthew Barney. He told me there and then that he was going to destroy his opponent and when I went to watch him a month later he proceeded to do so, despite breaking his hand in the fifth round.

What were you like as a kid growing up in Nottingham?
I grew up in Colwick and went to St Johns infant school in Valeside gardens. I was mischievous. I used to like fighting...

Were you the hardest in the school?
Not really. I was quite small and skinny right up until I left senior school. It’s hard to keep your attention in them days though. There was always something flying at the back of your head or whatever.

When did you first realize that you wanted to be a professional boxer?
Well, my dad was a boxer. He boxed at a borstal and when I was young he had a bag hanging up in the garage. I went down to my local amateur boxing club when I was ten. (the Phoenix ABC in Gedling) and that was when I first started training properly. I had my first fight at the age of eleven, which is the youngest that they allow. You can’t really hurt each other that much at that age, you’re landing shots, but they don’t really pack a punch.

I take it that you got the nickname ‘The Cobra’, because of the way that you fight…

Yeah. I usually stun my opponents with a venomous attack and then strike. It’s a pretty good phrase for PR too, with the alliteration of ‘Carl’ and ‘Cobra’.

Carl Froch photos by David Bowen for LeftLion. Please do not use without prior permission.

Which of your fights so far has given you the most satisfaction?
Probably the points win with King Charles Adamu. He was a real tough strong Ghanaian veteran, who had been to the Olympics and is like a king in his home country, with his head on stamps and everything. It seemed at times during the fight that I just couldn’t hurt him and I was taking a lot of shots myself. It was my first twelve round fight and I was fighting for the Commonwealth title. It was an honorable fight throughout and for me to come out victorious at the end was very satisfying. He’d never been put down before and I took him down in the eighth. For me that is much more satisfying than a first round knockout. I’ve got a lot of respect for him as a boxer.

What do you do to recover after a fight. Do you just lie in bed for a few weeks?
After that fight I couldn’t move for a fortnight, literally. I couldn’t clench my fists or anything. My back and my neck were sore and it felt like I had been in a car crash. Usually you need a week or two off just chilling out and relaxing. In that time I just do things I want to like going on holiday. Then after a couple of weeks you start to get back onto it. It’s nothing too harsh or intensive though, until you get the date through for the next fight that is…

What’s your training schedule like before a big fight?

I do four to five runs per week which vary in length up to about six miles. I don’t struggle with my weight, unlike a lot of boxers, which is a big advantage in the weeks building up to a fight. It means that I don’t have to do long runs, but instead I make them quite intense. Nottingham is built on mountains and there are a lot of hills (like Donkey hill), so I do eight or ten runs up and down them each day. It it really intensive. About ten minutes in you always want to stop, but you just have to keep going. It’s a test of mental strength, not just fitness.

I understand that you have a problem finding suitable sparring partners?
There’s definitely a problem getting them in England. There’s only two people in the country that I can get in to spar these days and they’re not always available. Usually I don’t keep them for very long. Sometimes they don’t even come back for the money. 

Carl Froch photos by David Bowen for LeftLion. Please do not use without prior permission.

I know you have a burning passion to box on terrestrial TV...
My second to last fight was televised in America, but not here. We showed it in our family pub and had a lot of locals turn out, but I want people to see me when I fight and there are so many that haven’t. I’d love boxing to get back where it belongs. The BBC really fucked it up a few years ago when they gave Audley Harrison £1million for ten fights. No-one was interested in watching him knock a pub doorman out. He was fighting people who didn’t have a chance and that’s why no-one knows or cares about him anymore.

If you look back at when Chris Eubank and Nigel Benn were both massive it was because they were on national TV. Ricky Hatton and Joe Calzaghe have had a lot of press recently, but in terms of boxing champions they’re still unknown to most of the British public. Boxing fans know who they are, but not your next door neighbor. But ITV are getting back into the sport. They showed my fight and they showed the Amir Khan fight and hopefully the great days are about to return.

You’ve also been baiting the world super-middleweight boxing Champion Joe Calzage on live TV…
He’s been carefully sidestepping me. I called it on with him in front of six million viewers, which is maybe a little out of order, but if it gets him up and into the ring then I’m happy. The problem with British boxing at the moment is that not enough British fighters want to fight each other. They want to walk into each fight 100% guaranteed to win because the guy they are fighting isn’t good enough. I’d like to take on Joe Calzaghe, not just because I think I can beat him. He’s strong fit and dedicated, a real warrior. I’ve actually got quite a lot of respect for him after watching him box right from when I was a kid, but I’d slag him off to get him onto the ring. I know that a fight with him won’t be easy, but I’d be prepared to train harder than I have ever trained before to beat him.

Why do you think he’s not up for it? Is it a money thing?
Well, he’s been hanging around for nine years with the word title and beaten Chris Eubank and Henry Wharton in two great fights, but apart from that, it’s been a while since he’s fought anyone decent. His last match wasn’t exactly a big pay day, but he’s been in America and looking for a couple of million before he retires. If he fights me and gets beat then there isn’t really anywhere else to go. I can’t blame him for what he’s doing, but he can’t say that he’s not afraid to get into the ring with me, otherwise he’d just do it.

Carl Froch photos by David Bowen for LeftLion. Please do not use without prior permission.

You’ve been accused by some of being overconfident...
People can say that I’m overconfident, but I’m undefeated. The thing is that I know these guys are tough, but with the training that I do and the preparation that I put in for every fight, it means that I can confidently sit here and tell you that I’m capable of taking them out. I’ve got a natural talent for this game. As an amateur I won the national title three years running when I was just messing around in my spare time and not really keeping a real boxing regime at all. The training itself would take an average person so far, but with the talent I’ve got as well I’m a sure thing!

Where do you go on a night out in Nottingham?
I don’t spend much time in bars or clubs, but I like going out to eat a lot. If you can’t go out and get tanked up with everyone else, which is what it’s all about really, then it kind of defeats the point of it all. Don’t get me wrong, going out drinking is tempting, but I can live that life later on. At the moment I’ve got an important job on and I just want to be the best at it and to do what I do well involves cutting out the vices in life like drinking and smoking and being up at all hours.

Your training sessions in London sound pretty hardcore…
It’s like a training camp. I’m up at six running and in bed by ten o’clock. I’ll have a big bowl of porridge and banana and honey. No caffeine at all, I’m on mint tea. That’s Monday to Friday for six weeks and I come back home for the weekends.

I read in a previous interview you give a slating to other British sportsmen like David Beckham and Tim Henman...
The way I look at it is that pound for pound and sport for sport I’m better at boxing than Beckham is at football. He’s great at corners and free kicks and passing, but he can’t tackle and is not an all-round talent. I was really trying to get the papers to take note of boxing and say ‘look we’ve got a talent here, someone who is going to dominate on a world level’. As soon as I unify the world titles everybody will be onto me like a rash. I just want to get them on board early…

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