“For the first couple of weeks I took the belt everywhere I went with me in my bag”
What started out as a walk- on session at One X One Boxing Club for some off- season high school football training, ended up with a sparring session that drove the Jamaican Juggernaut to transition from being a football player to becoming a boxing star. The Super Middleweight Champion who is becoming a household name in the city, sat down with us to discuss his training experience at the world – renowned Mayweather Boxing club, and the vision that he has on his road to greatness.
514: Your parents are from Jamaica Have you ever been there before?
SP: I’ve been there twice now. I went recently and about 5 years ago my mother got married there.
514: How did your journey of being introduced to boxing begin?
SP: Well basically what happen is, I used to live in the South Shore in Brossard , and I was playing football for Champlain St- Lambert and I wanted to do some off season training that nobody was really doing. So I went to a gym near my house call One X One Boxing because I heard of football players doing boxing for their footwork, and how it helped them with opening up their hips, so I decided to try it out.
514: Was the transitioning of one sport to another challenging for you?
SP: Yes, after two weeks of training, the coach that was there at the time ask me to try out some sparring. So he puts me up against the best guy in the gym, one who was already competing in fights. This guy was like 140 pounds and I was like 200 pounds at the time, so I was telling myself that there’s no way this guy is going to hurt me. So we get in the ring, and I got him a few times with some good punches and then he starts smiling at me, (laughs) so the coach tells him to turn it up a bit, and after two minutes of hitting him in the body and throwing punches I was dead tired.
514: You would think because you’re already an athlete playing football, wouldn’t your cardio be up to par when you we’re sparring?
SP: Boxing is really a different kind of cardio and conditioning, it’s all the anxiety, nervousness, and your whole body starts to tense up at the same time. Plus you are getting hit in the face so it’s really something new. Let me give you an example, It’s like when you see someone outside fighting for the first 10 to 30 seconds, everything goes, and you give it your all, and after 30 seconds you start to get dead tired. Now imagine going 3 minutes full blow, that’s why in the ring it is a bit different it’s more technique so that’s why when you are doing it for the first time it’s hard because you don’t know how to control and pace yourself.
514: What position did you play in football?
SP: Running back and sometimes linebacker.
514: What made you decide to quit football and pursue boxing full time?
SP: So after sparring with the best guy in the gym and because I’m such a competitive person, I told myself that there’s no way I’m letting this happen to me again. I was coming to the gym everyday, sometimes twice a day until I told myself that I was ready to go back in the ring to spar with the same dude again. The Coach saw that I was dedicated, so he approached me and ask if I wanted to join the team, the Canadian Amateur Boxing Association. I told him yes, and from thereon I was sparring with different people. Then I sparred with the same guy from the first time, and this time I was much better, I was closer but he still was better than me because of the experience.
514: Did you ever regret walking away from a football career?
SP: Well, during my last season at Champlain I was playing football and boxing at the same time, but I finish the season and that year we were horrible, we lost 2 seasons in a row. We didn’t win a game, so that kind of turn me off about football. I stuck to boxing all the way.
514: How long did it take you to compete for your first fight?
SP: I got my first fight after 6 months of training, I kept on fighting and I won my first 10 fights in a row. I also won the bronze gloves in my first tournament.
514: How did you celebrate after you won the Super Middleweight Belt?
SP: Well I celebrated for 2 weeks really, mostly with family and my girl. I did a couple of family gatherings, I went to a lot of friends house, and they would ask me to bring the belt over, so I did (laughs), and I went to different restaurants with different people.
514: After you won the belt do you get to keep it with you at all times?
SP: So this is what happens. You get to keep the belt it’s yours. Even when you lose to your opponent the belt is yours. But they make a replica of the belt and give it to the new champion. It’s like running track and field and you won the race, they give you a medal, and if you compete again and lose the next race you’re not going to take your medal and give it to someone else.
514: I bet that you carried that belt with you everywhere that you went?
SP: For the first couple of weeks I took the belt everywhere I went with me in my bag, people were coming up to me like “Hey Shak I heard you won the belt” and I was like “Yeah its right here you want to see” (laughs), and I was pulling it out of my bag showing people. I was proud and happy at the same time.
514:Did you have any relatives that boxed before you?
SP: My dad actually did some Amateur fighting. He had 20 Amateur fights, but he never took it as serious as I am. He did it for the trips and to see different girls.
514: Does boxing teach you any life lessons?
SP: Yeah, for sure you have to learn how to be disciplined. You have to eat right and put in a good amount of work. If not, when you get into the ring you’re going to get beaten.
514: After training is over and you’ve won your fight can you eat whatever you want?
SP: It’s a bit different between Amateur and Professional fighting. With Amateur fighting sometimes I was fighting twice a week and sometimes back to back days. It is so cramped because you’re fighting all the time. But with Professional fighting there’s more space in between to enjoy some of the foods and then work it out.
514: Usually there’s a lot of trash talking leading to a big fight, is there a lot of trash talking in the back rooms prior to you entering the ring?
SP: Usually there’s a lot of trash talking at the weigh- in the day before the fight. Some guys talk a lot, some guys say nothing at all. I usually keep it respectful, but if a guy gets disrespectful I usually stare him down and let him know that he’s about to get it when we get in the ring tomorrow. I’m not big on trash talking I usually keep it serious; I do all my talking in the ring.
514: When you’re in the ring, is it more important to be respected or feared? for example Floyd Mayweather is respected and Mike Tyson is feared?
SP: Honestly I think it’s a bit of both, like with Floyd he’s respected but he’s not feared because you know that he’s not going to knock you out, but he’s respected because of his accomplishments with what he has done he is (49-0) and everyone wants to fight him for that big pay day. But a guy like Kovalev or Golovkin, those guys are feared but respected at the same time. But probably mostly feared because guys don’t want to fight them because they know that they’re going to knock you out.
514: How different was it training in the famous world- known Mayweather Boxing Club gym compare to training at the gyms at home?
SP: In terms of the actual training it’s not much different but the atmosphere is very different. At my gym no one is really trash talking when you’re there, but at the Mayweather Boxing Club it’s respectful but as soon as you get into the ring it’s so much trash talking involved. I never had someone try to swag on me while I was sparring with them. I’m throwing my punches and my sparring partner is yelling at me “nope you can’t touch me”, and then he’s holding on to me and he’s yelling “Look Coach I’m too experienced for this kid” (laughs), and when they spar it feels like a real fight for they go all out. I feel like when they spar they are there to impress somebody, there, hoping that Floyd is out there watching or someone there will pick them up.
514: Do you feel like it can hinder your up incoming fight when you go all out during the sparring?
SP: Well you always have to spar hard because you’re getting ready for a fight, but at the same time it could be damaging for your career, and these guys are not going to ease off of you if you’re getting beat up in a corner, they’re going to keep on going. If I am sparring with you and I see you’re hurt, I’m not going to try to not you knock because were sparring, but these guys they don’t care, they go all in.
514: Do you have any kids?
SP: No I don’t.
514: If you are fortunate to have any kids later on in your lifetime is that a sport you would let your kids get into?
SP: Well if it’s a sport that they enjoy and really like, then I won’t hold them back from their dreams, but boxing is a very damaging sport, so it’s obviously very scary for a parent.
514: What’s more important to you, the money or the glory?
SP: Right now the money is not important, because I’m still at the beginning stages so the money is not that great. I really want to make a statement here in Canada and make people know who I am, and from there the whole North America and hopefully the whole world will know who I am.
514: The slogan that you use a lot is (boxing is my life and family is everything), what does that mean to you?
SP: Well for me boxing is what feeds my family, so I’m doing boxing for my family.
514: Does one expression hold more weight and priority than the other or do they go hand in hand for you?
SP: Obviously family first always, they know I’m making ends for them, and soon I’ll get a big pay day so that I can do even better for my family.
514: This month were writing about the double standard of males being able to have sex with random women and be considered to be players, but a woman with the same motives are considered to be promiscuous. How do you feel about that?
SP: Well it’s always been like that since the beginning of time, but the way I feel about that it’s kind of messed up because technically guys are being a Ho* if you are smashing all these girls also. I’ve done things like that also. Technically everyone has had their times with that, and I’ve done things like that before and bash girls for doing Shi* like that.But now I’m older and I don’t do things like that anymore. I have my girl and I’m just cool. If you’re out there doing things like that, I’m not going to criticize you because I’ve done that before.
Facebook: Shakeel Phinn
Instagram: @Shakeel Phinn
Written By: Vlad Pierre
Edited By: Yvonne Sam
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