Dailysport interviews Matt Fanthom ahead of his charity bout against former British & Commonwealth Heavyweight Champ – Julius Francis



PZ:      Tell us how you first got into boxing.


MF:     I’d dabbled in boxing many years ago, but never pursued it long enough to really get into it. Then I started attending Surbiton Amateur Boxing Club (ABC) in recent years, and was being trained by Tanya Hoffman who’s a senior ABA boxer and trainer, and then soon after Adam Martin took over my regime.


Between the two of them I was taught the basics, and also noticed a substantial difference in my fitness levels.


I carried on with the boxing training until I suffered a bad football injury in December 2012, which resulted in a dislocated shoulder, and I also snapped my humerus bone in my arm. From December to February of this year, the mobility in my arm was minimal whilst the bones were trying to heal, and during this time I started to put on some weight due to the inactivity.


By the end of February I had a big operation which involved the insertion of metal plates and screws, and immediate post operation I had to attend the physio two to three times per day to get the muscles and joints to motion correctly again. I was informed at the time that I would not be able to box, play cricket or play football ever again. As time ticked on they also said that after about 12 months the best I could hope for was about 80% movement back in my arm, and a further 12 months to get to 90%. I’m glad to say I have proven everybody wrong, and after only seven months have already hit the two year target. Also – the three stone that was gained during my inactivity has now been shed as a result of getting back into my boxing training again.


PZ:      Anybody else in your family who boxes?


MF:     Allegedly my dad boxed when he was at school, but we don’t have any records to prove it! He could take care of himself though, so perhaps there is some truth in it…


PZ:      Tell me more about the event you are boxing at, and why you have decided to participate.


MF:     Adam Martin was helping me to box and thought I had the ability to be able to compete in this charity event. He never said what ability, so I’m saying – limited! He asked me whilst I was injured whether or not I could take on the challenge and whether or not I felt my body could cope. He was aware that both of my parents have been affected by cancer and thought this could be a great opportunity to raise funds for something I had an affinity with. From a selfish perspective, this was also a great opportunity to fast track my recovery, by way of using the 25th October as a milestone to aim for.


John Murphy from World Boxing Cares, and who is also the owner of Surbiton ABC, put on ‘A Night of Champions’ last year, for the Royal Marsden. This year is a similar event, but in addition to the Royal Marsden, the charity Fight 4 Change will also be a beneficiary from funds raised from the event.


PZ:      You are taking on an ex heavyweight champion with hands like shovels. What possessed you to jump in the ring with such stiff opposition?  Did you fancy a charity match of chess with somebody, or run a 10k like most people?


MF:     Originally I was supposed to fight Errol ‘Bomber’ Graham, but being a bit on the heavy side myself, it soon became obvious that I’d end up chasing him around the ring for three rounds without landing a glove on him. Cue – Julius Francis!


Fair play for Julius to step up and take the challenge and help out the charities. From my perspective this is obviously a much bigger challenge. Literally!! At the time I agreed I didn’t really think about it, and the drive and passion to want to rehabilitate my arm overrode any fears of my opponent. Now, with a few weeks to go, the reality is starting to dawn that I’m having to face the ex British and Commonwealth champion!


PZ:      Take me through your training camp to date and who has been putting you through the paces.


MF:     I’ve worked really hard. Adam Martin has been training me, but also has his hands full coaching a number of fighters, so Pete Vearncombe has been training me. Pete has been an absolute star in fact. He will be training me every day right up to fight night, and has been doing so free of charge because it’s a charity event, and because he genuinely wants to also see me reach my own personal goals. He’s been a very good friend.


We should be prepared. Whether it’s enough we will all have to wait and see. Either way, we are all looking forward to the evening.


PZ:      What is going to be the strategy against Julius, and how many rounds is the bout scheduled for?


MF:     It’s three, three minute rounds. I have had a number of friends who work within the boxing industry who have been giving me regular updates of how strong and fit Julius is looking at present. Great!! Also – I think Adam Martin has been winding Julius up whenever he sees him, telling him I’ve been knocking out my sparring partners!


On a serious note though, I don’t want to give away too much at this point. We have been watching some of Julius’s more recent fights and Pete has developed a plan which will hopefully help me on the night. Hopefully he will just stand there and let me hit him. That would be nice!


What I can guarantee at this point is that I will be working hard for every minute I’m in the ring. I want to do myself and my trainers justice. Let’s see what happens!


PZ:      Who else are you hoping will be in attendance on the night?


MF:     There will be a host of other boxers on the evening including Craig Whyatt, Tim Witherspoon, Richie Woodhall and many more. There will also be a number of other people from the boxing fraternity present on the evening to show their support, and consequently improve the chances of success for any fundraising efforts.


If you take a look at the flyer, it will give you a more comprehensive run down of the proceedings on the evening…


PZ:      Tell us one thing about yourself which not many people know.


MF:     I’m currently the sponsor for pro boxer Mitchell Smith.


PZ:      If you could spar three rounds with any past boxing legend, who would it be?


MF:     Mike Tyson. Not sure I’d last three rounds though!

Marsden Boxing flyer

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