10-Count Quiz: Kerry Hope
If Kerry Hope’s European middleweight title win on the weekend was like something out of a Hollywood movie that’s because the Merthyr Tydfil man rewrote the script himself.
The original screenplay had Hope turning up to act as fodder for the highly touted Pole Greg Proksa. A tough pro with three losses and not many knockouts on his record, Hope was meant to make the tricky southpaw, with fast hands and a low guard, look good. It was supposed to be Proksa’s introduction to the British fans. At least that’s what the matchmakers, bookmakers, and column writers’ thought.
Hope and trainer Karl Ince however had other plans. The Welshman ruffled, jabbed, and capitalised on a cut caused by a clash of heads to win by majority decision. And having been hardly mentioned before the show, the unheralded fighter hasn’t been able to get off the phone since with all the well-wishers and media men that want his story.
Luckily we were one of the latter and we managed to collar him with a 10-Count Quiz…
1. How did you get into boxing?
Just getting into trouble in school, I got sent to a boxing gym at 13 and just loved it. I trained in Merthyr and then turned pro down in Newbridge with Enzo Calzaghe. I guess like everyone who goes into a boxing gym and falls in love, some day I had aspirations of becoming a world champion. My career so far has been a bit stop and start, and I’ve had a lot of bad luck, but now I’m potentially on the cusp of a world title shot!
2. Who was your boxing hero?
I had so many; from the old style fighters Sugar Ray Leonard was one of the first boxers I really looked up to. These days I look at the modern day fighters like Floyd Mayweather and Miguel Cotto for different aspects of their game, their different styles and what they bring to the ring.
3. What would you change in boxing?
Politics. The politics have certainly affected my career, I’ve had fights called off, people pulling out, and also when I went to America I fought for the WBF title and won but didn’t get the decision because I was the away fighter. My last two fights I’ve been the opponent and not supposed to win. But people underestimate me and quickly find out that I’m a lot better than they think. I know I have three losses on my record but each of those losses I can account for. Things happen in boxing and that’ll never change but realistically speaking I should still be undefeated.
4. If you weren’t a boxer what would you be doing?
I always said if I was a bit better on my feet I would have liked to be a footballer. I’m a Wrexham fan so maybe I’d be playing for them. Even though I am a Merthyr boy my family comes from Wrexham so that’s why I support them. But whatever I’d be doing it would be in sports.
5. What’s the biggest sacrifice you’ve had to make to pursue your boxing career?
Well my daughter was born a week ago and I had to make the sacrifice of not being there. My partner done it without me, which I’m very proud of, and hopefully by wining the title it means the sacrifice paid dividends and she’s equally as proud of me.
6. If you could pick one fight throughout the ages that you would have liked to be ringside at, what fight and why?
It’s got to be a Manny Pacquiao fight because he brings so much excitement to the game. It would probably have to be his fight at the Dallas Cowboys Stadium against Tony Margarito, the atmosphere looked awesome and he was brilliant that night.
7. Would you rather fight a young middleweight ruler Bernard Hopkins or an old light-heavyweight dictator Bernard Hopkins?
I’d much rather face the young Hopkins because the old one has too much ring craft to cause you problems. Saying that though, I don’t fancy him against Chad Dawson. Although you can never write Hopkins off I think it would be a step too far for him.
8. Before a fight, how do you get in the zone mentally?
I think about the missus! No seriously, before I fight I’ve probably fought my opponent eight times anyway thinking about the fight, what I got to do and tactics etc. But it’s like a switch I just focus on what I’ve got to do and get in the zone that way.
9. What would be your perfect after fight blow-out?
The perfect blowout for me would be going out for an Indian and chilling with the family. I don’t drink so none of that getting plastered stuff but you don’t realise how much you take for granted being able to eat what you want every week. When you have to cut it out for training camp it’s hard work!
10. What’s the dream?
It’s always the dream for every young fighter that turns professional, I want to be a world champion and I’m a big chunk of the way there now so we’ll see what happens.
Kerry was sponsored by the Welsh brand Weekend Offender, both come from the small Welsh village of Merthyr Tydfil and have now escalated to European status.