Sharkie's Machine: Q & A With Calvin Brock
02.02.05 - Interview by Frank Gonzalez Jr.: On January 21st, Charlotte, North Carolina's Heavyweight Prospect, Calvin Brock stepped up and scored an impressive, third round knock out victory over HW contender, Clifford Etienne at the Reliant Center in Houston Texas.
Article posted on 02.02.2005
I spoke with Calvin a week after his KO victory and took the opportunity to ask a few questions.
Frank Gonzalez: Tell me a little bit about growing up in Charlotte. Who were you mentors and what made you want to become a Boxer?
Calvin Brock: Charlotte is a great place and God's been blessing me here. When I was eight years old, I got some boxing gloves as a Christmas present. I would box with my friends in the yard and eventually I ran out of friends to box with because they didn't like it. But I decided I wanted to keep doing it. That's what God wanted me to do with my life and I kept doing it, I loved it. I got started fighting in the gym when I was 12 and been boxing ever since..
FG: What's the first boxing match you remember seeing?
CB: Hagler vs. Hearns.
FG: Great fight. Who is your all time favorite fighter?
CB: Joe Louis.
FG: What was it about Joe Louis that appealed to you?
CB: He wasn't flashy, he was very technically sound. He was quick, powerful and he got the job done. I'm pretty much the same way. That's why I liked his style.
FG: How did your boxing career begin and who was in your first corner?
CB: My first corner man was an old, 80-year-old man named Lou Kemp. After my first nine months with Kemp, I had to move on from him because he wasn't really teaching me anything.
FG: So he helped get you started but couldn't keep you going?
CB: Right. I lost my first four boxing matches under him (in the amateurs) when I was twelve and thirteen years old. After losing four matches with him, I decided to leave him and go to another gym in Charlotte, at the Police Athletic League. And after two months of PAL coaching, my dad took over and started coaching me full time.
After my eighth or ninth month, my dad ordered Coaching Instructional tapes by Kenny Wellis, Ringside Magazine and a pair of hand mitts and I used to train with my father in the house, even while I was training under Lou Kemp. I didn't have a coach after my eleventh month in boxing because the second coach walked out and that's when my dad stepped in and took over. I went with my father all the way through the amateurs and had a successful career, winning five National Titles and making the 2000 Olympic Team.
FG: Is your father still in your corner.
CB: Yes. He always has been and always will be. When I turned pro, I added Tommy Yankello as my Trainer, and my father is my second.
FG: What is your take on diet, sleep habits during training?
CB: A clean diet and good sleep habits are part of good training and preparation for a fight. That's usually where the fight is won.in the training. If you don't train right, then you already beat yourself. Hard work balanced with a clean lifestyle and the right diet is real important. I stay away from high glucose foods, such as white potato starches, white bread, and anything with all those other sugars. I have cut sugar out of my diet. I stick with greens, fruits and other healthy foods.
FG: What are your thoughts about reviving the 15 rounder for Championship Fights?
CB: I don't think it needs to be revived. 15 rounds is a lot of rounds to be boxing, especially in summer time. For some guys who get punched a lot, they can get killed because those later rounds can be too much for them.
FG: Okay. Aside from boxing, what other sports are you interested in?
CB: Well, growing up I played baseball and football until I was 12 years old.
FG: Tar Heels fan?
CB: I never been a big 'sports fan' so I can't say too much about other sports other than the fact that I played some. I don't watch sports on television.
FG: What is your favorite Movie?
CB: Gregory Hines in "Tap." I watched it a lot of times. I'm a Tap Dancer myself and always been involved with Tap Dance.
FG: In your January 21st fight with Clifford Etienne, you knocked him down in the first round and then two more times in the third. I don't believe there was a Three Knock Down rule-but Referee Lawrence Cole stopped it after the third knockdown, even though Etienne appeared capable of continuing. Did you think the stoppage was questionable?
CB: It wasn't questionable. Referee Cole said that the first time he got knocked down, he went down face first and when a fighter goes down face first that means he's really hurt. In the third round, after I knocked him down, he got back up and I put him right back down and again within the next 25-35 seconds. He was only going to get hurt real bad if it went on, so the referee stopped it.
FG: You have an unbeaten record, but Clifford Etienne is the first 'generally recognizable' name on your resume. At 24-0, do you feel that your pro career is midway or just beginning?
CB: It's just beginning because my body is young. I just turned 30 years old but my body is young. I take good care of my body. I haven't been in any too tough matches, I haven't been knocked down, I haven't been dazed and I have an excellent defense. Most of my matches have ended in the first three rounds. So, I haven't had any wear and tear on my body.
FG: And from the looks of things, you can definitely take a punch. You took some good shots from Etienne and I was impressed with your ability to stay cool under pressure and counter with decisive shots of your own. But what criticisms, if any, do YOU have about your performance last Friday against Clifford Etienne?
CB: Well, I can use my jab more. I can shorten up my punches some and I can tighten up my defense a little.
FG: You have good, balanced skills and respectable power. Watching your last performance, I was impressed with your poise and demeanor against an aggressive opponent. Some of the fighters I imagine you will face in the near future are guys like, Fres Oquendo, Owen Beck, JC Gomez or Monte Barrett. Who would you shoot for if you could choose who your next opponent?
CB: Mike Tyson.
FG: I hear that. Everybody wants to fight Mike Tyson. From a business standpoint, he brings the big audience and post fight remembrances. Is there anybody else?
CB: Nobody else comes to mind. I would love to fight Mike Tyson.
FG: I hear you man. That big payday wouldn't hurt either. (Laughs) What are your thoughts about fellow HW prospect, Sam Peter?
CB: I think he's going to be a Title Holder, just like myself.
FG: What are your thoughts about meeting him in the ring down the line?
CB: I don't plan on meeting him because we are stable mates, we're brothers and we're friends.
FG: I didn't know that-but I do know that Sam Peter is one tough cookie.
CB: He is.
FG: At this time, I think your boxing skills might be more balanced, while his best asset is his big power. But in Peter's last fight against Yanqui Diaz, I was impressed with how much tighter his boxing skills were. That was the best I've seen of him so far. But I also thought the small ring heavily favored Peter.
During the post fight interview of the Etienne fight, you said that if people were, "looking for the real HW champion, here I am, Calvin Brock." What kind of timetable do you have in mind for accomplishing that goal of becoming the HW Champion?
CB: In my spirit, heart and mind, I already feel that I am the 'real' HW Champion of the World. I just have to get a Trophy Belt.
FG: How far away are you from getting a Trophy Belt, a year, two years?
CB: No man. It's possible with the way the HW division is right now, if I get a couple of good TV fights and market things right, I can be Champion before the end of 2005.
FG: That would be awesome. That's an ambitious plan. The best thing you can do is to stay busy.
CB: I plan to fight four times in 2005.
FG: Vitali Klitschko is the highest regarded of the HW Champions these days. How ready are you to challenge Klitschko, Chris Byrd, John Ruiz or Lamon Brewster?
CB: I'm ready to challenge those guys right now. But I don't want to do it being an 'Unknown.' I want to go for a Title shot with a good fan base, a following, with people knowing who I am. I want to be a bigger draw then what they are when I face them-because I want to get paid when I get my title shot.
FG: Understood. You're a smart man Calvin. And I'm sure you built yourself a bigger fan base after your last impressive win, televised on ESPN2's Friday Night Fights.
With the IBF, WBC, WBA and WBO, do you think there are too many Champions? What are your thoughts about an annual showdown between the four major Titleholders to determine which ONE is the real Champion?
CB: I think that's the way it ought to be. I'm tired of people asking me, "who's the HW Champion of the world?" And I have to list off all four of them.
FG: I know, its ridiculous. There should only be one Champion in each weight class. As a fan, it would be great to see Championship Tournaments every year. It could be like Boxing's version of the Super Bowl. The build up would make for some exciting drama. It would be great for the sport all around.
You have a strong amateur background, you were a 2000 US Olympian and you are also a college graduate from the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. Your unusual moniker is, "The Boxing Banker." Are you an actual Banker now, or do you plan to work in the Banking industry after Boxing?
CB: No, I'm not a banker anymore. I quit that when I got back from the Olympics in 2000 so I could focus on my boxing career. But the name stuck because Bank of America did an advertisement with me in USA Today, where they called me, "The Boxing Banker."
FG: Ok, that makes sense. What about after boxing?
CB: After my boxing career, I plan on being an Actor and a Tap Dancer. And I want to open my own Dance School.
FG: The twentieth question is-when can fight fans expect to see you in the ring again Calvin?
CB: April, then again by late June or early July.
FG: Good. I look forward to seeing you fight again. I want to thank you for taking the time to talk with me Calvin; it's been a real pleasure.
CB: Thanks Frank; I really appreciate you taking an interest in me.
FG: Hey, you're a classy guy in the ring, you have good skills, and power, poise and I've never heard you talk any trash. You're a compliment to the sport I love and I respect that. It's going to be exciting watching you make your move in the Heavyweight division. I wish you success both inside and outside of the ring. God bless.
CB: Thank you and God bless.
Photos © Carlos Kalinchuk
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