Frankie Demilo Interview: The Australian Super Bantamweight champ speaks up!
04.04.05 - By MATT CLARK: Frankie Demilo is a classy guy. Not just in the ring where he has compiled an 18-5, 7 KO record but outside the ropes where his impeccable dress sense and obvious intellect has the ‘Average Joe’ double take when they find out his chosen profession. Now promoted by Jamie Myer, this well travelled man was born in Rwanda on April 6 1974, began boxing in Sweden age 19, turned professional in England in 1999 and now calls Australia home.
Article posted on 04.04.2005
On March 18 he claimed the Australian super bantamweight title when Gold Coast rival Matt Powell was disqualified in the sixth round. When in training the dedicated Demilo commutes daily, a two hour round trip to the Tweed Heads PCYC from his Surfers Paradise home where he works out with trainer Tony Nobbs. The softly spoken southpaw and his trainer took the time to answer the following questions in early April.
Matt Clark: Hi Frankie, firstly, congratulations on your recent victory.
Frankie Demilo: Thanks man, yeah it feels great. A feeling of great achievement. It’s great to be a champion again, I’m just not happy with the way the fight ended but Matty Powell once again proved what a coward he is and decided to quit rather than get knocked out. However, a win is a win and revenge was definitely sweet. I’m just proud to be Australian champion.
MC: Tell the reader about the history between yourself and Matt. There seemed to be a lot of hype surrounding the bout, that it was a ‘grudge match’.
FD: There is no particular grudge between us but the whole thing stems from our first fight where he was awarded a win he didn’t deserve (13/2/04). All he did was to avoid fighting, he ran all night and also used a lot of dirty tactics like holding, head butting and wrestling. He acted a lot in that fight too, whinging and claiming low blows every time I landed heavy shots to the body, I’m surprised he is not in Hollywood! He was allowed to get away with a lot of things and actually convinced the referee to deduct point of me unnecessarily. Since then he kept avoiding me and I actually never thought this fight would ever happen.
MC: I feel that this time you kept your cool a lot better than the first fight. Could you see that Powell was getting frustrated the more you tagged him?
FD: That’s right. After the first fight I had to go back and lay out new strategies. My trainer Tony Nobbs told me we would use a “no mas” plan and force him to quit. I fought from a distance, did a lot of body movement and used speed to land punches and circle around him. This left him with no chance to hold and wrestle. I also put him under steady pressure, I noticed he was growing more frustrated and sensed that he was slowing down from the body shots I was landing, he began looking for ways out of the fight. He quit! Through out the preparation my trainer kept reminding me of Sugar Ray v Duran ll.
Matt Clark: Tony, give your thoughts on the fight.
Tony Nobbs: The first fight was very disappointing. The rematch – we proved our point. It was difficult as the last week I couldn’t get to the gym because of back spasms and we missed a few sessions on the pads. The fighter makes the trainer, I think, and on the night Frankie did the job! I want to thank Jamie (Myer) for linking us together in October 2003 and getting us the chance to win the Australian title. Hopefully there will be more titles to come.
MC: Tony, how long have you been involved in boxing?
TN: I have always loved boxing and I got encouraged by my dad Barry as a kid. I started in 1983 at 16 and I started training boxers in 1994. I still love it and I thank God I can still participate. It keeps me goin'!
MC: Frankie, tell us about your amateur career.
FD: My amateur record was 56 wins-8 losses. I was Swedish national champion and won a few medals with the national team.
MC: You’ve fought in Denmark, England and Wales as a pro…
FD: I have had quite tremendous experiences during my pro career but unfortunately I have come across open hostility in some of these countries I boxed in. However, I’ve learnt to appreciate the positives but the negatives just give me the hunger to push harder in order to be accepted and earn respect. Nothing has ever come easy for me in my entire life and I have had to fight for everything. That is why I am a champion!
MC: You have beaten former world champion Francisco Tejedor and fought Michael Hunter for the WBF super bantamweight title, losing a 12 round decision. How far away are you from being your best?
FD: I’d love to say I’m not far from my best. I just need competition so I can prove that I belong up there with the elite. I came into this game pretty late but I had a very good foundation with Glenn Waddel (in Sweden) and am still learning believe me.
MC: What’s it like training under Tony Nobbs and do you believe he’s improved your ability?
FD: Tony is a great man, I truly believe he has improved my boxing ability. Tony is old school and his philosophy combines both brawn and brain power. I just want to say that two guys that trained me previously did a great job too. My amateur trainer Glenn Waddel, a genius, he spent years teaching me. Bristol Boy boss Chris Sanigar developed most of my physical abilities. He taught me how to be tough and always reminded me that tough times make monkeys eat red pepper and I’d need to be tough when the tough gets going. Chris got me started with my pro career and he wanted me to have that mental edge when he put me in with the lions. I couldn’t have learnt from a better person than a former tough warrior himself. Tony has adjusted my physical and technical aspects to a new level, besides that he has improved my ring generalship. He has a wide range of knowledge and knows how to lay out strategies for each fight. Tony does all the teaching and I do the learning. I am just happy to have worked with these three guys and I owe them a lot of respect.
MC: Tony, what are your strengths as a trainer?
TN: Patience! I’ve also been lucky to learn from good boxing people. The first gym I walked into was Bernie Hall’s in Goulbourn St (Sydney) in ’83. I only boxed a few years but had all my fights with Max Pescud, a Victorian Trainer of the Year a couple of times in a great era, the late ‘60’s, early ‘70’s and had some very good Australian champions. I was with Jeff Malcolm – one of Australia’s great southpaws – for ten years and have been around plenty of good fighters over the years. My motto is “The three L’s. Look, Listen, Learn”. Also, I got to work with a lot of imports during the Mordey days and got some nice experience there without any pressure. Also I've got a trusty crew around me. My regular corner man Billy College is the best. He has taught me to be calm. My mate Tony Sims has been a big help in Frankie’s last two fights and Dale Hawke helps me out in the gym and does a nice job.
MC: Tony, you suffered a stroke as a child. How does this affect you?
TN: Physically I struggle a bit but mentally I'm sharp as a tack!!!
MC: Tell us about your fight with Jackson Asiku for the Australian featherweight title (24/9/04).
FD: Like I said one needs tough competition in order to prove himself. Jackson is a friend of mine and we had a great fight, full of action. I believe that Jackson will be a world champion one day, provided he is given the chance. I had been training to fight Matt Powell again when he pulled out. I was offered to fight Jackson who’d been training for another fight. I knew Jackson is a true warrior and would be a much tougher fight but this is what fighting is about, the challenge. I got cut over my left eye with a week remaining to the Jackson fight. I went in cautiously and got caught with a good shot. By the end of the round my eye was cut and closing but thanks to my cut man Billy College, who did a tremendous job keeping it under control. I worked hard to stay in the fight and did my best to avoid getting hit on that same eye. I was settling into that fight but Jackson was on top of his game that night and finally landed a good punch which shut the eye. This meant the fight was over (in round six) as I could barely see. Jackson was the better man that night.
MC: You then faced Rolando Gerongco on TV (17/12/04). Tell us about that fight.
FD: This was a featherweight fight and the dude turned up weighing three pounds over weight. I believe that he never even tried to make weight but his people claimed he had done everything and couldn’t lose anymore. Man, the whole thing was a joke. This was another time Matt Powell pulled out after signing a contract and I ended up fighting a super featherweight. It was a good, tough fight, he is a good fighter with a lot of heart and comes in throwing bombs. I knew he’d come out flying straight at me and try and rough me up since they thought he out weighed me. I had to keep my cool in that fight and just out manouver him with my skills. Everything seemed to be going smooth and I relaxed and he caught me with a short powerful right at the back of my head. I beat the count and went straight back to work. (Another knockdown was from a left hook to the back of the head). I still won (even with three counts). Gerongco is a good lad but there’s no way he would have lasted the distance had he made weight.
MC: You spent two weeks in Perth sparring Gairy St Clair. Tell us about that experience and how you think St Clair would go if/when he fights WBO champ Scott Harrison?
FD: Absolutely great. Training at Harry’s Gym with all the other boys was fun. Craig Christian looked after me! Gairy is a true gentleman and I enjoyed our sparring sessions a lot and picked up many new tricks. I found him very intelligent and relaxed. He is a slick mover with great ring generalship. To be honest, I know there are a lot of good champions at featherweight but I believe Gairy would beat them all including Manny Pacquiao. He has just got that touch of class. Scott Harrison is a tough man but I believe that the Superman has enough ammunition to beat the Hulk. He is just too elusive.
MC: Who is your favorite fighter?
FD: Sugar Ray Robinson. This guy had all the qualities I admire. He was a fighting machine and never had any fears to push beyond limits. To me he is an all time favorite pugilist, a legend and an icon. I love the way he fought, using speed and power to destroy opponents. I just adore him.
MC: What can fans expect from you in the next twelve months?
FD: 2005 will be a my year and fans can expect a lot more from me. I am working hard every day and will be bringing everything into the ring everytime I fight.
MC: Finally, is there any people you want to thank?
FD: I’d like to thank everyone that has supported me through out the years. My sincere thanks to my trainer and friend Tony, Glenn ‘The Man’ Waddel of Timra Boxing Cub in Sweden and all the boys at Timra. Thor Dahl of Trondheim my friends Bob and Fred of B & F Security Services (I appreciate you for all the support and help you give me), Chris Sanigar, and all my fans. Special thanks to Jamie Myer for all the work he puts in promoting me and the rest of the boys, respect to my main sponsors B & F, Australian United Finance and Scooba Doo Pty. I also want to thank everyone at the Tweed Heads PCYC and my assistant conditioning trainer Nampei Shinjo of Peak Performance Japan (thanks for helping me out buddy). Just a lot of people I love to thank but I know you all feel me.
MC: Thanks Frankie for taking the time to talk to us and we hope to hear from you again.
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