News February 2013

Erick Ochieng talks to Livefight

23.02.2013

By @John_Evans79

English light middleweight champion Erick Ochieng is a prime example of a fighter doing his learning on the job. Since claiming the title in just his tenth fight the Kenyan born entertainer has improved technically and benefitted from the exposure generated by being a ‘Matchroom Fighter’.



On the verge of fighting for the coveted Lonsdale belt, Ochieng, 12-1 (4), gets another opportunity to impress when he takes on the always aggressive Terry Carruthers at Wembley Arena on March 9th.

“Training’s going awesome. I’m in the best shape of my life,” Ochieng told Livefight recently. “I’m looking forward to doing the business on the night. I can fight off the ropes or in the middle of the ring, I can use my feet. The fan’s are gonna get their moneys worth on the night. After getting Terry out of my way, I’ll be on my way to winning the British.”

English title level has provided an excellent proving ground for Ochieng. After marking his arrival in championship class by outlasting Nick Quigley in a wild brawl, ‘The Eagle’ has calmed down and utilised his boxing skills in subsequent defences. Reigning British champion Brian Rose may have joined Ochieng in fighting under the Matchroom banner but a clash between the pair seems unlikely. Rose is set to vacate the belt leaving Ochieng in prime position to contest what will in all likelihood be a vacant belt, not that he pays much mind to the men he may end up facing.

“What I do is I train hard,” he says. “I have the best manager in the business in Brian Lawrence and Eddie Hearn is a big promoter. I let them do what they do best and decide who I’m gonna be fighting. I train hard and beat whoever’s put in front of me.”

After arriving in England as an 11 year old, Ochieng carved himself a reputation as a ‘screwface’ on the streets of London. At 15, after a serious brush with the law convinced him to change his life, he found the boxing gym. Whatever problems Ochieng encountered as a youth growing up however, sport was always a constant.

“My background is sports,” he reveals. “My dad and my mum used to play handball internationally. My great grandad was a footballer, my uncles were footballers and one of my uncles boxed at the Commonwealth Games and won a silver so sport was in my blood from a young age.

“I was a good footballer but I used to play all different kinds of sports. I used to like wrestling. I wanted to be a boxer when I was young but never took it serious. I was always in that environment. My uncle was in the gym and he was sparring one time and got a black eye. I had to run and get ice and I remember saying “When I grow up I’m gonna beat you lot up!”



Although the fight with Carruthers will be only Ochieng’s 14th professional bout, he has already trained for 5 championship fights. Maybe it’s a cliché but unsurprisingly for an athlete originally hailing from Kenya, stamina seems to be a strong point. Although Ochieng found himself drawn to sports other than running, when he did eventually take to the track he found himself more suited to David Rudisha type distances than those tackled by Paul Tergat and Vivian Cheruiyot.


“I also used to do the 400m in athletics. I can run - I’m from Kenya! - but I was always into the shorter distances. I really started running when I came to the UK. I was at school and I think we were playing rounders. The teacher saw me play and told me I was a good runner and connected me with the running track in Finsbury Park.”

In this country, the name Robert Wangila will probably only resonate with boxing nerds. But in Kenya, Wangila is a hero. He was the country’s most famous fighter and took the welterweight gold medal at the 1988 Olympic Games before tragically dying following a fight in Las Vegas back in 1994. Ochieng obviously knows all about his countryman but also has some more well known boxing heroes.

“Obviously the name Wangila has been about because he was a famous boxer but to be honest growing up I’d heard of Tyson and Hoylfied and used to watch those kind of fights,” he reveals. “When I got into boxing, my hero when I look back is Sugar Ray Robinson. He was the foundation because even Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard learnt from Sugar Ray Robinson.

“I gain inspiration from all different fighters. Look at Evander Holyfield. They said he was too small to be a heavyweight but he came through the division to beat up the big boys using his skill and speed. I watch a lot of Mayweather and also Adrien Broner.”

In the fickle world of boxing, Broner is the man of the moment. Whilst the raps he performs during his ringwalks may lack the lyrical genius of Roy Jones Jr’s ‘Y’all Musta Forgot’, Broner certainly makes sure that he attracts attention. As there are a couple of videos floating around of Ochieng happily singing away, can we expect to see a similar entrance one day?

“Yeah,” laughs Ochieng. “That’s gonna be done. Yeah, that’s gotta be done.”




Follow Erick on twitter - @ErickTheEagle
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Visit his website and buy a pair of replica sunglasses – www.ErickTheEagle.com

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