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Cameron Hammond: A rising talent from a land down-under

Interview by Chris Errington — Cameron ‘The Hammer’ Hammond is a huge emerging prospect in the junior-middleweight division. Only twenty three years of age, he’s already won a plethora of titles at both state and national level. He’s represented Australia at both the Commonwealth Games in Delhi (2010) and the Olympics in London (2012). On December 11th he won his first professional bout, a crushing TKO over China’s Zhi Xiang Jiang. Now fighting under the banner of Hatton Promotions Asia-Pacific, the future looks bright for the young man from Moree, New South Wales. Cameron has taken a few minutes out of his busy schedule to discuss his life and career so far.

CE: “Congratulations on a successful professional debut Cameron. You’ve extensive experience at amateur level, have represented Australia at both the Commonwealth Games in Delhi and the Olympics in London, but how were the nerves leading up to your first professional prizefight? Did you feel any different or was it just another day at the office?”

CH: “It did feel different with the no head gear and smaller gloves. I actually felt naked in comparison to how you normally feel.  Certainly more unprotected. Those professional gloves are a lot different to the amateur ones. They can cause some damage… I love it! I always get nervous before my fights. That’s normal and I would be worried if I wasn’t nervous. I really enjoyed the experience”

CE: “You impressed two-time world champion Michael Katsidis in sparring. You’re promoted by four time world champion Ricky Hatton. You’ve been coached by highly-respected ex-pro Danny Cheatham and you’re now in the capable hands of world-class trainer Gareth Williams. All the signs are good. Just how far do you believe you can go Cameron? Do you believe one day you’ll be added to the short and distinguished list of indigenous world champions?”

CH: “Yes I do, with the right promoting, management and coaching. I think I have that in place. I’m signed with Hatton Promotions Asia Pacific and they’ve been a dream come true. Everything about them oozes class. My managers are Matt Clark, Brendan Bourke and Philippe Fondu. They’re a great team and they know the pro game inside out. My trainer is Gareth Williams who gives me the technical instruction I need to reach new heights. I believe I can do it and it’s going to take a lot of hard work and staying focused, but I believe I can do it”

CE: “To touch on the previous question…I know you’re proud of your roots. Could you tell us a little more about the Kamilaroi people? Who you are and where you come from? For the benefit of fans outside Australia, please explain what it means to you to represent your people inside the squared circle”

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CH: “I’m definitely proud of heritage as you can see from the tattoo across my chest. I’m a very proud Australian and I’m also proud of my roots. The Kamilaroi people are from Northern New South Wales. In the past we’ve had great Aboriginal boxers like Lionel Rose, Dave Sands, Robbie Peden, Tony and Anthony Mundine and Daniel Geale. I’m hoping to emulate their success. When I get in the ring, I’m representing all Aussies”

CE: “How soon can we expect to see you fighting again? Any idea where? You must be itching for your first fight on home soil”

CH: “Well that’s up to my managers and promoters. There’s been a bit of talk about maybe boxing in March, we’ll see how it goes. I can’t wait to get back in there again! I’m looking forward to fighting in Australia too. But fighting in Hong Kong was an incredible experience.  How many boxers get to make their debut on a huge promotion in Hong Kong in front of live TV? I can’t wait to get back there again and continue to build my fan base”

CE: “I’ve read comparisons with Amir Khan. That’s a huge compliment, but you’re a boxer with a style of your own. Watching you in Hong Kong, it was obvious you’ve got fast hands, good balance and quick feet. Your killer instinct was plain to see…you were all over Xiang immediately after the knockdown, but how would you describe your own style in the ring?”

CH: “I rely on my quick reflexes. I have fast hands and fast feet. I like being evasive and not easy to hit. Michael Katsidis reckons I’ll knock a lot of people out in the pros with my speed. I think I’ve got good power and timing. That makes for crisp punches. I’ve got it all there, it’s just matter of putting it all together on fight night”

CE: “ I remember reading a news article in which your former coach Danny Cheatham discusses how boxing can impart discipline to a person’s life outside the ring… how it teaches responsibility, respect for others and a drive to succeed in life that perhaps isn’t there before young people take up the sport. Was this the case with yourself? Has training made you a better person outside the ring, as well as a better boxer in it?”

CH: “Boxing has definitely made me better person. It’s turned my life around. Before boxing, I was just a kid on the street, messing up.I was breaking all the rules, just being a typical kid from the bush I guess! Training for boxing gave me discipline. I began training every day and focusing on becoming a better boxer. Without boxing I don’t know what I’d be doing”

CE: “Your stock is growing fast, and long may that continue. Is there anything else you’d like to say to your growing legion of fans out there before we sign off?”

CH: “Firstly, I’d like to thank all the boxing fans out there who make our great sport what it is. I’d like to thank Ricky Hatton and of course Jason Cohen, John Hui and Jay Lau from Hatton Promotions Asia Pacific. It’s always a bit daunting turning pro, but these guys have been first class all the way. Many thanks to my managers for their guidance and of course to my trainer Gareth Williams, for getting me in fighting shape! I’m looking forward to some big things in 2013! People can follow me on twitter @CHammondBoxing” 

CE: “Thanks for your time Cameron, it’s much appreciated. Good luck for the future and keep up the good work”

CH: “Thanks very much, always a pleasure”