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Up Close And Personal With Returning Champ Mark Prince



 Up Close And Personal With Returning Champ Mark Prince Photo by Gianluca (Rio) Di Caro – A few weeks ago it was announced that former WBO and IBF Inter-Continental Light Heavyweight Champion, and World title challenger, Mark Prince is set to make his return to competitive action, on the Dave Murphy Acourtier Events promoted ‘NIGHT OF CHAMPIONS’ at York Hall, in London, on Friday 4th October.

Earlier this week I was lucky enough to catch up with the man known simply as ‘The Prince’, but before we get the interview I think a bit of scene setting would be in order, for those that have not had the pleasure of seeing Mark in action the first time around, with an abridged version of Mark’s excellent career.

On the 4th April 1993, Mark made short work of his first pro opponent, Birmingham’s Bobby Mack, by stopping him in the second round, early baths followed for both his next pair of opponents, John Kaighin and Art Stacey, Kaighin only made it to the third and Mark knocked out Stacey in the second.

His fourth opponent, Simon McDougall, did manage to go the distance but it was to be eight bouts later until the next opponent, American Lenzie Morgan, went the distance with ‘The Prince’.

Newcastle’s John Pierre also went the distance in Mark’s next fight, but after that it was almost two years before any opponent made it to the final bell.

Manchester’s Maurice ‘Hard’ Core lasted seven rounds, Leeds based Welshman Michael Gale lasted six rounds before Mark hit the Championship trail.

On the 11th September 1997 Mark faced American Bruce Rumbolz, for the WBO Inter-Continental title. Once again Mark made short work of things, stopping Rumbolz after just one minute and fifty one seconds of the third round.

In December Mark made his first defense, against Chicago’s USA’s Wayne Hankins, of his newly acquired title, Hankin’s faired only slightly better than Rumbolz, well lasted forty two seconds longer.

Mark then faced seriously tough American Kenny Whack, for the IBF Inter-Continental title. After twelve hard fought rounds ‘The Prince’ added the prestigious IBF belt to his collection.

On the 19th September 1998 Mark challenged long time WBO World Light Heavyweight King Dariusz Michalczewski. at the Arena Oberhausen in Germany, for his crown.

It was a cracking very close all action bout, that was until with just ten seconds to go in the eighth round Michalczewski landed a short sharp left hook to send Mark crashing to the canvas.

Two months later Mark returned to action, against Kevin Mitchell – no not Dagenham’s ‘Mighty’ Kevin Mitchell, but the Greenwich Cruiserweight – who Mark summarily dispatched in just forty three seconds of the first round.

Mark retired from the sport shortly after with a 19 win (15 by way of KO) and just the single loss.

Post boxing Mark dedicated himself to helping disadvantaged youngsters, by coaching and mentoring them.

Then just a few short years later Mark’s life changed dramatically, following the murder of his son Kiyan, a prodigious young footballer who played for Queens Park Rangers.

This personal tragedy spurred Mark to create the Kiyan Prince Foundation, www.kiyan.org – a not-for-profit organization that is committed to creating a legacy for Kiyan, by the combating of knife crime and other forms of youth violence.

Since creating the Kiyan Prince Foundation Mark has further dedicated his life to educating youngsters and campaigning for legislation on the carrying of knives. Mark was instrumental, along with then Mayor of London Ken Livingstone, in the lobbying for knife crime to be introduced into the Violent Crime Reduction act that went before Parliament and received Royal assent in November 2006.

On Monday I caught up with Mark at the TRAD TKO Boxing Gym in Canning Town, where he was one of various well known boxers that were being interviewed, by BT Sport – www.btsport.com – for a special feature that will be aired this evening, Wednesday 4th September.

Rio:So Mark, you’re making a comeback on October 4th, why now?

Mark:Yeah I make my comeback on October 4th.

Basically life’s been a fight, so I figured that why not fight in the ring again.

I’m fighting everyday, after my son was killed, mentally, emotionally.

I’m fighting to help other parents’ kids to recognize that putting knives and guns down is the way forward, so that they can be setting up a future for themselves and myself for the pain I feel.

I’m fighting for a different cause, before when I was fighting it was about taking me from a kid that was going nowhere, I was on the streets, hustling, doing criminal activities to make money and it’s taken me from there to box to raise my game and become somebody.

Now my focus and purpose is different, the focus and the purpose is about inspiration, firstly to inspire myself to know that from this terrible incident that something great can come from it.

You can dig deep, build something strong and positive, while you’re doing that other people can be impacted by that and it will affect the community in a positive way.

I’m hoping that me coming back is going to affect my community, and show young people that this kid from the streets made himself into a world class fighter and after the tragedy happened that I can come straight back again, with determination, focus, sacrifice and continue my journey.

Rio:A lot of people reading this may not know what had happened to your son, so please tell us more and about the charity you set up.

Mark:On the 18th May 2006 my son Kiyan Prince, who was fifteen years old, was a top striker in the youth team for Queens Park Rangers and he was destined for great things, they had plans to put him into the first team and he was doing so well, great potential and he was stabbed outside his school trying to stop a fight, he went over to break it up and the boy pulled a knife out and stabbed him in the heart.

Since then there’s been a huge amount of media attention around it, because my son was a top striker and obviously I’ve been a world class fighter and I’ve continued to help the young people on the streets.

It’s taken a while, working doing the campaign to put the guns and knives down, working with the newspapers and many other things, it’s not stopped I’ve continued doing things since then to create a legacy for my son and to provide young people the opportunities, inspire them and educate them that this isn’t the way forward.

Young people are made for great purpose and they just need to be able to see that and build their self-esteem, that’s what’s happening with the Kiyan Prince foundation.

Rio:I know that was painful for you and appreciate you speaking about it with me. Now to the boxing, British Champion, Inter-Continental Champion and World title challenger, you had a great career the first time around.

Mark:Yeah IBF and WBO Inter-Continental Champion, former #1 in Britain, former #1 WBO and mandatory challenger for the title.

I fought a guy called Dariusz Michalczewski, my only loss on a twenty fight record, 15 knockouts, I was 18-0 at the time and he was 38-0 at the time, the odds were against me and nobody thought I could win, I put up a great fight, showed the warrior in me and went out with my shield.

Rio:Your return, it’s not just about coming back for the odd fight, I understand you’re coming back looking for Championship honours, is that right?

Mark:Yeah, I’m coming back looking for Championships, that’s who I am, I’m a warrior at the highest level, the worse thing that can happen is that I lose, no big deal I’ve lost a lot more than a fight in my life, this is nothing to me, this is the easy part of my life.

The first time I boxed, I thought boxing was the toughest thing anyone could go through, obviously I’ve learned differently and now it’s a pleasure to put the gloves back on and train hard.

My motto is ‘It’s only pain’, so what the hell it’s served me well and I think I’m going to surprise a lot of people, I’m in wonderful condition and the power never goes anywhere, fifteen guys of the nineteen wins never saw the end of the bout so whoever is in my category is in a lot of trouble.

Rio:I understand you’re coming back at Cruiserweight?

Mark:Yeah, I spent too much time struggling with weight last time, that contributed, although I’m not taking anything away from the guy that beat me, but it contributed in my condition on the night.

I would never advise any boxer to struggle to make weight, just to fight comfortable is right, don’t kill yourself, go in comfortable as it’s good for your health and less blood clots on the brain and other damage.

Rio:That’s a valid point as not a lot of people realize the damage making weight has on the body and more importantly the loss of fluids that protect the brain.

Mark:There’s no way you can rehydrate in time, it’s about understanding the game, understanding what you need to do to safeguard yourself and coming in at a weight you can manage and that’s comfortable for you to lessen the degree of damage that can happen.

You need the fluid around the brain, you need the fluid in your body and the last thing you need to do is dry yourself out, because that’s your defense mechanism in the fight.

You lose a number of pounds in the fight, so if you’ve already drained yourself of fluid you suddenly find yourself in problems.

There’s been calls for rehydration fluids to be used, but the BBBofC and others in control will not allow it.

It’s not that you’ll become a superman and the next round you’ll be amazing, it’s the rehydration could help, whatever help the fighters can get to improve that part of their safety, not boxing but the chances of any damage being greatly reduced and I think that this should be put in place.

Rio:I couldn’t agree more – my next question is sparring, who have you been sparring?

Mark:Yeah, most of the sparring I called for myself, including Nathan Cleverly early this year, Don Charles had been nice enough to ask him for me.

It was wonderful, I have great respect for Nathan Cleverly, he’s a great individual, he was nice enough to let me come in and spar with him and it was good.

I needed to know what I had left and I hadn’t had any real competitive sparring for over ten years, but if I have anything then I can prove it at the time or would Nathan Cleverly totally outclass me, I needed to know if I could compete still compete at anywhere around that level and what I had left.

The sparring allowed to see where I was and I was really pleased, obviously I didn’t dominate or anything, let’s be realistic this guy’s been fighting all the time, I haven’t been at world level for a while so I wasn’t going to do Nathan any damage, but what I did find out is that I can see punches, slip, move nicely.

Nathan told me how he found it in there with me, he said to me himself ‘my friend you could go back in at Cruiser and do a lot of damage, so I think you should go back and make a come back’. We filmed it, I think you can find that on You Tube, so that’s there.

From there I went on to help Wadi Camacho, who was mixing with Don Charles and some of the guys in his camp, worked with Frank Buglioni, here at the TRAD TKO gym, wonderful young prospect and a really nice guy is Frank, I really wish him all the best.

I think all this kind of work has only helped for me to understand where I am in the game, show me how much knowledge I do have and how sharp I still am, so all I’ve done is improve over the past nine months.

Every single time I spar, whenever I go in I help Wadi, I helped him prepare for his Prizefighter, I personally would like to think that I was partially responsible for his success, he has said so himself that I was responsible by helping him to prepare and win Prizefighter, he’s the one fighting but it’s really important who you working with, to prepare for that fight

The quality he got from me was top class, I say that without trying to blow my own trumpet, Wadi got quality sparring and everyone could see it on the day, his family could see his improvement.

I’m intelligent about the work I am doing and it’s about the things I am doing, how much sparring I’m doing, how much running, so I think I’m a different man, obviously because of what I’ve been through.

All the time I’ve been out I’ve always focused on being fit, I’ve never lived bad, I’ve trained, I use my training skills to help young people, from 2002, before my son was killed I was into youth work, I was using my boxing to help motivate kids, to do boxing classes and training them up with fitness.

I was always working and was sharp, I just wasn’t at world class boxing level, that’s all, but my body was always in good nick.

Rio: Is there anything you would like to say to your fans?

Mark: Don’t forget it’s at York Hall on October 4th, so let’s ram out the place for the return of the Prince.

Watch this space, follow me on Facebook and Twitter (@markno1prince) for more news.

Mark Prince, against a yet to be named opponent, with feature on the undercard of the double World Title headed Dave Murphy’s Acourtier Events, promoted ‘NIGHT OF CHAMPIONS’ event, which takes place at York Hall in Bethnal Green, London, on Friday 4th October 2013.

Tickets, priced £35 (Standard Seated) and £60 (Ringside) are available on-line at www.tkoboxoffice.com – www.mariannemarston.com – www.acourtier.com – or in person from the TRAD TKO Boxing Gym in Canning town – www.tkoboxinggym.com – and Ringtone Gym in Euston – www.ringtonehealthandfitness.com – or from any of the boxers taking part in the event, or call – 07960 850645, 07809 499896 or 07557 641597 for further information.