Chris Evangelou Interview
Enfield stars Chris and Andreas Evangelou make their debuts for new promoter Frank Warren on the big Copper Box Arena show on Saturday 30th November, headlined by European Heavyweight Champion Dereck Chisora, plus British and Commonwealth Middleweight Champion Billy Joe Saunders, unbeaten super-middleweight star Frank Buglioni, plus Bradley Skeete v Colin Lynes for the Vacant English Welterweight title.
Tickets from £40 are available now from Eventim on 0844 249 1000 or eventim.co.uk
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Name: Chris Evangelou
Born: Middlesex Hospital
Family background: I’ve two older brothers and a younger sister. Dad was into the martial arts but my eldest brother, Phodis, boxed between the ages of 15-17 and was trained by (former European heavyweight champion) Gary Mason and (ex pro) Carlton Warren.
However, he opted to go the academic route. The Greek mentality is to go out and make money. He’s now got a Master’s degree in psychology but still helps us out. He’s so knowledgeable.
Another brother, Andreas, is unbeaten in nine as a professional light-heavyweight. I live with him. We’re both single and 100% focussed on our boxing careers.
Trade: I’m very fortunate that, thanks to the support of my father, I’ve been able to train full-time. Previously, I was an actor. I studied drama at college, attended Richmond Drama School and did other courses at night school. Both professions are very time demanding so I needed to commit to one. I can always go back to the acting later.
Nickname: ‘The Flash’. It was given to me in 2007 by a coach called Jorge Ayala at the Kingsway Boxing Club in Manhattan, New York, because of my speed.
What age did you become interested in boxing and why? I’d always been interested then, aged 17, I got into an argument outside my college and felt I could’ve handled the situation far better. So I went to the Haringey ABC to gain more confidence in a conflict situation and ended up having my first amateur bout at 18.
What do you recall of your amateur career? I started and ended at Haringey. I was loyal to them for six years. I trained there full-time, three hours a day, putting university on the back burner. My coaches were Chris Hall and Brian John.
I had 40 amateur bouts with 35 wins. At one stage, I went two full seasons undefeated. I won the Class B National Novice title for boxers with less than 20 contests. That was my amateur highlight. I was fighting every week and loads of my fans travelled up and down the country to support me.
Because I started so late, I needed to advance quite quickly and most I fought had twice my experience. Still, I got to the London final of the senior ABAs but was beaten by Gary Barker, a slick southpaw who was very hard to hit. Two weeks after our fight, Gary (younger brother of reigning IBF middleweight champion Darren Barker) was killed in a car crash; a very sad time.
I represented England a few times. I won six gold medals at various international BoxCups and fought against the SAS three times, winning all three. I also won gold at a Six Nations event in Limassol, in my home country of Cyprus. In the final I defeated a Russian who’d had something like 130 fights and 90 knockouts. That was very satisfying.
Because the Team GB situation was already sown up, I went to two qualifiers for the 2008 Olympics, representing Cyprus. The first was in Pescara (Italy), the second in Athens. There, I fought a German but every time he hit my elbow, he scored a point. Even then I had a very pro style.
My last loss came against (reigning Southern Area welter king) Bradley Skeete on a very close decision in the final of the Haringey Box Cup.
I’ve no regrets. The few I lost, I learned far more from than those I won. They helped me grow as a fighter.
Why did you decide to turn pro when you did? Twenty-three was just the right time. If you can fight, you can fight. I was always going to struggle at international amateur level because, firstly, I had a very pro style and, secondly, there are so many little (infringements) that the refs keep picking you up on.
Tell us about your back up team: I’m managed by my dad Costa and I always will be. I’d not want anybody else. He’s not remotely money driven. Everything is done in my interest, not his.
After starting with Matchroom, I’m now promoted by Frank Warren and for the past six weeks, I’ve been trained by Don Charles. Before I was with a guy called Paulo Muhongo, my ex amateur coach. He was an Angolan but went to Cuba and made their Olympic team for 1984 in Los Angeles, only for the Cubans to boycott the Games. He was a fantastic technical coach.
But Don is showing me a more professional style and he’s also a real gentleman. Another guy called Luke Portanier helps with my strength and conditioning and supervises my hill sprints up Trent Park. He also sharpens me up on the pads. Very technical.
What’s your training schedule? Which parts do you most and least enjoy? I run five or six miles every evening on my own then train six days a week at ‘My Gym’ in Finchley. Some days I even double up my sessions.
I’m at the gym for ten o’clock. I warm up, have a skip, then do very intensive pads. Don puts his body suit on and he’s about 19stone. You can hit him with everything you’ve got but just can’t move him. I’ll always do more rounds of that, than the scheduled length of my fight.
After that, I’ll do bag work, a circuit, then a very intensive abs session. After cooling down, I’ll stretch for half an hour. On sparring days, it’ll be either pads or bag, not both.
Sparring is what I enjoy best. That’s when I get to show my skills. I’m on a natural high after a good spar. It puts me in such a good mood. I love everyone! Pads is a close second. Don is a very good motivator and, together, we make good music.
I’m not keen on long endurance circuits or the hill sprints. That’s the quickest way to get you tired.
Describe your style? What are your best qualities? I’ve got good technique. I thrive on being a perfectionist. My style is very US based. I throw shots from clever angles. I trained with Mayweather and his team so like to keep my left hand low down. Speed is my biggest attribute. I’m also a good thinker.
What specifically do you need to work on to fully optimise your potential as a fighter? I need to get more experience in the ring. Recently, I’ve had a hand op. Previously, the power in my right hand wasn’t there. Now I’ve got that back. I also need to sit down on my shots more.
What have you found to be the biggest difference between the pro and amateur codes? They’re different sports. At international amateur level, it’s about speed, technique and movement. You nick a point then run. Pro fights aren’t won like that. With the small gloves and longer fights, pro fighters have to be far tougher. Three minute rounds suit me much better.
Who is the best opponent that you’ve shared a ring with? Gary Barker was the best I fought. I sparred Junior Witter when he was a world champion plus Ajose Olusegun who was also very good.
At the Mayweather gym, I sparred a US national amateur champion from the weight above mine, called Semajay Thomas. He was a bit of a headhunter but very fast and hard. He really shone.
All time favourite fighter: Tyson. I was only seven or eight when he came out of prison but I remember him annihilating Frank Bruno (in the rematch). I loved his tenacity, that destroyer’s mentality.
All time favourite fight: Ward-Gatti I. They both hurt each other.
Which current match would you most like to see made? Andre Ward against Floyd Mayweather; two amazing technical fighters. Ward has the best chance of beating him but I still think Mayweather would find a way to work him out and win on points.
What is your routine on fight day? I’ll watch a film late the night before so that I sleep on until about midday. Then I’ll have a healthy breakfast. Some, after they’ve weighed-in, will eat junk but that can only make you sluggish. I’ll have porridge oats and wholewheat toast and eggs.
I might go for a walk then watch a film like ‘Braveheart’, ‘The Matrix’ or ‘300’; epic, emotional films. For my pre fight meal, I’ll have rice, chicken or salmon and some veg. I’ll have organic peanut butter to give me added fuel. After a shower, I have to pack my (kit) bag a certain way. Then I know I’m ready. I’ve a cross in my room and I’ll kneel and say a prayer.
Usually I’ll get to the venue between 5-6pm, see the doctor, then do all I can to relax. Perhaps listen to music.
Entrance music: ‘Here Comes The Boom’ by Nellie.
What are your ambitions as a boxer? I’m not in boxing to be a British champion. I’ve devoted my life to being world champion. Anything less, I’d consider that I’d failed.
How do you relax? I love the cinema. It was even nicer when I had a girlfriend! I used to play a lot of footy on Saturday mornings and was quick with my feet but stopped because I didn’t want to risk getting injured.
Football team: Arsenal. I always look out for their scores and become annoyed if they lose.
Read: I read a lot of motivational and psychology books, stuff that’s mentally stimulating. I like to keep the brain ticking.
Music: Absolutely everything. If you listened to what I run to, you’d think I was schizophrenic!
Films/TV: I like the rom-coms like ‘Love Actually’ and ‘Notting Hill’ plus epics like ‘300’. On the box, I’m a huge fan of ‘The Office’. I watch it almost every day. I’m also seriously into ‘Breaking Bad’.
Aspiration in life: To leave my footprint, change the world in some small way. Perhaps feed the starving. After I’ve gone, I’d like people to say they were happy Chris Evangelou had lived.
Motto: Pain is temporary, glory lasts forever!