Exclusive Interview: Joseph KingKong Agbeko Speaks
By Vivek Wallace - Boxing is one of the few sports in the world that consist of year round global action, pinning one passionate country against another . Typically, the countries of the world known as 'super-powers' lead the pack in every statistical category, but considering that boxing is more about effort than economics, the only determining factor in who stands on top in the end is the determination of them men themselves, which may explain a growing trend in the sport where those countries which remain hungry (for food as well as a better way of life) excel far beyond the reach of those who have forgotten the hard work it took for them to get where they now stand. As the eye of the sport continues to shift away from America, we usher in an era filled with rising stars from less fortunate countries. Behind the Philippines and others, eager to join those ranks is Ghana, a land that once gave us the sport the likes of Azumah Nelson, Ike Quartey, Joshua Clottey, and now emerging from the shadows is another man. That man....Mr. Joseph KingKong Agbeko. From his name, to his ability, everyone has questions, but after next Saturday night, if he can help it, few of those questions will remain. I had a chance to catch up with Joseph Agbeko recently, and here's what the champion had to say:
Article posted on 29.10.2009
VW: Joseph, with your fight roughly a week from now, I'm sure your mindset is shifting into fight mode. Before we get into the fight itself, tell me, how did your training camp go?
JA: So far, so good. Everything was fine. I'm more than ready for the fight next Saturday. I have no complaints.
VW: When I look at Perez, I see a guy who is very dangerous and highly rated, but what do I know? I'm just a writer (laughs). What are your thoughts on Yhonny Perez as your next opponent?
JA: Well, I also think he's a very good fighter. He's the IBF #1 ranked competitor, so that says a lot, but I love fights like this. They hype me up, because I know I'm not going in there to fight just anyone. It's someone competitive and it's someone prepared, so it makes me train hard and prepare to fight real good.
VW: I want to take a quick trip down memory lane, champ. I remember back in July of this year, I not only had the opportunity to watch you train leading up to the Vic Darchinyan fight, but I was on hand at ringside to witness it. Going into that fight, many viewed you as the underdog, which I think had more to do with you not being as popular; but I felt all along - knowing your background - that you were gonna be a very difficult fight for him, and by the end of the night, everyone else found that out as well. My question.....did being a somewhat disrespected underdog in that fight help you achieve the victory?
JA: You always have to face the best to become the best. I don't want to fight lesser opponents. I want to keep fighting people who have ability and believe in themselves because I believe in myself and I know this was my time and no one can stop me. In that fight, I was completely confident in myself, and by God's grace, I came out with the victory.
VW: When you look around at the super-bantamweight division, you see big names like Lopez and Caballero. Is there any consideration being given to perhaps one day moving up in weight to face them, or will you stay where you are and tackle guys like Montiel?
JA: After my fight with Darchinyan, Montiel was calling my name, saying that he wants to fight me, so I have to give him the chance to fight me. Also, I'm thinking of fighting Hasagwa. He's the WBC champion, and he has to come to America to prove he is a true champion. So it will be Montiel or him, first.
VW: Boxing is global, and that's why I love it. We've seen Manny Pacquiao establish a legacy for his country, we've seen other international fighters either establish or continue a legacy for theirs as well. How does it make you feel to follow the footsteps and carry the torch of guys like Azumah Nelson, Ike Quartey, and Joshua Clottey for your country of Ghana?
JA: It feels great. I feel so happy and proud to be Ghanaian, and I will always fight strong to give a good name for Ghana. I'm working hard to continue what those before me already started.
VW: Aside from the greats of your country, who would you say was your favorite fighter all-time?
JA: I love to watch old fights of Muhammad Ali and 'Sugar' Ray Leonard. Those are the guys I want to be like.
VW: Looking at today's era, there are a new breed of fighters in comparison. Two of which will be squaring off shortly. Who do you like in the Pacquiao/Cotto showdown?
JA: Boxing is funny because fighters see a side the fans don't. As a fan, you see one man against another. But as a boxer, you learn that some fights you think are gonna be very hard and they turn out to be the easiest, and some fights you think will be very easy and they turn out to be the most difficult. That's why all you can do is train very hard and be prepared. I just want both men to do that, and in the end, may the best man win.
VW: Before we wrap up this segment, there's one question EVERYBODY has, and I want each of them to walk away knowing the answer after reading this piece. Your name.... King Kong.... Tell the readers how it came about and what was the inspiration.
JA: It was a dream...a vision. Some people in my country say a good name is better than riches because it will always be yours and it follows you through life. For me, it was the name my Father chose. When I was younger, I would say "wow, why did my Dad name me King Kong"? As I got older, I realized that God asked my Dad to give me that name because he had a bigger plan for me to prove who I am to the world. There was a purpose for the name and I plan to honor God and my Father by serving that purpose.
VW: Wow, as a man who's not only a Father, but walks according to a certain vision myself, that's beautiful, champ.... The last thing I want to ask you is for any parting words or thoughts to those out there that have supported you over the years.
JA: I just want to tell all of my supporters that I appreciate all of the support. Without you, there is no me, and your support makes me go higher and higher. America should get ready for me, the world should get ready for me, and you all are gonna see me at my best. I want to be not only a champion, but one day mentioned as a pound-for-pound great like Ali, Leonard, Robinson, and others. And I will do that for each of you.
[Tune in on Saturday, Halloween, October 31st, on SHOWTIME as Joseph KingKong Agbeko squares off against Yhonny Perez - Check your local listings for fight time]
(Vivek Wallace can be reached at email@example.com, 954-292-7346, YouTube (VIVEK1251), Twitter (VIVEK747), www.vivekwallace.com, Facebook, and Myspace)
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