Leading Aussie trainer Billy Hussein interview

Interview by Elyas Khaliqi: ESB had the opportunity to catch up with one of Australia’s leading trainers, Billy Hussein. The brother of champion boxers Hussein and Nedal Hussein, Billy Hussein has been in the corner of some of the biggest names in Australian boxing. He is currently in training camp, preparing his charge, Billy ‘The Kid’ Dib, for his world title fight on July 29th at the State Sports Centre, in Homebush.

Billy runs the Body Punch Academy in Sydney’s west. Hussy (Hussein), Skinny (Nedal) and Billy's understudy, youngest brother Maz, expertly guide the careers of a formidable stable of fighters. Billy’s parents migrated from Lebanon at the height of civil unrest in that country. The Hussein brothers have been fine role models for young Australians, especially those of Lebanese heritage. Neither brother has ever been in the headlines for the wrong reasons and they will go down as one of the greatest boxing families this country has produced.

ESB : Hey Billy, thanks for taking the time out of a busy schedule to chat with ESB.

BH: No worries.

ESB: First of all, how did you and your brothers get into boxing?

BH: We lived around the corner from the Belmore PCYC, and a family friend of ours used to box there at the time. We didn’t even know boxing existed there at the time. He asked us what we do for sport and we said nothing. So he asked us to come to the gym and in 1987 we went and haven’t been out of the gym since.

ESB: Which fighters are currently training at Body Punch academy?

BH: To be honest with you we’ve got a really strong stable at the moment. Obviously there’s Garth Wood, we have Paul ‘Showtime” Fleming, who’s fighting in America July 9. Billy ‘The Kid” Dib, Mohamad Elomar, Ahmed Elomar, alot of up and coming fighters and experienced fighters like Nadar Hamdan as well.

ESB: What are your brothers, Skinny and Hussy, up to these days?

BH: Hussy is full time at the gym, he helps me a lot with the fighters. Skinny owns a car yard but whenever I need an extra hand at the gym he’s always there. My younger brother Maz, has been a sort of understudy from day one and he’s amazing. Without him I couldn’t do the job that I do. We are a team here at the gym, my brothers and I. I might get a lot of the recognition and that but I can tell you now, I couldn’t do half of what I’m doing now without their help.

ESB: How are preparations coming along for Billy ‘The Kid’ Dib’s world title fight next month?

BH: Yeah that’s going to be on July 29th at the State Sports Centre in Homebush, it’s going to be an amazing event. It’s a ‘ridgey didge’ world title he’s fighting for, the IBF world title. It’s his second shot at a world title. Even though he won the lowly IBO world title, Billy doesn’t count that as a world title. He fought for the WBO title and lost that one in America. We’ve been to Perth to train at high altitude and we’re at the Gold Coast at the moment and we have some unbelievable sparring partners. Actually they are more than just sparring partners. They are world class fighters themselves. We’ve got Joel Brunker in camp, number six in the world, undefeated in 18 fights. We have Dan Ianazo, who is number nine in the world. We’ve got Paul Fleming who’s nine and 0. We’ve got the younger guys and when we get back home , we’re going to have Will Tomlinson and Lenny Zappavigna, so we’ve got the best of the best to help prepare Billy for the world title shot. So we’re exactly where we want to be and there’s no complaints and I’m really happy at the moment with everything. Billy’s manager has done an excellent job and we’ve got a really strong team.

ESB: Have you always been a trainer or did you fight yourself?

BH: No I fought as well. I started boxing same time as my brothers and I fought until I was about sixteen. I had twenty four amateur fights. Then I took the reins as a trainer. Not many people know but I’ve trained three Olympians. I trained my brother Hussy for the 1996 Olympics. I trained Brad Hall for the Sydney 2000 Olympics and I trained a fighter by the name of Anush Mirian for the2004 Olympics. So not only pros but I’ve trained some very good amateur boys and not many guys have trained three Olympians, so I’ve done that and I’m pro really proud of myself for training three Olympians and about thirty world title fights. I’ve trained Vic Darchinyan, Ben Rabah, both my brothers, Danny Green, Nadar Hamdan just to name a few, so yeah again I’m proud of my achievements so far as a young trainer.

ESB: Well you are considered one of Australia’s leading trainers, and your work with Garth Wood has been phenomenal, any chance of a Wood- Mundine III happening any time soon?

BH: I can’t see that happening soon to be honest. Khoder Nasser and Anthony Mundine did an amazing job to help us out. You know if it wasn’t for Anthony being involved in the Contender, Garth wouldn’t have gotten the recognition that he now has. For a guy that’s had ten fights and do what he did in a short time was great. We worked hard for both fights and we had a game plan and unfortunately in the rematch which we couldn’t pull through. I can’t see them fighting soon. They are on different paths at the moment. We’re targeting Daniel Geale.

ESB: What did you think of Geale’s title winning effort in Germany?

BH: Mate I think it was an unbelievable achievement for the guy to go over there and win the fight. It’s near impossible to go there and win a fight. We’re just so proud that a fellow Australian has gone over there and done it. So obviously Daniel is up there as the best pound for pound fighter in Australia at the moment and Garth is chasing his IBF belt. Daniel is the guy in the division at the moment and he’s the guy we want to fight. I mean Garth and Anthony might fight again later on down the track but at the moment they both have to fulfil other commitments and Daniel is the man at Middleweight so that’s who we want to fight.

ESB: Have there been any negotiations for a Geale vs Wood fight?

BH: No not right now. Garth is looking to get back on track with a few victories. Garth is going to be fighting for the IBF Pan Pacific middleweight title against Johans Mwetepunga, who is the current Australian champion, and that will be on August 26th. That’s going to be a tough fight for Garth. And then maybe a Shannan Taylor fight after that. And I think if he can get past those two opponents, the team at The Grange Boxing, might give Garth a shot at Daniel Geale. Garth has to prove himself though, he’s got to get a couple of tough victories over quality opponents, and I think getting past Mwetepunga is a step in the right direction for a fight with Daniel Geale.

ESB: What do you think of the Australian boxing scene at the moment?

BH: I think the Australian boxing scene is very, very strong at the moment. I think we’ve got some amazing talent. I mean just have a look at the young guys coming through at the moment. Everybody seen what Daniel Geale did. Billy Dib is soon going to be fighting for a world title. Young Paul Fleming is the best fighter out there at the moment with less than ten fights to his name. Trent Broadhurst from Queensland is another young up and coming fighter. I reckon Sakio Bika is one of the toughest guys out there at the moment. No one wants to fight him. Lenny Zappavigna is always exciting. Will Tomlinson and Joel Brunker just to name a few. There are a lot of great youngsters in WA at the moment. You know at the moment we’re one of the strongest nations. With the amount of boxers we have registered, it’s phenomenal how many fighters we have ranked in the top ten. I mean pound for pound we’re one of the strongest nations.

ESB: Your interests and hobbies out of the ring?

BH: I’m a mad rugby league fan. Go the Bulldogs. I follow it religiously. I watch the Super Saturday every week and I listen to the continuous call team on radio every weekend without fail. I follow the other combat sports. I watch the UFC, I watch the kickboxing. Yeah I’m a big fan of the other combat sports and obviously the EPL soccer

ESB: You’re a real sports buff.

BH: Yeah mate I love it, I can’t live without it. I like getting out to live shows as well. I really enjoy the live shows.

ESB: Your favourite fighters growing up as a kid.

BH: Well, Sugar Ray Leonard is probably my favourite of all time. I’m a mad Joe Louis fan. I really loved Ricardo Lopez, one of the greatest Mexicans of all time. On the Australian scene, obviously Jeff Fenech, he was the man when I was growing up. In the modern era, I’m a big fan of Anthony Mundine. I like his style in and out of the ring. I think he’s an entertainer and out of the ring he’s a gentleman.

ESB: Well Billy it’s been a pleasure, thanks again for taking time out during training camp for Billy ‘The Kid’ Dib’s world title fight to talk and we’ll catch up again soon.

BH: No worries any time.

Article posted on 18.06.2011

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