30.12.03 – ***Writers note: On December 30th I submitted a story to Eastside Boxing about a fighter from Denmark named Ahmed “Baby Face” Kaddour. When I interviewed him, I did not have or was not aware of the resources available to me to verify some of what he had said. As a result, it is with sincere regret that I have to retract some of what I had written because it has been brought to my attention that even today, Ahmed “Baby Face” Kaddour is largely an unknown boxer even within the boxing community in his homeland (Denmark). Perhaps some will debate that point but the sentiment that he is “Michael Jordan-Like” in popularity has been quite the contrary by all accounts. In other parts of Europe, perhaps he is extremely popular but needless to say, I should have only written what I could verify and thus far the feedback has been that he is very marginal in popularity even within boxing circles in Europe. As a result I take full responsibility for the error. The situation was awkward and I was not aware of some of the contacts available to me- but again, it was my mistake. Moreover, the retraction needs to be done because to be plain and simple-it’s the truth and what was written before was not. Hence, I have made some changes to the piece and in other areas in addition to the aforementioned. Thank you and please read on.
By Carlos “Stiff-jab” Kalinchuk: Benjamin Franklin once said, “Well done is better than well said.” Although boxing has had its share of great athletes, it has also had its fair share of charlatans and fakes. Many a fighter and promoter have stood on podiums and street corners claiming that “they” and not PT Barnum are the “greatest show on earth” only to fall flat on their faces. In due time, we will find out if Jr. Middleweight and Super Welterweight Ahmed “Baby-Face” Kaddour appears to be the first rather than the latter.
While he can currently walk into most boxing arenas, and no one would notice him, women take notice. Some have said, including himself that he is better looking than his idol, Oscar DelaHoya. He may be right, but he is clearly not beyond telling you so himself, “I know I’m good looking” says Ahmed. “The Spanish women call me ‘Pappi Chulo.’ After fights, I get together with my team and we celebrate and have fun with some girls and then after we that, I’m thinking about my next fight. I cannot settle down right now. My focus is boxing and that’s it. I don’t mind having fun with girls but afterwards, it’s back to boxing. When they go crazy and stuff, I just tell them that I have a girlfriend because my life is boxing.”
Additionally, Ahmed also believes he is the best and will tell you so without blinking. Obviously, this has resulted in some angst towards the young fighter from a multitude of fans. But like another fighter we all remember with a Muslim name (Naseem Hamed), Ahmed Kaddour will tell you so. Is Ahmed another Naseem Hamed ready to be exposed to the world? It won’t be long before we find out. However, Kaddour sees himself differently.
“The money is in the 154 lb division. I think when I finish my contract out; the people will see more of me. Right now I can fight in the US, but I need the permission of my Promoters Modern Sports and Events. HBO is interested in me and they have contacted me and once my contract expires, I will be looking at doing something with them. Perhaps sign a long-term deal and work with Bob Arum as my promoter. I am under contract in Europe for a year and a half more so I have to meet that obligation but after that, I’ll be doing something with HBO for sure. In time I will start to be ranked, that I promise. As a professional, I’m interested in being number one. Number 2 I have never been. Always number one. I’ve been a Golden Boxer my whole life.“
“My dream in two years is to fight Oscar DelaHoya. I will beat him and he’ll be two years older so I think that will happen if he’s still boxing, but I’m in no hurry. I want to be in boxing 10 years and I’m not interested in just making a million dollars and then leaving or getting out. I want to be here for a long time. I love boxing. I want to do everything it takes to be World Champion. I want to be world champion. Like Islam says if I focus on myself then I won’t need to focus on my family and they will be taken care of.”
Unfortunately were it not for his current contractual status with Modern Sports and Events, perhaps more people would have heard of him by now. He’s currently 17-0 as a pro with 7 KO’s and just like Oscar; he’s a lefty who fights right-handed. His smile is infectious and his skills are said to be above average. The critique and the compliments have come abundantly but again, we’ll soon find out if he’s the real deal.
So what has this confidant and cocky almost 22-year-old Lebanese born fighter fighting out of Denmark done as an amateur you ask? He’s won 43 Gold Medals and put together a record of 70 wins with only 3 defeats. Those defeats occurred during tournament boxing clubs competing against each other and all three of those defeats occurred on enemy soil where the fights were scored by the closest of margins 3-2, 3-2, and 3-2.
Another oddity is that he happened to be raised in Denmark. Why did a Lebanese born boxer move to Denmark? The simple albeit general answer is in one simple word. Opportunity. Ahmed lived in Lebanon one year before his parents packed up and moved to Denmark. And by the way, he’s a Muslim and proud of it! “I pray 5 times a day and I go to mosque every Friday and I observe Ramadan.
So why would a Muslim born Lebanese national fighting out of Denmark become a Prize Fighter? That answer is also simple. He hated to lose. His boxing career started from his absolute distaste for defeat as a 9-10 year old youth playing soccer. When he was young, he (admittedly) played on a team that lost every time it played. Although he played his best, the taste of defeat tore him up inside. The disgust and misery from losing on the soccer field took him into the boxing ring after each game where he would take out his frustrations on people in the ring after the soccer game. It was Ahmed’s therapeutic way of pounding out his anger. Of course that was therapeutic for Ahmed, but painful for others.
Soon after, the boxing teams coach Jan Theellemand, asked him to forget soccer and concentrate on boxing. He was on a losing team, and his raw skills were such that moving away from soccer became an easier decision. Although the soccer players played soccer, both teams (soccer/boxing) dressed in the same locker room so the change was not too drastic for the young neophyte boxer.
Theellemand immediately took the young tiger under his wing and began to refine him and two days after deciding on a boxing career, he had his first Amateur bout. In short order, he knocked the other guy out. He would continue to impress early on, as he took on one of the Danish National boxing teams best fighter, who sported a record of 81-13. With hardly any Amateur fights to his credit, he won. Although surprising to most, the confident Ahmed knew he would dominate and that he had found his niche/calling. “I hate to lose. To me, I don’t care if it’s a journeyman or whomever, I train to win and I will put my life on the line to come out on top. I don’t care. To me, it’s do or die.”
Ahmed says “it all started in the beginning with his first coach Theellemand. We would train in the early morning, and then I would go to school. When I got out, I would go back and train and work out but Theelemand and I would spend almost two-three hours after training each day talking about nothing but boxing, motivation, and focus. To this day, he is the best Trainer I’ve ever had. He taught me that if I tried to do boxing and soccer or that if I tried to do boxing and anything else, I would not be great and I would never become what I could become or reach my full potential. To this day, I tell myself in the mirror I want, I can, I know! I turned pro at 18 and I know it’s not enough to just work hard. I have to work hard and say to myself I want, I can, I know. I don’t drink and I have never smoked. I don’t mess with girls except for after the fights and I eat right and sleep right. I Train for 2 months for each fight and I treat every fighter like a big name. I take no one lightly!”
During this period, Ahmed was even in the Danish/Scandinavian Army for one year where he served as a Fireman. For four months, he would train in the mornings, go to work, and then train again in the evenings with Theelamand. It was and continues to be demanding to say the least. “Because of my lifestyle, I’ve lost a lot of friends. But I know this is the way it has to be, if I’m going to be a Champion some day.”
After becoming a Pro, Ahmed could no longer train with Theelamand. The conflict of having a Danish National Amateur training coach, and a Professional boxer are such that Theelamand, could not do both. Much like in America, Professional boxers are seen as an independent money making entity whereas Olympic and National team participants are seen different. Nevertheless, Ahmed has become a man on his own in spite of the absence of his much-admired coach. “He was the best coach/trainer I’ve ever had.” Ahmed has even learned Spanish from his travels and he doesn’t mind talking to anyone willing to get a word with him. Needless to say, hunger is something Ahmed doesn’t lack.
He currently resides in Houston, Texas and is signed up with fulltime Rap Mogul and part time Boxing Manager James Prince of Rap-a lot-records. “My experience with him has been good. I’ve heard a lot but he’s followed through on everything he’s said to me and I respect him for that.”
Ahmed’s only hiatus from the sport came in 2000 when a broken left hand resulted in hand surgery. Although he tried to delay the process, he eventually succumbed to the knife and had surgery. The result has been good, as Ahmed will attest. “The hand operation worked wonders. It is perfect now and I don’t feel a thing. I think with more time, I will be even better now that my hand is fine and now all I need is time.”
Although the decision to choose boxing was a happy moment for Ahmed, not everyone was happy. He added: “When I decided to box, my Dad was very happy. My father was a big help for me. My mom (on the other hand) hated it! She did not want to see her son get hit in the face. She said, you’re pretty and if you get hit in the face, nobody will want to marry you.”
His mother deals with his boxing career like many mothers. “My mother has never seen me fight in person. She will record the fight and then change the channel to one of her programs and then after she knows I won, she will watch it.” Ahmed is rich in family as he is one of 6 siblings. “There’s 4 girls and 2 boys and I love them and we are very close” says Ahmed.
In closing, Ahmed has the looks but does he have “the stuff” boxing is yearning for as Oscar is eyeing retirement after his fight with Hopkins? Will Vitaly Klitchko be the torchbearer for boxing as Lennox Lewis and Oscar DelaHoya have been in the past few years or can this confident and as some would say, “arrogant and cocky” kid (that hated losing at soccer) show the boxing world a thing or two about the thrill of victory and NOT the agony of defeat? Only time will tell. That is a certainty. His prowess in the ring is sparking excitement in some boxing circles. His Manager James Prince, says, “I think Ahmed is a quiet storm.” But like a bag of tea, we will know in quick time what he’s made of when the heat gets turned up in the ring; and if he plans to be great and not a journeyman, that is a certainty! He will get tested. How will he respond? My gut feeling says, “well.” How well? We shall soon see. As Ahmed says, “I know that everything comes from God, when God wants it to.” We’ll be waiting.
Carlos “Stiff-jab” Kalinchuk
Contributing Writer & Photographer