Exclusive Zak Chelli Interview:
By Paul Oltai
I had the pleasure to catch up recently with the Frank Warren signed Super Middleweight hot prospect Zak Chelli current 4 fights into his professional career with a record of 4 fight and 4 wins. I spoke to him ahead of his next fight on the Seize the City show hosted by MTK London 13th July at the famous York Hall.
At just 20 years old and currently in his 2nd year of a business management degree at the University of Surrey Zak also manages to be a professional boxer as well. Currently training primarily from home by head train and father Zak Chelli Snr. Zak said
‘I am welcome in any gym in London so if there is sparring we go to them but I mainly train at home with my Dad who is my full-time trainer.’
Feeling sparring was a great place to start the interview I asked Zak what big names he had sparred so far?
‘Yeah well last year I sparred or well more recently I sparred George Groves. I have sparred George Groves, Eubank Jr and James DeGale and they are the 3 best Super Middles in Britain.’
How did you fair against these big names being a relative novice in professional game?
‘Yeah not to bad. George Groves did ask for 6 rounds but after 4 rounds he said stop he had done enough, but he did call us back and wanted 8 rounds but could only manage 6. We have been called back again so yeah let’s see what happens.’
What is your boxing history?
‘I used to box for Dale Youth. The same place DeGale and Groves came from. Also Times ABC, I was junior ABA champion, youth ABA champion and youth 3 nations champion. When I was 15 I boxed in the world championships and represented England in Ukraine where I finished 5th. I have also boxed in the Brandenburg Cup again representing England where I beat the European champion and yeah I boxed all over. My most recent was the 3 nations championship beating Ben Whittaker who is now GB number 1.’
I know you mentioned your Dad is your trainer. Is there anyone else involved in your camp?
“My father is my main trainer but when I do fight in my corner I have a seconds, which at the moment is John Edwards from Guildford City boxing club but things can vary so we will see what happens.’
‘My Dad has his past experiences so he is passing it on to me when doing my strength and conditioning etc. He does everything my strength and conditioning, my boxing the lot.’
So how do you feel your first 12 months as a pro have gone?
‘I am quite happy you know, I am grateful Frank Warren gave me 3 fights, but I was contracted to 5 but I know a couple of shows did get pulled and he does have a lot of fighters to sort out. I would have loved to have boxed more and got my name out there more and have more fights, but I am grateful what I have got done so far.’
What do you hope to happen over the next 12 months?
‘Well I mean I have been promised a Southern Area by September but there are circumstances that are changing and it has now become vacant, so we are still in talks with Frank Warren about that but I definitely want a title by the end of the year. We where trying to make the Chello Renda fight for September but I have heard Renda has now made it vacant so yeah we are still in talks for. Southern Area shot.’
Who do you see posing the biggest threat domestically?
‘I believe it is quite open for me at the moment because DeGale, Groves and Eubank Jr are all kind of passed that level and older and I believe they are going to move on soon, so I believe it’s a great opportunity for me to move forward and I don’t see any of the current domestic lot as a threat.’
I was quite impressed looking at your record that you had fought tough journeyman Adam Jones so early on in your career. How did you feel that went?
‘He done 8 rounds with Darryll Williams and Darryll lost a couple of rounds with him. He has fought Zack Parker as well another top guy. Adam Jones is very tough. I believe he was voted Britain’s toughest journeyman. Never been dropped and never lost by stoppage. I tried my best to do it. Maybe if I had the 8 against him I could have done but I only had a 6 rounder.’
Is there anyone out there you would like to fight that you see as a next step up?
‘I would like to fight Darryll Williams, he has a title and I want that title. I sparred with him before I turned pro, I went to his gym and we did 4 rounds I believe and that’s when I decided I want to turn pro. If I am an amateur and can do 4 rounds and win them 4 rounds easily I might as well turn pro. So would love to fight Darryll.’
Do you know who you are fighting next?
‘I am next out as you know the 13th of July at York Hall and will be fighting a guy called Anthony Fox. I am looking forward to getting back out.’
When you are not boxing how do you most like to spend your spare time?
‘I don’t do much really just study with my uni work. It takes up a lot of my time. I also enjoy watching boxing as well but at the moment am really enjoying the World Cup.’
If you could share a ring with anyone past or present who would you chose?
‘It has to be Muhammad Ali, just to share a ring with him and be in there with him that would be good enough.’
So just as a last thing what’s an interesting fact about you that not many will know?
‘I am half Italian and half Tunisian. But I still wanted England to win in the group game. I am born and raised in England.’
If you want to witness Zak’s talent in the flesh then get yourself down to the famous York Hall on 13th July. Get in touch with Zak or MTK London for tickets.