The Oltai Boxing Interviews: Daniel Morley
By Paul Oltai
Starting out boxing for most when living in a rough area is a way to get by, but it wasn’t until Daniel Morley moved from Mitcham, South London to the more rural Epsom best known for the Epsom Derby horse race that he actually got into the sport.
Never really one for being a tough kid who liked to fight and finding himself more as a shy quiet kid he turned to the sport of boxing as a way to confront his insecurities about confrontation and gain himself a bit of confidence, even then that never nearly happened when he first attended a boxing gym aged 14 with a mate. Walking into the gym and then turning round and walking out to go home as he would say ‘bottling it.’
Eventually plucking up the confidence to walk in and stay in the gym he met a guy called Lee Burrows who took him on the pads and it was there he fell in love with the sport of boxing. He tried football, rugby and cricket as a youngster and just never really took to any but with boxing it just all clicked.
Having 25 amateur fights for the likes of Epsom and Ewell ABC and Smallholdings ABC, Daniel found himself winning most of them and was always one for being in a good competitive fight. It was towards the end of his amateur career that he felt himself falling out of love with the sport though and letting things within his personal life all get on top of him.
After dedicating most of his juvenile life to sport in general he found himself looking to nights out as a release and started to enjoy it a little bit too much although never causing any problems. This led to him finally deciding in an amateur bout against fellow fighter Lewis Richardson where Daniel had not been leading the life he maybe should have and ending up on the wrong end of a beating that maybe the sport was not for him. Which led to a 2 year hiatus from anything boxing related.
It was then towards the end of that period that Daniel met his now trainer and manager Adam Martin, it was this point that Daniel had realised boxing was missing from his life and with a gentle push from his partner who could tell he was missing the sport. He found himself ready to dedicate himself to the sport and this time give the professional side a go and try to make a career for himself.
This has brought us to now where this Saturday the 6th of April he will be participating in his 5th bout as a professional on the British Warriors show at York Hall.
I spoke to Daniel about how he got to where he is now and what he hopes for the future. Take a read below.
So what made you realise boxing was the sport for you?
‘Because of boxing I have had to have loads of different jobs, I have been a postman, a barman, worked in airports and always had jobs. So I have had lots of experience in many fields of work and never really enjoyed it so it was always in the back of my mind, I enjoy boxing and am good at boxing I can try to make a career out of boxing if I just knuckle down. It was just stepping back from it to be honest because I had done it so intensely for six and a half years from 14 to 20 and taking a step back makes you realise that without the sport and without the discipline you just become lazy. My missus picked up on signs as well that I needed boxing and she could tell I wasn’t happy, just getting back into and finding that purpose made me realise that I missed it. I do enjoy the respect you get from doing it in a sort of egotistical sort of way but not big-headed way.’
As a pro what team do you have around you?
‘I have got a good team I have my family and everything who help me a lot. In regards to the boxing side I have got my coach Adam Martin, he has been training as a pro coach for a few years now he has some good fighters come through with him. He is a good lad, he doesn’t take it seriously to the point where it becomes a drag and keeps it fun, like the other day we did 8 x 3s of sparring with 30 seconds rest and then 6 on the bag with 30 seconds rest. It is fun and I enjoy it. We have Kirk Garvey in the gym who is English champ, Jamie Carley who is in a good fight against Danny Darko (Daniel Egbunike) I have sparred both and that is going to be a great fight. Germaine Brown is there as well.
‘We have all different sizes and get good people in, we have Mason Smith who comes down to spar. We have just got a new coach join us called Mick who is a good and has clicked well. I like it down there it is a release from every day life and just go down there and destress. Adam also manages me and at the moment I don’t have a promoter, I am not signed with anyone yet. I have boxed on a couple of Mo Prior (British Warrior) shows and a couple of Mickey Helliet (Hellraiser) shows and they have both been great to me but not signed with anyone.’
Do you see the promoter side of things as they are at the moment with you a positive or negative?
‘Don’t get me wrong the deals you get with promoters where some help you out with ticket sales and that is good but at the moment it is good to have flexibility, because imagine you have a show coming up locally and you know you could do 200 tickets on it or you have a show over in York Hall that people can’t travel to as easily from where I am. It is nice to have that but don’t get me wrong I definitely wouldn’t mind being signed up.’
So what would you say is your boxing ‘style’?
‘I compare myself to but by no comparison on skill level to a Golovkin stylistically, a come forward aggressive fighter who is also quite systematic. I don’t just walk in with my head and like to break people down using my jab and body shots, I am quite aggressive but also educated with it if you know what I mean? With Adam now unlike when I was an amateur when I was more like a Marciano come forward and just try take your head off, Adam has slowed me down a bit now and picking my shots more and have also added boxing on the back foot to my game as well.’
I see in your first four fights you currently have no stoppages, is this something you have been working on with Adam?
‘You know what I have dropped 3 of the 4 opponents I have faced quite heavily and to be honest by the fourth round, my record doesn’t suggest it but I am quite a power puncher but I am a more break you down power puncher. Give me 3 or 4 rounds that is when I start working so we have been hoping to go up to 6 rounds so I have more time to impose my style and start to get the stoppages but you know how it is with tickets and stuff it can be difficult at first when building a following. But to be honest I am just relax with it all and enjoying it and if the stoppages come they come, the journeyman I have fought are really quite honest and each has said they were glad it wasn’t a 6 rounder. I don’t really stress about it but I do get the odd dig off my mates calling me pillows and that but none ever fancy a little spar haha.’
How have you found the pro game compared to the amateurs?
‘I much prefer it, it is more enjoyable for me and like I say I can slow it down. In the amateurs I used to be blowing out my backside after 3 x 2s because it is literally just 6 minutes of pure energy getting in as many punches as you can. Where as now I can do 6 x3s and am alright and feel fine, you can slow it down and pick your shots. It is more quality now over quantity as oppose to the amateurs. I also prefer the training side of it as well and having set dates to fight and know what I have got to aim for, instead of just having it sprung on you that you are fighting next week. I didn’t like the big gloves and head guards of the amateur side of things also.’
Who would you say has inspired you in the boxing world?
‘I don’t know really, it may sound a bit weird but it isn’t just one person it is just big fighters in general. I inspire to be on that level, like Golovkin I will stay up to watch him and then be like yes that is where I want to be. Or because I loosely follow MMA McGregor on the way up really inspired me because I liked his mindset and the way he was and approached training and how he was more psychological with it. So I look at people on them levels and that is who inspire me, obviously I have people around me that give me motivation but that is what I look at and think yes that is what I want to do, not cocky and giving it the lip but that level.’
Outside of boxing what occupies your time?
‘Well at the minute I am a personal trainer and have my own classes set up for boxing and stuff and have quite a few clients I teach how to box. That takes up at least a good 20 hours a week then I also go to schools where I teach kids how to box. Put that together with my own training that probably works out with travel as a full-time job. I support myself through that because boxing doesn’t financially support me yet. I actually enjoy that because I am my own boss and can do what I want with boxing and kind of cross the worlds of working and my love for the sport. Being a boxer I have had a lot of different jobs as well just to support myself but at the minute I am doing alright now.’
So do you feel teaching the kids in schools gives you a sense of enjoyment?
‘It is such a weird age for them where your mind is going through all sorts and lots of kids are very insecure and some are bullied, but doing this boxing with them it is a release for them and I think it is great and not done enough in schools. Kids are raised in a little bubble now where they are allowed to just hide on their phones which is not a good thing and allows people to be horrible behind a screen without consequence. So I think confronting things and challenging your mind is good for yourself and it can help bring you on as a person.’
What is your end goal in boxing?
‘You know what I don’t actually know, I am not like yeah I am going to be p4p number 1 because chances are I am not. But if it ever happens then that would be class, I would love to box in America and win a world title, but I am not setting a goal for anything I just want to enjoy the journey. If I win the British class, if I can box in a full stadium brilliant. Look at Charlie Edwards, I used to train with him down the gym not close to him but he has just headlined the Copperbox as a world champion. So if you dedicate yourself it is do-able.’
Just as a bit of fun what is your first meal you go to when your fight is over?
‘Cookies, I love cookies. Them taste the difference one’s from Sainsbury where you get the 4 big ones in a packet, I love them. I save it until I get home. To be honest I do eat well but I am really good with my weight and am always walking around like 2kg above welterweight and I am 5’ 11’’ so I must have a decent metabolism. I am not hugely strict when I am cutting weight and most the meals I am eating are good and healthy but I will have a little snack here and there. I would be proper miserable if I didn’t, but you do indulge after a fight and just eat what I want for a couple of weeks then get back into for training.’
What would you say is one piece of advice you would give to someone now who was looking to take up boxing?
‘Do it but just do it to what level you feel comfortable. Don’t let anyone pressure you if you don’t want to do it. Enjoy it and if you are going to fight then take it serious and give it your all or you will get hurt because it is a brutal sport, but if you do it can bring you on so much as a person and you will reap the rewards. Respect the sport.’
Do you have any sponsors or people who help you that you would like to shout out?
‘Homes for Heroes UK, that is a charity for homeless veterans and help look after them that my friend has set up. Pilgrim Brewery which is one of my old college teachers who now owns a brewery. New Era Metals and the Dylan Howells foundation which is a local foundation that sponsors up and coming athletes in my area and helps then in the early stages. Dylan’s family set up the foundation and they help about 8 athletes and they are brilliant. They have helped fund me with medicals and the likes which I might not have been able to without their help.’
If you would like to see Daniel fight this weekend at York Hall it is never too late to purchase tickets and help support him in the early stages of his career.