An Interview With Unbeaten Bantamweight Sam Cox

An Interview With Unbeaten Bantamweight Sam Cox

By Cameron Temple

“It’s cost me £2000 to get myself through camp and I’m not going to earn anything.”

The stage was set for the first outing of 2020 for the 25-year-old professional boxer from Islington, Sam Cox. The O2 arena in front of a packed-out crowd and hoping to improve his record to six wins and no losses. But, as is often the case at the moment, then came coronavirus.

“It’s cost me £2000 to get myself through the camp,” Sam explained, “and I’m not going to earn anything now. You’re not insured in boxing and you don’t get paid for not fighting.”

Such is the struggle for many up and coming fighters in the sport at the moment, with shows all over the country being cancelled or postponed.

“It’s frustrating,” Sam admitted, “because it’s probably set me back at least a year. Boxing at the O2 was a massive platform for me and it would’ve really boosted my career and helped me on the way to a title fight next. Now I need to have another warm up fight before I can fight for a title.”

Also, given that it would have been Sam’s second appearance at the O2, he hoped that he had rid himself of the nerves from his debut outing, and this time he could really put on a show, saying:

“When I first fought at the O2, it was a whole new experience, you get butterflies and it takes time to get used to. This time, I thought this is now my opportunity to go and put on my best performance, I’m used to the venue and I wouldn’t have to get the nerves out of the way, I would’ve felt more at home.”

To add to Sam’s frustration, this situation was almost avoided, as he revealed:

“I was meant to fight on the 7th of March at York Hall, which actually took place. It was perfect, because I had my sister’s wedding on the 14th, so then I could enjoy my sister’s wedding and not have to be on a diet. We got the phone call for the Matchroom show on the 28th, and it was a massive opportunity. So, I spoke to my sister and she said I was crazy to be worrying about eating and enjoying myself at her wedding and that this was too big an opportunity for me to pass up so I took it. I didn’t eat or drink at her wedding last weekend and now it’s all for nothing.”

The lack of opportunities in boxing has forced Sam to return to his day job:

“I work for a company called Powerday. The good thing is we actually have a foundation here, that’s managed by my dad, Bill Cox. We fund a lot of boxing and we just sponsored the GB Olympic team all the way to Tokyo. My side of the business is going into schools and I coach boxing free of charge and I help out with Mencap groups, which is for disabled adults. I also work with Grenfell united where I do a lot of coaching sessions. So, for me work is great but at the moment it’s all stopped because I can’t go into schools so I’m just in the office trying to make myself busy.”

Sam’s involvement in boxing was almost inevitable given the boxing pedigree in his family, as he told Islington Now:

“I had a big boxing family on both sides. On my mum’s side I have some great boxers who have represented England. On my dad’s side, my grandad was a chairman at the ABA (Amateur Boxing Association) and my dad was on the panel of AIBA (Amateur International Boxing Association). My dad had three boys and I’m the only one to box and I’m the youngest, so I guess he had a lucky break with me!”

In the amateurs Sam reached the national finals and won various London titles and in 2017 he turned over to the professional ranks and he has made the transition well, saying:

“Over the last 18 months I’ve really become a true professional, I’m sitting down on my shots and I’m putting my combinations together. I came from the amateurs with quite a picky style, I would throw one pop shot and then move and not get hit. Now I’m starting to really sit in the pocket and let my hands go.”

Sam is currently managed by Goodwin boxing:

“I think Goodwin’s got my best interests at heart,” Sam acknowledged, “he’s pushing me onto Matchroom shows and hopefully he’ll get me signed by a bigger promotion sooner rather than later.”

Also a part of Sam’s team is his trainer and best friend, Sam Bezzina, who he has boxed with since the age of 12:

“I think training with a friend works well for me because there’s no one who knows me like he does. He knows how to push my buttons and how to get the best out of me. Also, what I like is we work with a lot of experienced coaches, being around different gyms and sparring with different people and we pick up little things ourselves from them and we bounce off each other. A lot of the old guys, they’re so one track minded and they think this is how it should be, whereas we’re quite fresh and young and we’ve got a different stance on things, because sometimes certain things will work for me that might not work for someone else.”

As well as Bezzina, Sam clearly values the support of his sister Candice, saying:

“She helped raise me with my mum. My mum was ill when I was quite young, so she left school and raised me and my brother and then my mum got better, but still my sister was a big influence. Then my mum got really sick and passed away from cancer last year, but even since then Candice makes sure I’m doing what I need to be doing and she keeps me on the right path. She’s basically my mum, my dad and my best friend all rolled into one.”

The tragic passing of his mother could’ve been enough to take a toll on the career of many boxers, but Sam uses it to spur him on:

“It’s given me an extra drive and an extra gear.” Sam said, “I promised her that I’d give a hundred percent effort and I’d give my all in whatever I do. So, that promise weighs heavily on my shoulders every time I step into the gym, because I don’t want to let her down. So, even if I don’t make it, as long as I know I gave it my all, I’ll have no regrets.”

Sam believes his determination and drive is his best attribute to serve his boxing career, saying:

“The fights always won in the gym and what you do in the gym you take into the ring. I’m always early to training and the last one to leave, really giving it everything so I think my drive probably separates me from others.”

However, sometimes Sam’s obsession with hard work can be somewhat of a burden as he revealed:

“I’d say I struggle most with rest days, because it gives me anxiety that I’m not training. Obviously, the dieting side of it is hard as well, sometimes being down at a thousand calories a day can be difficult. I can get a bit irritable with people around me.”

Sam’s ambitions for 2020 go as far as a Southern area or English title, but in terms of his aspirations for his life, they go much further:

“At my weight there’s not loads of money available in boxing, so I’m not going to be a millionaire.” Sam conceded, “My success would be to buy my family a home, live a good life, wealthy to some extent and to come out of it with all my faculties intact. Hopefully I’ll end up in the media somewhere, maybe doing some punditry. I want to stay in the sport, doing some coaching, just to earn a living after my boxing through my boxing and make that the only income I need. Even now, I’m a professional boxer, but I’m still having to work a nine to five because boxing doesn’t pay my bills.”

Sam cited Vasyl Lomachenko as his favourite boxer to watch, as well as Tyson Fury for what he’s achieved since his comeback, but in terms of his own style, Sam said:

“I couldn’t directly compare my style to anyone else, I can box and move, but when I need to I can slug it out too. I’m just myself really.” Hopefully we see his unique style back in the ring soon, or as Sam himself put it, “whenever this virus f…s off.”

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