‘Marvin Hagler and Sugar Ray Leonard showed what true fighting is’

Kanat Islam
Olympic medallist and KO king Kanat Islam talks about his heroes, ambitions and love for Kazakhstan

When and why you started boxing:
I’ve been in the ring since I was eight. My goal is to prove that Kazakhstan is a strong nation in professional boxing.

Favourite all-time fighter:
Muhammad Ali, because he was not only a great boxer but also a real man.

Best fight you’ve seen:
Marvin Hagler-Sugar Ray Leonard. They showed what true fighting is.

Personal career highlight:
Winning bronze medals at the 2008 Olympic Games and 2007 World championships as an amateur. I’m currently highly ranked by the WBA, IBF and WBO, but I won’t feel like I’ve achieved anything in the pros until I become world champion.

Toughest opponent:
Emilio Julio Julio in 2013 [w ko 3]. It was at high altitude in Ecuador, so I found it difficult breathing.

Best and worst attributes as a boxer:
I knock a lot of opponents out due to the severity of my blows. Now I’m working on improving my technical skills and defence.

Training tip:
The three components of success are proper nutrition, exercise and rest.

Favourite meal/restaurant:
I like eating horse meat, as all Kazakh people do. I’ll go to any restaurant that serves Kazakh dishes.

Best friends in boxing:
Former Olympic champions Bakhtiyar Artayev and Serik Sapiyev, plus Roy Jones Jnr and Beibut Shumenov.

Other sportsman you would like to be:
I used to dream of being a football player when I was a young, but now I don’t need any other sport except boxing.

Last film/TV show you saw:
Kazakh Khandygy. It’s a very interesting movie about the history of Kazakhstan.

Who would play you in a film of your life:
Sylvester Stallone, because he’s an actor who knows about boxing.

Have you ever been starstruck:
I’ve never dreamed of being an actor, singer or dancer, so I don’t get starstruck by celebrities like that. Mike Tyson and Muhammad Ali are the real stars for me.

Last time you cried:
It makes me cry when the young children of Kazakhstan have their pride diminished. The pain of my nation is my pain.

Best advice received:
When I first went to the boxing gym, my trainer said to me, ‘I don’t need a champion. I just need a man.’ I still remember his advice, and always try to be a good man.

Worst rumour about yourself:
I don’t pay attention to gossip.

Something not many people know about you:
I’m good at skiing and skating.

Age: 32
Twitter: n/a
Nickname: ‘QazaQ’
Height: 5ft 10ins
Nationality: Kazakh
From: Pahokee, FL
Stance: Orthodox
Record: 23-0 (19)
Division: Super-welterweight
Titles: WBO Inter-Continental, WBA Fedelatin & WBA Fedecaribe
Next fight: Islam faces Norberto Gonzalez over 12 rounds on Friday May 26 in Boca Raton, Florida.

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