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Meet England’s heavyweight champion Natty Ngwenya

Natty Ngwenya
Andy Chubb/England Boxing
Natty Ngwenya tells John Dennen why fourth time's the charm

It took four finals for you to win the elite championships, how do you feel?

Fourth time is the charm. Persistence is key. If at first you don’t succeed, second and third, try the fourth time.

Did doubts come into your mind. Obviously Cheavon Clarke (who beat Ngwenya previously) is doing really well, but did losing to him and others ever get you down?

It kind of riled me up. Taking nothing away from those boys, a win is a win. But some of them bouts I felt like I should have won. But I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. It probably just wasn’t my time. Take for instance Frazer Clarke, when he was in the super-heavyweight scene he had people like Joe Joyce, Anthony Joshua beating him. The first time he won [the ABAs], he beat me in 2015 when he won it in Liverpool. So I took a little bit of that, a little bit of faith, hard work and dedication. It’s amazing where it will take you.

So before you moved down to 91kgs, you were a super-heavyweight?

I came through as a 16 bouter [to the final], my first elite championships in Liverpool. I fought people like Fayz Abbas who lost to AJ [Anthony Joshua] in the finals in 2011. In the semis I fought Declan Fusco and then in the final I had Frazer Clarke and that was my first loss.

So you’ve had a very hard path through amateur boxing?

Very. It’s challenging. It just goes to show the love for the sport I’ve got. I’ve got love for this game. Without boxing I don’t even know where I’d be.

Talk me through the knockdowns and the knockout against Thomas Pogson in the final?

I haven’t stopped someone in a long time. I think it was just due to timing. Being precise and being patient. Because the first round was a bit close… I caught him with a good left hand and I saw him wobbling a little bit. Then I just saw red and I just went for the kill.

Must have been good to take it out of the judges’ hands?

Most definitely. If that first round had gone to him I wouldn’t have complained either. I had to do what I had to do. I had to adjust and overcome, which I did.

In general what has boxing done for you, how has it changed your life?

We’re quite fortunate that we’ve got a full time training programme [in the Army]. Our set up in Aldershot is similar to GB, in terms of diet and nutrition, strength and conditioning, psychiatrist and all that stuff. We’ve got it all. So there’s no reason why our lot shouldn’t be medalling down here.

It’s inspiring for people… It’s recruiting but not just for the Army but for the sporting world in the Army that people don’t know about.

I’m in the Grenadier Guards. I joined the Army just to get out of trouble. I was a young boy in south east London getting up to no good and it got to a point where I had to turn my life around. I joined the Army in 2009 and I’ve never looked back since then.

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