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Qais Ashfaq: ‘You have to fight tooth and nail for every inch. Nobody else will do it for you’

Qais Ashfaq
Qais Ashfaq, a man who believes, speaks to Paul Wheeler

When and why you started boxing:
I was eight, nearly nine, when I started. My cousin used to box and his dad, my uncle, saw that I had an interest in the sport, so he promised that he’d take me to the gym when I was the right age. I never looked back.

Favourite all-time fighter:
Muhammad Ali, for obvious reasons. I’ve also always been a fan of Pernell Whitaker, Roy Jones Jnr and Sugar Ray Leonard. They all had that flashy style with good footwork and a mix of power and lightning speed.

Best fight you’ve seen:
Live, because of the atmosphere, I’d say Anthony Joshua vs Wladimir Klitschko.

Personal career highlight:
Becoming a Rio 2016 Olympian.

Toughest opponent:
As a pro, it’d be Joe Ham in my last fight [w td 7 – November 2019]. I had to get the tactics right because he’s a dangerous puncher if you let him stand with you. I know that because we boxed each other three or four times in the amateurs.

Best and worst attributes as a boxer:
I’m a bit of an all-rounder, with fast feet, fast hands and good power. Since turning pro I’ve been working on my mid to short-range work and planting my feet more to get greater purchase on my shots.

Training tip:
Work hard and commit yourself 100 per cent. It’s a lonely place in the ring when you’ve cut corners!

Favourite meal/restaurant:
My mum’s cooking is the best, especially after a long camp dieting!

Best friends in boxing:
Frazer Clarke, Joe Cordina, Joshua Buatsi and my newest teammate, Charles Frankham.

Other sportsperson you would like to be:
I’ve always admired Muhammad Ali. I’m a big fan of Michael Jordan too.

Last film/TV show you saw:
Money Heist on Netflix.

Who would play you in a film of your life:
Tom Cruise with a beard! 

Have you ever been starstruck:
Seeing Floyd Mayweather.

Last time you cried:
I cried tears of happiness when my son was born.

Best advice received:
Believe! In yourself, in your creator and in the process. You have to fight tooth and nail for every inch because nobody else will do it for you.

Worst rumour about yourself:
I can’t say that I’ve heard one.

Something not many people know about you:
I can’t really swim!

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