Andrew Moy and Edge Brown from Vincit Magazine caught up with Olympic Gold Medalist Boxer Andre "S.O.G." Ward before his upcoming bout against Allen Green in Stage 2 of Showtime's Super Six World Boxing Classic tournament. Check out the interview below:
Andre "S.O.G." Ward
Athens, Greece 2004. It is the summer Olympics games. Athletes from all over the world were competing against one another trying to be the top athlete in their sport. And in the light heavyweight division in the sport of boxing, Andrew "S.O.G" Ward shined at the top and brought home the Gold Medal. Now, a professional and 21 bouts later with all 21 coming in victories (13 of them by way of KO), Ward adds the WBA Super Middleweight Championship Belt to his collection with a very exciting victory over the skillful Mikkel Kessler of Denmark. As he's getting ready to jump into camp to prepare for stage 2 of the Super Six World Boxing Classic tournament aired on Showtime, I had a chance to sit down and interview the champ about his accomplishments and his future in boxing. As a writer who is also a huge fan, you can understand my excitement and nervousness on meeting the champion boxer. As my trainer, Edge Brown assists me with the interview, we meet someone who is more than just a fighter. We met a person who is very passionate about the sport of boxing, a man of faith, and someone who uses his success in a positive way to help other. Here's how it went:
When you won the Olympic Gold, you put yourself in a different class with the likes of Muhammad Ali, "Sugar" Ray Leanord, and Oscar De La Hoya. People are expecting you to carry the sport like those 3 greats. How do you feel about that?
Winning the Gold Medal is an unbelievable feat and it puts me in the history books for lie. There is a great tradition that Olympic Gold medalists go on and become world champions. And I have accomplished that. I want to make an impact on the sport of boxing. My goal is be one of the greatest fighters to lace a pair of gloves.
Now as a professional, you're a very focused, well grounded, and spiritual guy. But you and your team were under a lot of pressure and criticism early in your career about the the opponents you were facing, then you came through with your win over Kessler and now people are saying you're on the right track. How did you and your team handle the pressure and criticisms?
There's always pressure. There's pressure when you're on top. There's pressure when you're trying to get to the top. But the particular type of pressure that I take with the criticism, I use it as motivation. I believe you have to let it affect you at a certain degree and not in a negative way, but in a positive influence as motivation to prove the critics wrong. Nothing personal against anybody, but I want to show the world I am going to be a world champion, and a great one. The great Bernard Hopkins said and I'm paraphrasing "You need critics. You don't want them. It doesn't feel good to have them, but you need people to doubt you to keep that fire burning" You need a reason to fight, and that is my reason.
The Super 6 World Boxing Classic tournament is pitting the top 6 super middleweight fighters in the world to compete against one another to be crowned as the best super middleweight fighter. How does it feel to be chosen as one of the fighters to compete in this tournament?
Being in the Super 6 is a great feeling. There are a lot of other good super middleweights that could've been in there, so being that they picked me is just a great feeling. I was honored, and I wanted to step up to the plate and say ok these guys on Showtime feel like I'm worthy to be in this tournament, so I'm going to prove that I'm worthy. It's just an honorable feeling and I'm thankful! There's also Fight Camp 360 where it follows the fighters behind the scene, and it's just a great concept and I'm very appreciative.
Speaking of Fight Camp 360, I watched the latest episode of it. And right before you walked into the ring with your fight against Mikel Kessler, you received a phone call from Floyd Mayweather Jr. giving you positive words as you're getting to walk to the ring. What was that like?
Oh man that was unbelievable. Floyd Mayweather Jr., Roy Jones Jr., and Bernard Hopkins I must say are my three favorite fighters. But to get a phone call from Floyd Mayweather who in my opinion is the best fighter in the world, right before the biggest moment of your life in your career is just unbelievable and the words that he gave me were so encouraging. It tells me that this guy believes in me, and I know I can do this.
Going into the Kessler fight for the Super 6 tournament, you were looked at as the underdog. People said you were facing a more experienced fighter (Andre jumps in "and he was"). Critics were not sure you were ready to face Kessler and win. But you did. And you did it well. How do you feel now as far as fighting after the Super 6 tournament?
It's hard to look past the Super 6 tournament, especially with so many big fights within the tournament. I just went to take them down one by one. I want to focus on the goal right in front of you. I feel if you guys look too far ahead, they get sidetracked. I am locked in on my next opponent Allen Green and I just want to win. I work really hard. Even though I just beat a guy like Kessler, I still have a lot of work. My goal is to be the best and to top each performance every time out.
In the Super 6 tournament, many said you were a big underdog, then you beat Kessler, and now people are saying you're the favorite to win the tournament. How do you feel about that?
It's interesting because some people still don't see me as the favorite. Someone mentioned that they weren't convinced after my victory over Kessler. They said they will be convinced when I beat a "real" fighter like Arthur Abraham. Again, the crticis will not stop. So I'm looking at that like Ok, I still have some work to do.
With the growing popularity of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), do you feel the sport of boxing has been affected. And how do you feel about Mixed Martial Arts?
MMA is a tough tough sport. I've trained with guys like Nick Diaz, Nate Diaz, and Jake Shields. Jake's a great and humble guy. I'm a fan of the sport. It's an artful sport. It's a tough brutal sport. These guys have to learn 2 or 3 different things in order to be successful. There's the ground game like Jiu Jitsu and stand up. I'm a fan of it and I respect it. I don't look at it like Boxing vs. MMA. I think there's place for boxing and there's a place for MMA, and I respect the both of them highly.
Many fighters have tough rugged crazy nicknames. Bernard Hopkins is "The Executioner". But yours is S.O.G. Could you tell me about your nickname?
S.O.G. is Son of God. A lot of people come up to me and say "so you're the son of God? You're the savior?" Absolutely not. But I go by a scripture Galatians 3:26 which says "through the faith of Jesus Christ, you are all sons of God" and to me that means if you're willing to release your faith in Jesus Christ you too can become a son of God. I am a Christian and I think the name fits. I think it's something that's natural and I really like it! I really like the name. I think a lot of people do like it. Some don't. But a lot of people do.
Outside of boxing, you help out with a lot of positive influential organizations. For example you teamed up with knockoutdogfighting.org which reaches out to prevent dog fighting. Could you tell me a little about that?
The knockoutdogfighting.org organization was started by a person named Chris who is very passionate about dogs, especially pit bulls because they get mistreated a lot. She says these dogs are very passionate and very loyal dogs. They're here for more than just dog fighting. And as I got connected with knockoutdogfighting.org, I did some research and realized that dog fighting isn't just the issue. It's been proven when there's dog abuse within a home, there's child abuse, spousal abuse, and even elderly abuse. And guys end up committing worse crimes. There's one reason why I teamed up with her, because I am able to get into juvenile halls and I'm able to connect with people about that subject as well as many other things. I want to use my platform to reach as many people in as many areas as I can in non profit organizations.
You have so much going on in your life inside and outside of the ring. If you never got into boxing and laced up a pair of gloves, what do you see yourself doing?
Wow...that's a good question. Well my desire after boxing, and I believe I am able to do that even now is preach the gospel. I was able to go to Dublin High School and speak to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and it was such a powerful moment. I feel like the word of God and the power of God can affect people's lives. I love sharing the good news with people. But if not that, I would see myself in business because I love crunching numbers. I love talking about business, and just seeing how business works. I would love to see myself in a suit everyday and going to do some good business somewhere (chuckles).
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