David ‘The Hayemaker’ Haye, a former WBC, WBA and WBO world cruiserweight champion, as well as a former heavyweight titlist is one of the most sort after sporting stars in England. Now, he is venturing into the Indian market with a joint venture with Bollywood hunk John Abraham.
Despite being brought up in England he has a fancy for many things Indian. He spoke to MiD DAY about various issues ranging from boxing, cricket, food etc. Excerpts from an interview:
You are one of the biggest sports stars in England. How would you sum up your journey?
It’s been a rollercoaster. I have had my highs and lows. But overall it’s been very positive. I have really enjoyed the competition part of it. I have enjoyed training. I have enjoyed the entertainment side of it also. I have grown up seeing my childhood heroes like Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger engage in boxing. It’s been a fun journey and the party is still on.
How does it feel coming to India? What have you heard about the country and how did the association with John Abraham come about?
England has a large Indian diaspora, and I met John through a common friend, Alberto. Many of my friends have come to Mumbai and they go to Goa for vacations. People always asked me to it check out. John is like an action hero and a rage in India. Me being a boxer, I am expected to be this huge guy with muscles. He came to London to my gym and we had a boxing session together. Two minds are better than one. Make it huge. Do something very, very special.
You are planning to get into moviemaking with John in the future. Can you share some details about it?
Next year a movie on boxing! Right now there is nothing much that I know of. Maybe I will act in it. I’m not too sure. (John Abraham confirmed Haye will be acting in it).
You have had stormy relationships with boxers like the Klitschko brothers and Dereck Chisora. Have you reconciled with them after the controversies?
I have met Chisora after the brawl in the press conference. That was all crazy stuff. In the ring things went very well. We have settled all our differences and we have headed in our own directions. We are not the favourite people in the world but we have no hostility between us. And in the ring there are rules and regulations. He has another fight coming up and there is no hostility with any boxer. It’s a business. So there is no hostility.
What plans do you have for your son, Cassius? Will he become a boxer like you?
I really don’t know what he wants to do that. I would never like to push him what he wants to do. My parents let me do what I wanted to and even I am similar to them. So I will let him grow up to what he wants to become.
Do you follow cricket? What did you make of India’s victory over England in the Champions Trophy?
I do not follow cricket that much. Champions Trophy, it was obviously hard to swallow and was heartbreak for me. But you got to give it to India for winning the title. But you got to swallow it and move on. Andrew Flintoff is my favourite cricketer. I knew him even before as I had seen him come on TV shows and stuff.
What is your opinion on Flintoff taking to boxing?
I thought he was crazy when I heard that he is planning to be a professional boxer. I always thought that he is a cricketer and he is very soft and boxing is not for him. Until I saw his bout and he won. It was amazing. He boxed amazingly. But I believe it was a tough move which he pulled off very well. He proved that cricketers could be tough as well.
Indian boxers have begun doing well at the Olympics. What does it take to move into the professional circuit, and would you encourage such moves?
Professional boxing is a lot tougher than amateur boxing. There are smaller gloves that we wear and there is no headgear. There are three rounds of 12 minutes each. While in amateur its just three rounds of three minutes each. And as it is, from next Olympics there will be no headguard. So personally for me I prefer to box without a headguard. The guard actually is worn so that when two heads clash during a bout there is no injury on the forehead to the boxers in the ring. But other part of the face is still open to take punches.
What made you come out of retirement?
I wanted to regain the 2014 title and I am sure I am going to get it.
Is the fight with Tyson Fury off or on?
I am working for the fight. But he is making all the wrong noises in the media about the fight. Hopefully we would fight. It’s a fight that the British media is eagerly awaiting for it. But lets see and I hope that it happens.
What do you want to do in India?
I have heard so much about India. The Taj Mahal, crowd of Mumbai and beaches of Goa. But as I have very less time. I am planning to come back and visit all the places. I have grown up eating Indian food in England, as it is a rage there. I have eaten English Indian food but now I want to eat Indian Indian food! I love chicken tikka , Madras curry, curries of India, vindaloo.