And a Prince Challenged the King
INTERVIEW By Jason Petock (April 30, 2006)
Good fortune has once again shone its ever bountiful blessings upon me and granted me yet another exceptional opportunity recently. Thanks to my friendship with boxer Danny McDermott and the flexibility and kindness of Light Heavyweight Prince Badi Ajamu (25 2 1 / 14 KOs) to accept an interview on such short notice, I was able to interview Prince this week upon hearing the breaking news that he has a proposed fight coming up with Roy Jones Jr. which is projected to be on July 29 of this year.
Prince Badi Ajamu
Prince is currently in training with legendary trainer Buddy McGirt in Vero Beach, Florida and always stays in top form and follows a strict regime that keeps him in peak condition whether he is fighting or not. What is truly amazing about this boxer is that at the age of 34, when most people write fighters off as too old, Prince is dispelling that myth and then some. The Camden, New Jersey fighter who made his bones in Philadelphia’s boxing world is honest, interesting and a real pleasure to speak with and he offered me another glimpse into the world of a professional fighter with his great personality and directness during our interview. Candid and to the point, I could almost feel the focus and determination surging through the phone lines during our talk and once you read the interview you will know why. Prince Badi Ajamu is the genuine article fans, and if you haven’t already heard of him then you’re lucky to be the first here, because this boxer is a future star and will make as many waves as he will headlines. I feel honored to have spoken with him and would like to thank him once more here, as well as Danny for facilitating the contact with Prince. So this is the tale of a prince would challenge a king in the realm of boxing. A young lion vying for the position of an older one who has a lot to prove now. This is what Prince Badi Ajamu had to say to me and I feel priviledged to be able to share it with you. Enjoy.
JP: How did you first get started in boxing?
PBA: I started boxing at about 12 years old. Street brawls and that kind of stuff. There was a barbershop, you know, where I was having my fisticuffs at. And the barber came outside, the owner of the barbershop. And he said, “Why don’t you come into the gym?” You know the gym was right across the street from my barbershop. And he said, “Hey I want to talk to you.” I went back and he talked to me. At that time you couldn’t have juveniles in there but I started going to the store and working, you know, for the people in there. I would go in there and you know I was watching and then they started training me and everything. You know they broke the fights up I used to have on the streets and after that I started training. I got hurt on a motorcycle and I took off for awhile. I came back and I turned pro pretty late. You know what I mean? I’ve only been pro for 5 years.
JP: Wow, how old are you?
PBA: I’m 34. You know when I first came back my uncle was telling me, “You’re not going to be able to do anything.” I walked away and I told him okay. But in my mind I was like, “You know I’m going to prove him wrong”.
JP: So you had that hunger then?
PBA: Yes, definitely. It’s willpower man. Willpower. I’ve always believed in that. I really believe in that man. You know I trained in the sport and I was fighting on the amateur circuit with the top guys in the country. And I did well you know what I mean? I was ranked nationally about 2 or three times. Which allows you to make the USA Team and on that team you can go out of the country and fight on duels and stuff like that. So I did that for 2 years, I fought in the amateurs for 2 years, I only had like 35 amateur fights.
JP: You did a lot of on the job training then?
PBA: Yeah I did. I did man. But you know I fought amateur before I got hurt. See I always hung around in the gym and my forte was that I stay in shape.
JP: That’s a plus man.
PBA: If you stay in great shape man, you always got an athlete’s chance. When I turned pro I turned pro in 2001 and in 2006 you’re talking about fighting Roy Jones, you know? And we’re fighting for a World Championship Title. It’s a title that he represented for so long and I think he wants to make a stab at it again. He’s going after that title which I believe is the NBA Title. I respect the title because if you check the history of the title, you know Ali, Ray Robinson; some great fighters had that title. It’s been around for a long time and boxing has a long history that stems from Europe, you know? And now you know this way it’s going back to Europe. You got Roy who wants to fight me who wants to use me as the start of him to go over to Europe and make it. And I’m looking to do the same thing. You got a man who has done it all before, which means he went to the mountaintop. There’s not many times in boxing when you get the chance to go to the mountaintop twice.
JP: When is the fight projected for you and Roy again?
PBA: The projected date is July 29.
JP: Do they have a site picked out for your fight yet?
PBA: There’s been interest all over about it. I mean they’ve put it out there, Roy Jones and his people. I hope Roy isn’t taking me lightly though. I don’t want to say it, but if he and his people have done their homework they realize that he isn’t taking me lightly.
JP: It really goes back to because you’re hungry, right? I mean that’s a huge shot there. How would you describe your style?
PBA: What I bring to the ring is hunger and adaptability. That’s what I bring. Hunger and adaptability. People who watch me fight see that I bring a lot of ring generalship. They see me ending where I walk out, you know what I’m saying, with my hands held high I try to just walk through a guy you know?
JP: Without giving it away, is there anything that you have seen in Roy Jones that you can exploit or take advantage of?
PBA: You know what? Honest? What I see in his style that I will be able to take advantage of is that I will just go out and fight my fight. You know people that fight Roy they fight Roy out of a shell. What I simply mean is that when they fight other people they gamble. Because when they fight Roy Jones they don’t gamble. That’s what I see. But I think I just need to fight my fight. Obviously I’m going to respect him. Because he’s still a dangerous fighter, a very dangerous fighter. But I’m obviously going to respect him like I said, but at the end of the day I’ll be into my fight and not worrying so much about what Roy’s going to be doing to me.
JP: What you’re saying is you’ll be more focused on your game plan then?
PBA: Yeah, that’s the big thing, you know? Guys that have fought Roy were more concerned about what Roy was doing. I don’t want to fight that kind of fight. The thing is don’t fight Roy like you’re watching the fight. Fight Roy like I’m in the fight, which actually I will be.
JP: Hey, so where are you from originally man?
PBA: I’m originally from Camden, New Jersey and I’m a Philadelphia fighter. I tell everybody I’m from Camden, New Jersey but I’m a Philadelphia fighter.
JP: You ever fight at the Blue Horizon?
PBA: I fought at the Blue Horizon; I made my pro debut there.
JP: So you have a history there and you made your bones in Philly then?
PBA: Yeah, I made my bones in Philly, that’s what I did.
JP: Do you have any favorite fighters?
PBA: My three favorite fighters are Floyd Mayweather, Shane Mosley and Roy Jones. Obviously you know with Roy Jones I’m fortunate to be fighting him. But you know what? This is the nature of the business. I see myself in Terry Norris’ shoes when he fought Sugar Ray Leonard. He grew up watching Sugar Ray.
JP: And then you end up facing him, you’re fighting your idol.
PBA: Yeah I’m facing him.
JP: Do you have anything to tell anyone out there that they might not know about you or what to look for or what to expect?
PBA: Yeah, I mean they can expect the Prince to come in and be just who he is a boxing prince. They can expect to see Prince in a lot of big fights. I know my fight with Roy is going to tell a lot about a story that I’d rather not tell. I’d rather that my Mom could tell it.
JP: Have a lot of your wins been by knockout and what’s your money punch?
PBA: You know what? My money punch, I guess, you know to be perfectly candid with you there’s no set money punch. The money punch is the punch that I can get in and land on you. Because there is no set way that I can finish a guy. My record shows that I’m pretty balanced.
JP: You’re pretty even?
PBA: Yeah, I’m pretty balanced. I feel like me and Luis Collazo are in the same position. You know Collazo is fighting Hatton and I’m fighting Roy. Me and Luis Collazo come out of the Eastern Trials you know, the 2000 Eastern Trials together. And you know this is what it is for us. We’re hard nosed guys who came up the hard way.
JP: You earned it man. You got your shot now. Is there anything you want to tell Roy if he’s listening out there or if there’s a chance he read this?
PBA: Absolutely man. The main thing I would tell Roy is first of all that I’m honored that he gave the opportunity to fight the great Roy Jones Jr. I’m honored. He loves to fight. I’ve watched Roy for many years and the main thing that I want to tell him is I feel I got a lot of respect from him when he choose a good fighter like me to fight him. I mean he could have picked a lot softer person. He could have picked a softer fighter.
JP: He could have gotten a tune up fight if he wanted.
PBA: Yeah he could have got a tune up; you know what I’m saying? But he picked me. And the fact that he picked me gave me that much more respect for him. He’s the first fighter in my whole career that’s picked me to fight him. The rest of the fighters that I’ve fought, they fought me because they had to fight me. He don’t have to fight me. He’s fighting me by choice.
JP: So he basically contacted you then and said I want to do this?
PBA: Yeah, and you know I don’t feel slighted or disrespected in the least. Number one I feel honored and number two I feel privileged. I feel honored and privileged to be fighting Roy.
JP: That’s really big man.
PBA: Like I said, I mean I could have easily been a mandatory, you know, because of the nature of the business. I’m ranked number five with the WBC right now. I mean, c’mon. And here I got a chance to fight Roy and like I said he didn’t have to take it. He could have picked anybody else.
JP: But it’s clear that he wants a challenge, right?
PBA: Man, he wants a challenge. And I’m known a little bit in England, you know what I mean? I’ve worked with some guys from England. I’ve worked with Clinton Woods before; you know what I’m saying? Yeah, he picked a good guy to fight.
JP: That’s huge man.
PBA: I definitely believe it’s huge.
JP: So you’re ready for him?
PBA: Absolutely. You got to be ready for Roy, you know? He’s a dangerous fighter man.
JP: Yeah, you got to bring your “A” game with him man.
PBA: You have to bring your “A +” game. If you don’t bring your “A+” game you’ll just be in the fight watching. And you don’t want to be like that.
JP: You train with Buddy right?
PBA: Yeah I train with Buddy McGirt.
JP: How long have you been training with him for?
PBA: I’ve been down here with Buddy McGirt for about 6 months now.
JP: How’s that working out man?
JP: Has he brought out anything in you that you haven’t seen in yourself before?
PBA: Yeah, he’s told me some things and they’re really, really, technical things man. Those things make a big difference in big fights. Buddy has been gifted to be able to walk a guy straight through to a Championship. Buddy knows what it takes; he’s been there multiple times. He’s been there in the ring and out of the ring. With that being said, you know, I am in very good hands. This couldn’t happen in a better way.
JP: Going back to your beginnings, what was your childhood like?
PBA: My childhood man, I don’t even mention it a lot. I kind of like to leave it typical. You know, typical in the sense of life in the hood, you know in the urban community. This is a breath of fresh air for me. I mean the chance to fight a man who doesn’t have a weapon on the other side of the ring besides his two fists is a very, very fair opportunity for me. You know where I grew up at, and the way I grew up, you don’t get no kind of opportunities.
JP: Well you’re an inspiration man and it shows a lot of people out there that you can do it.
PBA: Yes it does. Absolutely. You just have to want to do it.
JP: Thanks again Prince for granting me this interview man, I appreciate it. We’ll all be looking for you on July 29.
PBA: Alright man.
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