Chinese Olympic Heavyweight Training in Pocono’s with Duva Team!
Interview by Ken Hissner, Doghouse Boxing (Aug 28, 2009) Photo © Tom Casino/Duva Boxing    
Zhang Zhilei, the 2008 silver medalist in the super heavyweight division spent the last three weeks at Fernwood Resort and Hotel in Bushkill, Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains. The Chinese Boxing Federation has a joint agreement with the Duva team of Hall of Famer Lou and his promoter son Dino.

The Duva’s brought in two of the top amateur trainers in the country to help prepare Zhilei for the upcoming World Championships September 1st in Italy. Al Mitchell of Northern Michigan University and 1976 Olympic silver medalist Charles Mooney were busy instructing the 6:07 and 260 pound southpaw Saturday afternoon.

I was astonished with his punching power on mobility while going through several hours of training in his last day at the resort. His sense of humor was second to none as he did a little dancing and his version of the Ali shuffle to the delight of the small group in attendance. He is looking forward to the games and a rematch with Roberto Cammarelle who defeated him for the gold medal last year in China. Asked thru his interpreter, Zhano Feng, how he thinks he’ll do in Italy he said “Gold Medal”. The Chinese nationals will follow in October and he is looking forward to the 2012 Olympics in London.

”He listens well. He’ll practice himself and he wants to learn. We’ve been working on his balance. He is a good athlete,” said Mitchell. “I can’t believe his power now that he has been taught how to put his shoulder into it,” said (Lou) Duva. “We’ve only been working with him for two weeks. Just think how he could look with a month’s training,” he added.

When Zhilei hit the “Teddy Atlas” heavy bag it jumped. He showed more of his sense of humor walking over to a small bag on a microphone type stand by putting the bag into a headlock and giving it a couple of smacks. He is not only boxing southpaw now but orthodox. Mitchell and Mooney were taking turns with him in the ring working with the bag gloves. Mooney recently had heart surgery but looks in great shape. “He has great potential and is an excellent student. Al (Mitchell) put the American style in him. I have never had a heavyweight punch this hard with either hand,” said Mooney. “He’s quick since he is now popping with his shoulder,” he added.

“We’ll be heading to New York tomorrow and look forward to working with the Chinese federation,” said (Dino) Duva. “They hope to have Zhilei win gold in 2012,” he added.
Zhilei won a bronze in the 2007 World Amateur Championships in Chicago. His first appearance in the World games was in 2003. In 2004 he was a silver medalist in the World University Boxing Championships. He turned 26 May 2nd. Even the older Duva got up and showed him a couple of boxing and dancing moves.

Zhilei’s trainer Gu Jinhua and interpreter, Feng, were listening to every word Mitchell and Mooney instructed Zhilei with. The mood was quite enjoyable with the entire group. My good friend Chris Derr accompanied me and is now a boxing fan. Zhilei has the personality and punch to not only please the Americans he comes in contact with but those in London in 2012!

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Ken at: kenhissner@yahoo.com




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