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Konrad  Stempkowski Interview: Plan B, Let's Have A Scrap!


The domestic super welterweight scene is bristling with talent at the moment, with names such as Liam Smith, Liam Williams, Ted Cheeseman, Joe Pigford and of course Hellraiser’s own inimitable Asinia “D’Ghost” Byfield right at the top. But even within the Hellraiser Boxing stable there are quality super welters trying to wriggle their way through the crowd to the summit. One of those is 5-0 (0) Konrad Stempkowski, who, like Byfield and super featherweight Gelasius Taaru, hails from Reading.

Hellraiser’s Adam Thorn caught up with Konrad ahead of his sixth outing on the October 14th Maelstrom show at York Hall, to talk about his camp, career and background. Finding Stempkowski in the middle of work at his job in IT Sales, Konrad explained, “unfortunately just boxing doesn’t pay the bills yet.” Contrary to popular belief, most professional boxers, especially small hall fighters, have a main job and then box on the side. What was surprising was that he’d been in the job over seven years, given Konrad’s youthful appearance.

AT: How old are you then?

KS: Erm, quite old really, I’m 34, I’ve got the baby face going on!

AT: I know the feeling! How’s camp been going?

KS: Camp’s going really well, I’m always ticking over, I never stop training completely, but when fight camp starts I kind of go a bit mad and do as much training as I can. I’m 34 but I keep reaching new levels of fitness, new levels of skill and constantly improving. I’m going to keep doing that until my body stops letting me do it.

AT: And which gym are you at?

KS: I train out of the Reading Boxing club, the amateur club. Most of the Reading boxers actually started or were training at the Reading ABC. I split my time between there and being with Craig Piner in Bracknell.

AT: How many times a day do you train?

KS: At least two times, I try and do a session in the morning and a session at night and if I’ve got any energy left I might go for a run on my lunchbreak.

AT: Have you got a family as well?

KS: Yeah I live with my wife and my two young boys.

AT: Wow that’s a lot to balance!

KS: Yeah it’s quite busy, and obviously when a fight is drawing in then a lot of my time is spent in the gym. My wife always says she’s a boxing widow!

AT: Haha! What sort of sparring have you had?

KS: Obviously in my camp I regularly spar with D’Ghost, Asinia. Who is one of the best fighters I’ve been in with. I’ve also sparred Tamuka Muchapondwa, Gary Corcoran, Tony Milch. I’ve never sparred Hollywood Josh but he’s a great guy and I’d love to spar him. I never turn down any sparring, I have to leave my kit at home because if I get offered some I just say yes!

AT: Do your kids come to watch you fight?

KS: They haven’t yet but the older one wants to come, and I will take him when he’s maybe a bit more relaxed. Or maybe for a title fight.

AT: Talking of titles, the Southern Area has just been vacated, by Asinia, and even just Hellraiser alone have four or five guys, yourself included, who could be in line to fight for it. Is that something you’re working towards?

KS: Well firstly best of luck to Tony who’s fighting for it next weekend. We’ll see how it pans out, If I can get in there and challenge for it then that would be a great achievement for me.

AT: It would be great to see, I was at your last two fights against Lukasz Kuc and Kevin McCauley and they were both very exciting. The McCauley fight in particular, you suffered your first knockdown, and you pulled through it and took a clear victory.

KS: Do you know he just caught me off guard with that, I think I was a bit too cocky, a bit too comfortable, especially after the first round where it went really well. He caught me with a good overhand right on the button and my legs just went. I fought through it, and this is why we do all that fitness, to be be able to get through that. I know that for fans watching, I’m ticking certain boxes that maybe some boxers don’t tick until a lot later. I can get up off the ground, I’ve got a good engine, I’ve got good fitness, my second fight was up north and it was a tear up so I can have a tear up. In my next fight I’m eager to show a bit of boxing skills, that it’s not all about fitness and having a scrap.

AT: Do you know who you’re fighting yet?

KS: Mickey hasn’t confirmed just yet, but there’s a couple of names floating about, obviously there’s a couple of guys at my weight fighting that night so they’ve got to work out who’s facing who.

AT: I’ve seen Kevin McCauley fight several times, and he’s a very good, experienced opponent, but I’ve never seen him so up for it as he was against you!

KS: I think that’s good though, I think that’s really good, because I’d rather fight someone who wants to fight me back than someone who’s very passive. You can’t make a fight if the other guy doesn’t want to fight you back.

AT: Will you be down this weekend to support Asinia?

KS: Yeah I’ll be there, Asinia has had three or four tough fights in a row now. Once he gets up there, no one can say that he’s been given anything. He’s had tough fights, and tougher and tougher opponents every time, the guy has overcome all kinds of difficulties and challenges. It’s great to see that he’s going from strength to strength and he’s a good guy inside and outside the ring.

AT: Have you got any inspirations or role models?

KS: Everyone’s their own person, but I do watch all the top fighters in and around my weight, and I try and learn from them, maybe emulate some moves, but really I just want to be my own person. When I first started boxing seven years ago, I just wanted to learn how to box. But as time went on I kept reaching new levels and so we’ll see what’s possible. I was always aware that I’m a late starter, so I’ve got my head down and worked as hard as I can. I love watching boxing, analysing it. I had to cancel BoxNation in the end because the wife was saying that I spend my whole life in the gym then I come home and watch boxing!

AT: Finally, this is your first six rounder, how are you approaching it, any differently?

KS: My main thing is to show more boxing skills, be a bit trickier, a bit cleverer, don’t just rush in and have a scrap. Take my time, hit and don’t get hit. If the other guy comes for a fight and I can’t outbox him, look there’s always plan b, let’s have a scrap! But the main thing is I want to show I’m learning more boxing skills.

Konrad fights on October 14th at York Hall, tickets are available from 07941 431 874.

Posted: 4th Oct 2017

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