LONDON — Zimbabwe-born Dereck Chisora is one of Britain’s most controversial boxers, but he also has a fondness for fine art, Frank Sinatra and miniature dogs, reveals trainer Don Charles.
The darker side of “Del Boy” is documented in a long list of controversial incidents but Charles has tried to supply a calming influence amid the mayhem, and offers his own insight into the fighter he calls his “first child”.
“My goodness, where do I start? Basically the trick I’ve learned from the greats — I’ve taken it out of football and put it in into boxing. Sir Alex Ferguson, I’ve taken extracts of his skills, how to manage these crazy individuals.
Don’t kill that fire in them. Recognise it and nurture it. If you take that out of them, you lose their personality as an athlete. Leave that wildness that’s in there and try and mould it in a way to allow him to perform.
It took me many years of working with him to try and suss his moods. He’s very subdued when he walks into the gym. Sometimes he’s still wearing his robe from home, and slippers, and he’ll turn up and literally drags his feet. You don’t say nothing. He won’t greet you, he won’t even make eye contact.
What indicates the mood he’s in is the music he’s going to play. Some days he will put on Frank Sinatra, some days he will put on hardcore hip hop about killing each other. It’s from one extreme to another, there is no middle with him.”
Describe Chisora’s behaviour in the corner?
Vacant. The appearance of the eyes is vacant. With Dereck, you can’t rile him up. You have to go the opposite and be calm. Just speak softly and quietly. Don’t shout at Dereck, because he won’t take any of it in. Certainly don’t shout at him.
What are Dereck’s interests away from the ring?
He likes the best things in life, Dereck. He’s collects pieces of art and cars. He is a very complex character. That is the only way I can describe him.
His name is “Del Boy” for good reason. He’s a proper, real life “Del Boy”. He deals in cars, art, collects paintings. I have introduced him to jazz music and he’s become a connoisseur. He is a very cultured man and I like the way his life is going.
He loves dogs. You would expect a man like that to have four Pit Bulls on each arm, but he has Chihuahuas. him and his partner, they have a house full of Chihuahuas.
What made him throw a table at Dillian Whyte?
I wasn’t present, unfortunately. If you watched it — it’s not good viewing —you’ll see it’s something that just happened. If I was sitting there, it still would have happened. Even he, I don’t believe, knew he was going to do that. Dillian Whyte hit a nerve at that point. He [Chisora] doesn’t think, he thinks afterwards. Obviously, he feels sorry for doing it.
Can you explain the reason behind your split?
All the big fights we’ve been in, we’ve performed well, but we haven’t won. There has to be a reason for that. It could be me.
I’ve sat Dereck down on numerous occasions. He’s quite a sensitive guy, deep down, behind closed doors. I gave him the opportunity by saying “Don’t be embarrassed to say, Don I’m going to look elsewhere, because I really believe I’m good enough to win a world title.” I even recommended the coaches he should go and speak to.
What sparked the reunion?
It was totally unexpected. I was away from the gym at that particular day. I got a call from one of my colleagues who said: “You won’t believe it, Dereck is here.” After we split, we lost contact, we never spoke, nothing.
We saw each other, it was automatic, we just hugged each other and he said: “Look, I’ve missed you man.” That’s when I realised how much he meant to me, the fighter and him as well.
Did you need to think hard about training him again?
I said to him: “I can sit down and talk with you Dereck, but as far as training you, it’s not going to happen.” His face dropped, because I had made my mind up.
We spoke again, I heard him out. There was a few people I had to ask [about the reunion] and then my family all came round to it. I said I would work with him again, but there is going to be conditions. There were 10 conditions. He took them away, read it, brought it back and was willing to do it.
What do you both still hope to achieve?
When we first started this whole thing, me and Dereck, I sat him down and I said: “Tell me, what do you want out of boxing?” He said “I want to be rich.” I said: “Fine, we all want to be rich. What do you want out of it?” He said: “I want to be a world champion.” I said: “Okay, there you go, that’s the answer I have been looking for.”
In terms of when you have children, Dereck is my first child in boxing, and nothing will give me more pleasure than to see him lift a version of the world title. That is the dream.
*Chisora’s career last week suffered a major setback when he failed to take the European title as German Agit Kabayel retained his belt with a majority points win.