Home Boxing News In Depth with John Dignum

In Depth with John Dignum

Bowers Gifford middleweight prospect John Dignum features on the glittering debut of BoxAcademy on Thursday 3rd May at The Troxy, London, live and exclusive on BoxNation (Sky Ch. 456/Virgin Ch. 546).

Dignum, last year’s ABA Champion, already has one win under his belt – a points win over Ryan Clark – and takes on the experienced Lee Noble over four rounds.

Boxing writer Glynn Evans talks to Dignum about his background and aspirations in the professional ranks.

Name: John Dignum

Weight: Middleweight

Born: Near Romford

Age: 20, just turned…..on St Patrick’s Day

Family background: I’ve a twin brother, Danny, who’s in the (senior English) ABA semis next week at the same weight I won ‘em last year (75KG). I’m elder by eight minutes! We’ve also got one older sister and one younger sister.

Today, I live with my girlfriend Charlotte in Bowers Gifford, over Basildon way in Essex. We’re expecting our first child on May 9th.

Trade: I work with my dad and uncles doing groundwork and tarmacing. Dad says it helps to keep me strong.

Nickname: Haven’t got one yet. ‘Big Dig’? That might work!

What age did you become interested in boxing and why? I started around nine. Me and me twin were always rucking each other so Dad took us up the Newham gym where his mate Tony used to go. I get on a bit better with Danny now. Whenever we spar, we just laugh. He’s southpaw too. We’re the next Klitschkos!

What do you recall of your amateur career? I had my first bout, aged 11. Tommy Baker beat me in my second.

At the Newham, I was coached by Tommy Giles and Jimmy Lavey and I won two schools and two Junior Four Nations titles there. Danny and me made history as the first set of twins to win national schoolboy titles on the same night, me at 40 kilos, Dan at 42. That was probably my amateur highlight.

I briefly went to West Ham ABC for half a season which was a good gym but I just couldn’t settle so I went back to Newham. Then, when I started work, it became too far to travel to the Newham so I joined the Brentwood ABC for my final three years. There, coached by Joe Taylor and Allan Bush, I won the Junior ABAs in 2010 and the Senior ABAs in 2011.

I had to box seven times to win the seniors and won ‘em all on points. I beat Frank Buglioni in the semis then James Seddon of Liverpool in the final. Buglioni was a good, tough fight. He was a lot older and far more experienced, on the GB squad in Sheffield.  Beforehand, everybody had me beat but that just drove me on more. Going in I was pretty confident. I had to dig deep and I pulled it off.I can see people building up a rivalry between Buglioni  and me in the pros.

All told, I had 49 amateur bouts and I lost just nine. I boxed five times for England at schools and junior level and won all five. In the amateurs, with England and clubs, I went to Wales, Ireland and Denmark but seemed to get overlooked with the Team GB set-up. Even after winning the ABAS, they never showed much interest which was disappointing as I’d have got to travel all around the world.

Why did you decide to turn pro when you did? Winning the ABAs was the best thing you can do in the amateurs and, with the 2016 Olympics so far away, turning pro was the right decision.

Tell us about your back up team: I’m managed by Richard Clark who also looks after (unbeaten Southern Area cruiserweight king) Tony Conquest and I’ve done a promotional deal with Frank Warren. I knew he had the BoxNation thing coming up and it would provide good exposure.

I’m coached by (former Southern Area, British and WBU light-welter champion) Jason Rowland who I’ve known since I was a little boy and who worked with me through the ABAs. He’s been there and done it himself and we have a good laugh. He does his job very well. We use a few gyms but mainly the Origin Gym in Rainham.

What’s your training schedule? Which parts do you most and least enjoy? When I’ve a (fight) date, I’ll train five evenings a week and I’ll also run on the weekends. I’m up at 6.45 and, after a full days graft, I’ll get to the gym about 4.30 then train for two hours.

I’ll begin with a stretch out, do four shadow and two or three nights I’ll spar about six rounds.  If I’m not sparring, I’ll do about six on the pads plus a few body bag with Jason. After a few on the (punch) bags, I’ll do a circuit, a bit of skipping then finish with a couple more shadow to warm down. I might do a few weights at home. I only really started on that for the ABAs.

Straight after the gym I’ll do my running; either five miles or some sprints. It’s not until eight o’clock that I’m able to relax for the night.

I most enjoy sparring – practising new shots or moves you’ve been taught on the pads – but don’t like to do too much of it. I least enjoy burpee jumps in the circuit. I’m just a bit lazy!

Describe your style? What are your best qualities? I’m basically a left handed southpaw counterpuncher. I’m more a boxer than a fighter. I never had too many stoppages in the amateurs. I’ve a sharp jab and I’m a thinker. I try not too get hit too much. I ain’t got a flat nose yet.

I got stopped after two standing counts by George Mahoney of the Repton  when I was about 15 or 16 but I came back to beat him the following year and I’ve never been dropped.

What specifically do you need to work on to fully optimise your potential as a fighter? I’ve still got to learn the pro game against different fighters and styles. That’ll come with time. I’m still to develop my ‘man strength’ but I’m getting by with what I’ve got. I boxed plenty who were older and stronger in the amateurs and beat most of ‘em.

What have you found to be the biggest difference between the pro and amateur codes? The pros is more settled. You don’t have to waste as much. In the amateurs you’re always chasing points whereas in the pros you just have to win rounds. I’ve always been fairly settled on my feet anyway so hopefully the pros will suit me.

Who is the best opponent that you’ve shared a ring with? Billy Joe Saunders in sparring. He’s mustard! He’s a very sharp boxer plus has that bit of aggression.

All time favourite fighter: Sugar Ray Leonard. He was really classy. Today, I like Lucien Bute and Andre Ward.

All time favourite fight: Sugar Ray Leonard v Marvin Hagler.

Which current match would you most like to see made? Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao. Mayweather wins a lot easier than people think. He’ll be far too clever.

What is your routine on fight day? I’ll get up around half seven, eight, and have cereal and toast for breakfast. Later, I’ll have a bit of pasta and chicken. I have to be doing something. I don’t like to sit thinking about the fight all day so I’ll go round my parents or my mates and relax, perhaps watch a bit of tele.  At the arena, I don’t like to hang around too long. I just like to get me kit on, have a quick warm upon the pads, then get on with it. I’m more confident than nervous.

Entrance music: I want to have ‘Good Feeling’ by Slow Rider but, last time, I forgot to bring the CD!

What are your ambitions as a boxer? I’m still young so there’s no rush. My ambition at the minute is just to get more experience. After about eight fights, I’d like to be working up to a Southern Area fight. I’d love to be British champion and move up from there. Above all, I want to be Number One!

How do you relax? I go the pictures or out for something to eat with Charlotte and I enjoy a bit of carp fishing. Occasionally, I’ll have a kick about with my mates over the park.

Football team: I say West Ham but I don’t take too much interest. It’s just a local and family thing.

Read: The only think I ever really read is Boxing News.

Music: A bit of R’n’ B

Films/TV: I love the Rocky films. Rocky IV with Ivan Drago is my favourite. I also really liked Shawshank Redemption. On the tele. I love BoxNation, especially Buncey’s Boxing Hour. I’ve always got BoxNation on and my girlfriend gets the hump!

Aspiration in life: Just for people to say he was a nice guy; an all round good person.

Motto: Winners never quit. Quitters never win!

The debut of BoxAcademy will be broadcast live on BoxNation, the UK’s home of televised boxing, available on Sky channel 456 and Virgin channel 546.

Tickets for BoxAcademy on 3rd May at The Troxy are priced at £35 and £50 and are available from the Queensberry Promotions Box Office on 01992 550 888 or www.frankwarren.tv

About BoxAcademy
Queensberry Promotions presents the first instalment of a new concept show that  will be televised Live and Exclusive on the UK’s new home of televised boxing, BoxNation.

BoxAcademy will be a monthly live show that is solely dedicated to showcasing the most exciting, young, up and coming domestic talent in tougher, more action packed fights,  designed to develop the young fighters at a faster rate to Championship level.

On one Thursday every month, BoxNation will switch the focus from its huge array of World, British and European title contests, and give the floor to  a host of former Olympians, amateur champions and unbeaten prospects, as the UK’s elite young talent is given the chance to be the main focus of the show in BoxAcademy.

BoxAcademy will visit the various regional hot-beds for young boxing talent around the country, visiting a different city each month.

BoxNation’s televised coverage of BoxAcademy events will be supplemented with an array of behind the scenes interviews, training footage and background stories, giving viewers the chance to get to properly know tomorrow’s champions.

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