Ringnews24.com talks with Ruben Groenewald. See what he has to say about his explosive book ‘Broken Dreams: The Untold Truth’, his life away from the ring and the many challenges he has had to face as a young man living in London, a city in a country far away from his native homeland in South Africa!
First of all Ruben, can you tell us a little bit about how and what inspired you to get into boxing?
My dad basically forced me to become a boxer when i was only 8 years old. He comes from a long family line of boxers. Some of my dad’s cousins were Vicky and Willie Toweel. Vicky was SA’s first undisputed world champion. I trained with Willie Toweel’s house when I was 14. Willie challenged for the world title.
Can you tell us a little about the writing process of your book ‘Broken Dreams: The Untold Truth?’
It took me 3 years on and off to write the book. I had asked many different people who were writers to help me write it but no one was interested so I did it myself with no help from anyone.
Did you face any challenges during its development?
Towards the end of writing the book I wanted to quit and walk away from it but my family and friends motivated me to continue because they knew how much it meant to me.
How long was the development process of ‘Broken Dreams?’
It took me 3 years to write the book ‘Broken Dreams: The Untold Truth.’
What is the one regret you have about your career, and why?
I don’t have any regrets about my career. I lived my career full out but I am upset about certain things and certain people who i worked with. I’m upset that Frank and Eugene Maloney lied to me and stole approximately 60 000 British pounds from me. I’m upset that after I beat Anthony Farnell, Maloney told me i have to fight Farnell again and if I don’t, they would strip me of the title. I look back now and the Maloney’s lied to me to steal my money. I was never going to beat Anthony Farnell again in his hometown unless I knocked him out. What is worse, a South African judge gave the fight to Farnell by about 3 or 4 points when I clearly won the rematch.
After the second Farnell fight my boxing career was basically over at the age of 24. Frank Maloney was my manager on paper but Eugene manged me and always took a manager’s percentage after my fights. Then after the second Farnell fight Eugene said he can’t manage me anymore. I asked him to release me of my contract so that I can continue with my career but Eugene said I needed to find a new manager and he would sell my contract to my new manager for 10 000 British pounds. I phoned Frank Maloney and told him I wanted my contract back and he started shouting at me and said “I’m not your fucking manager Ruben!” Then he put the phone down on me.
I wrote numerous letter’s to the British Boxing Board of Control’s Simon Block who was the CEO at the time and told him about it but Block refused to take action against the Maloney brothers. In one of his letters he wrote to me and said I needed to phone him. So I phoned him and he told me that Frank and Eugene Maloney are not such bad people and that I should go back to them, as they can organise me a lot of big fights because they are connected. He said I should phone them that day and still go to work with them again. Wow, I could not believe what i just heard. Anyway, so I was not able to box and I ended up living out of my car. So, my career basically was cut short at the age of 24.
I decided to write a book called ‘Broken Dreams: The Untold Truth.’ I have more than one reason for writing this book. First of all, it’s inspiring. It’s very interesting. From how I was forced into boxing, to how I boxed against black kids in the black townships during the Apartheid years when myself, my parents and the trainer were the only white people in the hall with about 1000 black supporters singing and dancing.
The atmosphere was electrifying in that hall and even though there was a lot of trouble between blacks and whites, to be in that hall was for us a very safe place to be in. The black people love boxing and they respect a good boxer. My dad died 3 years ago but he could talk the Zulu language fluently. The book i wrote also tells of what eventually led to to me moving to England to pursue my boxing dreams. How I slept on the floor for 3 months in a house in Beckton, London and how I ended up with Frank and Eugene Maloney handling my career.
How have fans responded to your book so far?
Fans have responded very well so far. I’ve sold 184 books so far. It’s not a lot but I’m a first time writer.
Have you had any response from those you made accusations against?
Last year Frank Warren’s lawyer Stephen Heath Taylor lodged a complaint to Amazon to have my book removed from the website. Taylor is in the book for his crimes and it’s not looking good for him. He made some wrong choices back in 2003 and it will catch up to him. Amazon notified me about the complaint. They gave me Taylor’s e-mail address and told me to contact him or else they will have to remove the book. So I contacted Stephen Heath (can’t remember if it’s Steven or Stephen). I asked Heath what the problem was and why has he complained to Amazon about my book? I told him he should have been honest with me in his letter to me back in 2003 but he was not honest and so he does not have a leg to stand on.
I told him to file a lawsuit if he feels so strongly about what I wrote in my book but Heath never replied to my e-mail and my book is still available on Amazon.
In your book you claimed that former rival Anthony Farnell helped you out when you were going through some of the worst moments in your life. Do you still keep in touch with one another?
Yes, Farnell helped me a lot. I was living in my car when he contacted me to help him with sparring for his fight. He gave me petrol money, plus he booked me into a hotel for a week and he gave me his credit card to use but i did not use his card out of respect for him. After a week’s sparring Anthony gave me money which helped me tremendously. I will always respect Anthony Farnell and his family and friends. He is a good man.
Carl Froch once allegedly stated: ” I don’t think he liked me, because in sparring I nearly dislocated his head off his shoulders a few times, but he didn’t stretch me.”
What do you say to this, and what is your overall impression of his career?
I first sparred Froch in 2001 when he was training for the world amateur championships. He arrived at the gym where I trained with his team mate David Haye who trained with me in the same gym but under a different trainer. I honestly took it easy on Froch because i did not want him to get injured before the tournament started. The next time I sparred Froch was in 2003 when I was then training on my own without a trainer. It was after I fell out with the Maloney brothers and my coach Alan Smith. I heard that in the rematch with Farnell my purse was 60, 000 pounds but Eugene gave me 11,500 pounds. I heard he shared the rest of the money with his brother Frank and trainer Alan Smith. So I was almost in the gutters the following year.
I sparred Froch and he had obviously improved since his amateur days. He certainly did not almost dislocate my head off my shoulders in sparring. He was in a good place mentally and physically and I was not. In fact i started getting ill. My asthma got worse due to the stress I was under from not being able to box and knowing that my managers and trainer stole a hell of a lot of money from me. My money was running out too.
What do you think about boxing today? Do you think it is still as strong as it once was?
Boxing is still very strong today. It will probably continue to be strong but the corruption in boxing will never be wiped out.
Do you follow boxing?
I don’t follow boxing as much these days. I will only watch it now and then.
When you look back at all that has gone on, what are your feelings on it all at this point?
I’m hoping justice will be served. For too long people like Frank Warren, Frank Maloney, Eugene Maloney, Simon Block, Robert Smith and more have been avoiding my book because they know it will harm their careers. Micky Cantwell and Barry McGuigan are also in the book. Whilst they were working for the GMB union i joined their organisation. I met Cantwell one day and showed him all my paper work between myself and Simon Block and Frank Warren’s lawyer. Micky’s words were “fucking hell Ruben you’ve been robbed badly”. He said he will help me. 4 weeks later I still had not heard from Cantwell. I phoned him and he said that he spoke to Barry McGuigan and Barry reckons he will hand all my paperwork in to the GMB’s legal department so they can look at it. About 2 weeks later Cantwell phoned me and said “sorry Ruben i’ve got bad news for you, our lawyers at the GMB union have looked at all your papers and they reckon they can’t help you because you do not have a strong case.”
2 years later I was back living in South Africa and i phoned the GMB and gave them my membership number/ID. I asked them if either Mickly Cantwell or Barry McGuigan have ever handed in legal documents to the GMB’s legal department or if they have ever opened a case involving myself and the obvious people and the lady said no never. She said that McGuigan and Cantwell don’t work there anymore. So there you go. Their job was to help boxers and do the honest thing but instead they lied to me. I think they did not want to go up against their fellow boxing people like Frank Warren. the BBBC, The Maloneys and more.
What are you doing these days?
Today I am a fully qualified personal trainer. I run a big health and wellness center. I’ve worked my way up. I’m a fully qualified international personal trainer. I studied for my diploma in Exercise Science. It took me 2 years to complete. Last year I had 3 MMA fights, winning 2 and losing one. I still train every day. I feel good, but I want to expose these people for the crimes they have committed and I want my money that I’m owed. 60 000 pounds is a lot of money. I’m sitting with forged contracts that I received from Micky Cantwell when i asked him to get my fight contracts. He said he got them fro Frank Warren’s office. I told Cantwell that the contracts are all forged and I did not sign them but Micky Cantwell said that I would have to prove it. So Micky’s attitude also changed.
These people in British boxing who stole from me are all what is wrong with boxing today. I have absolutely no respect for any of them. Fuck them all. If they do not like what I’m saying then please sue me. Eugene Maloney went as far as to threaten me with death via a phone call back in 2003 but I just laughed at him. He’s a fucking joke and so is his f***** brother!
Do you have a message for your fans?
I’ve still got all the letters and forged contracts if anyone wants to see them. I believe what goes around comes around!