'He will make it, he will achieve his dream' - Clausager on Lolenga Mock
Luke G. Williams
Danish journalist Tania Clausager recently collaborated with super middleweight Lolenga Mock on a book telling the amazing story of the 46-year-old Congolese-born boxer's life and career. Mock - who faces Avni Yildirim in a world title eliminator on 15 September - is interviewed in the latest issue of Boxing Monthly magazine, and Clausager was also kind enough to grant Boxing Monthly online's Luke G. Williams an interview...
BM: Can you explain some of your own journalistic background and how you became interested in the story of Lolenga Mock and where the idea of writing the book came from?
TC: I have a degree in journalism, and has been working as a journalist/editor since 2000, always working with newspapers or magazines. I started my career as a sports journalist for a newspaper and worked as sports journalist for about seven years. Two years ago I got a job at a newspaper being the reporter for crime, investigation and gangs - for that reason I wanted to start training boxing, to get in shape and get confidence when I had to work under pressure in tense situations.
So I booked Lolenga Mock as a personal trainer. Coming to the gym, I saw Lolenga Mock training himself as well, and with my background in sports journalism I only had to see him training one or two times before I understood that here was an exceptional athlete in front of me. I have met many, many athletes in all genre of sports, world champions etc with dreams, ambitions and plans - but he is one of a kind. So when he was training me, I started asking questions about his career and life, and very quickly I told him: “you should write a book - can I write it?” The first time he said no, that was not a plan for now, but I could see he was thinking to himself he didn't want me to do it! Over time he got to know my way of writing, and suddenly one day he told me: “we should make a book - now!” From there it started...
BM: Can you explain the process of writing the book? I understand you spent lots of time with Lolenga and his colleagues / family.
TC: From day one of the process Lolenga Mock and his coach Ivor de Lima and his team of helpers let me into their world. I followed the training, went to weigh-ins, the fights, they even allowed me in the dressing room getting ready to his fights, for that I am very grateful. It is not often an athlete lets a journalist get this close to them, especially in the hours with a lot of tension before a fight. But they are all were straight forward, they put up the rules for me being around them all the time, and when they saw I respected those rules they let me in on everything, no secrets, nothing to hide. Career-wise it has been the most interesting and special project I have ever done. I came to know that boxing is a family, if they let you into their world, you are part of their family, and they will do anything for you.
BM: Can you explain a bit about how the book is written / structured? And why you wrote and structured it in this way?
TC: I didn't want to make a book about a man's career, going through every fight, every opponent. I wanted to make a book about Lolenga's personal story, and how boxing and his dream to become a world champion saved his life. Losing his family in a brutal way, he had a broken soul for sure - but the way he picked himself up in a new country, not knowing anybody, is the most inspiring story I have ever heard. He went to the gym every day to train three, four, five hours in order to forget his situation, his loss and the grief - and he decided to smile to everybody in the gym, to feed on them smiling back to him and giving him positive energy. Slowly, day by day, he could feel he was rebuilding himself as a human, getting stronger and stronger. As he himself said, “if it was not for boxing, I am not sure I would be alive today.” I wanted to tell that story as an inspiration to everybody, not only athletes but everybody with a dream. The book is not a big book with many pages and we made that decision on purpose, many young kids in boxing don't exactly favour school work and reading, so we wanted it to be a size so that all kids no matter what their background would think: “I can read this..”
BM: What messages and inspiration do you want your readers to take from reading your book?
TC: Always be true to your dream - and don't let any situation or anyone hold you back. Also whatever life brings - it is possible to stay strong, be humble and be a good person.
BM: How has the book been received in Denmark and how is Lolenga perceived in Denmark?
TC: You know what, it is difficult to find the right political way to say this, but I have been a journalist for almost 20 years, I know a good story when I see one ... During the process of the book, Lolenga told me how he has been very much alone in his career, no help from anyone, no sponsors, no promoter wanted to support him 100 per cent, no real media attention, and he kept saying: "it's because I am not 'Danish' even though I am a Danish citizen with a Danish passport.' I thought he was exaggerating - but publishing the book and doing marketing for it, it's like I hit a wall, almost no Danish media reacted to this book, some of them even saying between the lines “he is not Danish”. And I have to say, I am a little choked about my country in this way, the media and the politicians are always looking for the 'successful story about integration' - and here is an African refugee, who came to Denmark, and got no help from anyone - but he worked and worked and worked to follow his dream in boxing and made it successfully even now at the age of 46 … How can that not be an inspiration to all newspapers, magazines or television channels? For that I am puzzled …
BM: What do you think the future holds for Lolenga Mock?
TC: I think he will make it, he will achieve his dream. but not only that I think that he will get his story out there, to other countries more open to people from different countries, more open to the inspiration in this exact story - and I do think he will inspire a lot of people in the future to achieve their own dream.
BM: Can you describe and explain for me what Lolenga is like as a man and an individual - personality etc - and what your working relationship with him was like?
TC: My working relationship with him and his team was, like I said before, you become part of a family, and if i had a problem or so, they would do anything to help me. As a person; Mock is a unique man, he is a mixture of African culture, European citizen and a Danish family man. The best way I can describe him is an old soul in the body of a 25-year-old man. He has seen a lot of shit, so life has made him wise, clever and experienced - but he has managed to be the most positive, helpful, humble and happy person I have ever met.