Into the lion's den
Introducing Bermondsey welterweight and former GB amateur star Chris ‘2Slick’ Kongo, who tells Boxing Monthly about stops, starts and boxing in the lion’s den ahead of his professional debut tomorrow (30 July).
Name: Chris Kongo
Age: 23 (23 December, 1992)
Hometown: Bermondsey, London
Height: 6ft 1in
Trainer: Ted Bami
Gym: Miguels Boxing Gym, Brixton
Management: Whole 9 Management
Amateur highlights: GB Squad member
Tickets: 07514352266 / 07946518283
Brixton is undeniably rich in culture. The hip but tough portion of South London oozes authenticity and vibrant character that runs through to its boxing fraternity, with the likes of heavyweights Dillian Whyte and Danny Williams, having charmed crowds with their roughness and charisma in equal measure. Tomorrow, another Brixton-trained fighter looking to carry on its tradition of shining ring personas: Chris ‘2Slick’ Kongo.
A former GB squad member, welterweight Kongo takes on Newark tryer Fonz Alexander (3-37, 1 KO) at York Hall, Bethnal Green, and the 23-year-old can’t wait to step in the ring.
“In terms of fighting, the heart and the will and determination that will always be a part of me,” the laid back Londoner told Boxing Monthly. “I have the experience of fighting top fighters, but the pro game is much different to the amateur game. I have been concentrating on leaving the amateur style behind me and building for the pro game.”
Kongo decided to turn professional after seeing his hopes of competing at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games this summer dissipate. But the switch to the paid ranks wasn’t as simple as first hoped. Red tape and monetary struggles sidelined Kongo for an entire year.
“There were some issues. It was mainly just the British Boxing Board of Control’s process and, in terms of the medical, we were trying to get funding for it. John Wish from Matchroom helped me get through that.
“I’ve been continuing the hard graft throughout the whole year I was out. In terms of a training camp [for the fight] there has been no camp. I’ve been training for over year for my debut now and the time has finally come.”
Kongo was trained for that year by local Brixton legend and former European light-welterweight champion Ted Bami at Miguel’s Boxing Gym in the railway arches, in the heart of the district, something he deems invaluable to his development.
“Training’s going well, I’m pretty happy. [Bami] definitely knows some tricks. He has all the experience as a pro I need to develop in the game. I'm learning so much everyday. In terms of amateur experience I think I’m going to benefit from being in the ring for 90 amateur fights and fighting those top level fighters, smart fighters.
“You’ve got much more time in the pros. They go up to 4, 6, 8, 10 and then 12 rounds. You don't want to be rushing in. In the amateurs it’s three-threes and you wanna score as many points as you can, but if you’re a pro you don’t want to gas out in the fight because next time you might be going up to 6 rounds, then 8 rounds. In the amateurs you have to stay in for nine minutes but in the pros you have to take your time, figure it out and you need to get your shots off.”
Substantial experience garnered from fighting the best the amateur game had to offer won’t be the only thing that Kongo will carry over to the professional ranks. The fighter’s ring name ‘2Slick’ - in homage to his boxing ‘slick’ boxing style - was coined affectionately by his friends, who would travel to watch him box as an amateur and has since stuck.
“The nickname came from my friends who used to come and watch me fight. There was one time I boxed against the army in around 2009. I just had one friend that came to watch me. I won and boxed really well, and when I came out of the ring the whole crowd wanted pictures with me and were telling me how well I’d done - even people I didn’t know! They were saying I had a really slick style and even one of the crowd actually said I should be called ‘2Slick’. So that’s how the name came about.”
So what aspirations does Kongo have to fight in the big arenas? His name in lights in Las Vegas, headlining in Atlantic City, selling out Wembley?
“I would 100 percent love to fight at The Den,” says Millwall fanatic Kongo. His reasoning is refreshingly noble and endearingly rooted in a love for his native Bermondsey and all it has to offer. “The reason I support Millwall is to support my local team. There’s no point in going off somewhere else and supporting some other team. I’m always supporting the Millwall. Hopefully Matchroom can sort it out one day in the future”
The Den is no stranger to hosting big fights. It was the venue for Michael Bentt’s loss to Herbie Hide for the WBO heavyweight championship in 1994. Given Kongo’s staunch footballing allegiance, could we see a lion accompanying the ‘2Slick’ moniker on his shorts? Perhaps a ring entrance to Millwall anthem ‘No one likes us, we don’t care’?
“There’s no space on the shorts because of the amount of sponsors I have on there already! Hopefully for my upcoming fights I can slip a lion on there.”
Given his stellar amateur pedigree and sterling professional attitude, Kongo could be going a lot farther than the short journey down the road to The Den.
Tickets for Kongo’s fight on Saturday, July 30 at York Hall can be bought by ringing 07514352266 or 07946518283