“Anybody, Anywhere”: Imre Szello, the fighter’s fighter

Hungary’s Imre Szello is one of the World Series of Boxing’s (WSB) top Heavyweights (91kg). As a Beijing 2008 Olympic Games quarter-finalist and European Championships bronze medallist, Szello has been loyally representing the Dolce & Gabbana Italia Thunder team for three seasons since his move from the Memphis Force in 2011. With the Italian team currently lying in second position in the Group A table, the Season II winners look increasingly likely to take on either the Azerbaijan Baku Fires or the Russian Boxing team in the Playoffs.

Szello meanwhile, at 30 years old, moved up to the Heavyweight (91 kg) category last year following a disappointing qualification process for the London 2012 Olympics at Light Heavyweight. The move seems to have suited him so far. He recently stood in for two-time AIBA World Champion Clemente Russo in the Thunder’s Week 8 match against Team Germany where he faced EUBC European Championships bronze medallist Johann Witt. The win was important for the Italians to squeak a narrow away win.

How do you think the season is going for the Italia Thunder? 
I think we have got a strong team this season but the work of the coaches and the management has been really excellent. Our minimum target in the fourth season is to get to the semi-final.

What are the strengths and weaknesses of your team?
One of our strengths is that the whole franchise, including the management, are focusing on just one match at a time. Boxers need to be able to concentrate exclusively on the next bout while other issues like equipment, training, supplies, catering, travel etc. are taken care of elsewhere.  We have got professional management and coaches to deal with these things. In terms of weaknesses, I think we are a really professional franchise and we do not have any obvious weaknesses to be honest.

What do you think about Dolce & Gabbana Italia Thunder’s chances for next season? Are you planning to continue to fight for the Italian franchise next year?
We are still in the fourth season, so it’s too early to say anything about that and we haven’t discussed my contract. I have started my third season in the Dolce & Gabbana Italia Thunder and I am fully satisfied with the team. I hope they also think the same about me.

What is your opinion about the qualification system for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games?
I am very happy that we will have the chance to qualify for the Olympic Games via the WSB before the AIBA Open Boxing events.

What are you working on technically/tactically at the moment?
Whilst technical and tactical training sessions are important in my schedule, one of my main priorities is also to continually improve my physical conditioning and to maintain a high level of fitness throughout the whole season.

What are the factors that make the difference between an elite boxer and others?
One of the most important elements is the coaching background and the level of the training partners between an elite boxer and the others.

How important is psychology in boxing?
The mental state of an athlete is sometimes the difference between our performances. If a boxer not in peak condition psychologically he won’t be able to keep his concentration in an unpredictable environment. If everything is perfect in my personal life I can perform even better and I feel the difference in my motivation levels.

You are now a very experienced fighter in the WSB. How is this benefit your performances?
I have been fighting in the World Series of Boxing from the first season. Tactics are more important in the WSB than they are in AIBA Open Boxing (AOB) bouts. We have to adapt to the rhythm of the bout and use our energy in the most efficient way because the fifth round is really hard physically, especially in your first WSB contests.

I know your daughter is a great motivating factor for you when you are in the ring. What does she mean to you?
My daughter is the most important thing in my life and I try to see her as much as possible. Unfortunately we have to live in different places for now but that just means that the time we can spend together is very precious. As she grows up and understands more I can tell her where I am travelling and what I am achieving in the sport. I hope she will look up to me in the future and she will recognise my achievements in this hard world.

How did it feel to fight as a replacement for Clemente Russo in your last outing?
It is not important that I had to be substitute for the two-time AIBA World Champion Clemente Russo. We are members of the same team and if they need my boxing knowledge I am willing to fight anybody anywhere.

Congratulations on your victory over Germany’s Johann Witt, the 2011 European bronze medallist. What was your opinion about the fight?
I was prepared for a really tight battle and did not expect to have such an easy victory against him. I was confident from the first second until the final bell and my victory was a triumph for my team as well.

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