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The Calzaghe boxing dynasty dies

Enzo Calzaghe
Enzo Calzaghe's Welsh stable once house three world champions boxers

By Peter Shuttleworth

The guns have fallen silent in the Welsh Valleys, a one-time heartbeat of British boxing is no more.

The Calzaghe boxing dynasty that once housed three world champions and one of the greatest boxers of this generation - and arguably Britain's finest ever fighter - has come to a natural conclusion.

When undefeated two-weight world champion Joe Calzaghe retired in February 2009, boxing insiders read dad Enzo's world-famous stable its last rites.

Joe and Enzo Calzaghe
When it came to promoting, I find myself like a fish out of water. I had to do the promoting and I ask myself am I capable of doing it? And the answer is no

Boxing coach Enzo Calzaghe

But the Sardinian godfather and award-winning coach has never been someone to give up easily, Calzaghe sr's never-say-die attitude is a reason why his son was such a phenomenon.

Critics often questioned his tactical nous but father knew how to inspire and motivate genius of a son with his unmistakable dialect; he knew which of Joe's psychological buttons to push.

The Calzaghe fight club was more than a family affair, it was a conveyer belt of world conquerors just two years ago as Enzo enjoyed an unbeaten run of 40 fights - including 27 successive world championship triumphs.

But the great Joe has quit, world cruiserweight champ Enzo Maccarinelli was hammered by David Haye and world light-welterweight champ Gavin Rees was humbled, so the man that never stopped fighting lost his inner fight.

And with it, goes the renowned British boxing boiler house he built - the beaten-up old rugby clubhouse that once ruled the fighting world, is now nothing but a relic of Welsh boxing's golden era.

Calzaghe has officially only admitted he is considering hanging up his pads and is taking a break to mull over his future.

But as the 60-year-old has no stable to return to and admits to having trouble getting fights for his fighters, it seems certain he will follow son Joe into retirement.

And Calzaghe - mentally drained after 30 relentless years as a boxing coach, father-figure, nutritionist, psychologist and singer in a band - certainly deserves a little 'me time.'

For a guy with no coaching qualifications except belief and a unrelenting work ethic, he certainly has secured a legacy.

"I've trained fighters for 33 world title fights, winning the first 27," recalled Calzaghe.

I've lost appetite for boxing - Enzo Calzaghe

"And have been in the corner for my son when he fought boxing legends such as Bernard Hopkins and Roy Jones jr in Las Vegas and New York's Madison Square Garden respectively.

"It has been a dream come true, I've had a great innings and to think I only started all those years ago to help Joe."

Calzaghe's stable housed three world champions just over two years ago.

He also mentored Commonwealth champion Bradley Pryce, future world-beater Nathan Cleverly and was in Gary Lockett's corner for his world middleweight shot with top American Kelly Pavlik in Atlantic City.

"I did not realise how many awards I had won until I look at my trophies yesterday," Calzaghe told BBC Sport.

"I've got 14 or 15 awards from boxing hall of fame trophies, the 2007 Ring Magazine coach of the year and the 2008 BBC Sports Personality coach of the Year when Joe took the main award.

"The BBC award was so humbling as I followed great coaches such as Manchester United's Sir Alex Ferguson, Chelsea's 'Special One' Jose Mourinho and England's World Cup winning rugby coach Sir Clive Woodward.

"So I thought I must have been lucky or good. Some say lucky not good because I was blessed with such good fighters. But sometimes I think I must have been bloody good because the awards say so!"

While Calzaghe's coaching prowess has reaped rewards, he is the first to admit his attempt at doubling up as a promoter is a huge reason for his lack of "appetite" that has caused him to question his future.

Joe Calzaghe embraces did Enzo
Joe and I helped keep British boxing alive during a dark time

Boxing coach Enzo Calzaghe

Maccarinelli and Cleverly left the Newbridge gym as Calzaghe and Lockett quit. However, Rees and Pryce remained but each have only fought sparingly since the Calzaghes acrimoniously split with top promoter Frank Warren and set up Calzaghe Promotions.

Rees fought just once since losing his WBA world crown to Andriy Kotelnik in March 2008 before reinforcing his talent to win the Prizefighter crown in December.

So when Pryce and Rees continued to ask difficult questions about future fights, Calzaghe continued to be the bearer of bad news as he was unable to fix the quality opposition that other promoters delivered.

He considers himself a second father to Pryce and Rees - who he has mentored since they were nine - and feared he was standing in their way.

So Calzaghe made the difficult decision for the sake of his "adopted sons" before advising them to join former Team Calzaghe member and boxer-turned-trainer Lockett.

"I thought it would be easy going into promoting," conceded Calzaghe.

"I thought there would be glory at the end of the rainbow but we soon opened up our eyes as it is very hard as without TV coverage you cannot maintain quality fights for fighters of Bradley and Gavin's calibre.

"I don't know why we couldn't attract TV as the fighters are top-drawer domestic fighters. I was surprised as promoters with less value fighters had deals with TV companies.

"Joe and I helped keep British boxing alive during a dark time. So I thought after we gave to the sport, there would be opportunities for us to promote but I was wrong.

"I was at my best when I was with top promoters like Frank Warren and Mickey Duff. It was so easy once upon time.

Coach Enzo Calzaghe with Bradley Pryce, Hari Miles and Gavin Rees
Coach Enzo Calzaghe with Bradley Pryce, Hari Miles and Gavin Rees

"As I was left to the job I do best and they looked after everything else - and they were great at what they do.

"I was at my most comfortable then - as were my fighters. When it came to promoting, I find myself like a fish out of water.

"I had to ask myself am I capable of doing the promoting? And the answer is no. But I don't want to be capable.

"If I put my decision down to one thing, the promoting is the one thing that made my decision because I had no future in it.

"I don't want to go promote as my strength is managing and training fighters, I should have left it at that.

"I was one of the best trainers because I was involved with the best fighters and the best promoters. I didn't achieve anything on my own."

And the superstar son - who boasts an unblemished 46-fight professional record - who he trained, would say the same about his distinguished career.



see also
Coach Calzaghe 'taking a break'
12 Mar 10 |  Boxing
Rees storms to Prizefighter crown
04 Dec 09 |  Boxing
Life with the Calzaghe Clan
28 Sep 09 |  TV and Radio
Calzaghe's second coming
20 Aug 09 |  Boxing
Slimmed down Rees eyes redemption
30 Jul 09 |  Boxing
Maccarinelli leaves Calzaghe camp
08 May 09 |  Boxing
Warren firm court appeal refused
17 Jun 09 |  Wales
Warren company in administration
30 Apr 09 |  Boxing
Calzaghe wins case against Warren
17 Mar 09 |  Wales
Calzaghe postpones second event
29 Apr 09 |  Boxing
Rees joins up Calzaghe Promotions
07 Apr 09 |  Boxing
Undefeated Calzaghe quits boxing
05 Feb 09 |  Boxing
Coach of the Year: Enzo Calzaghe
09 Dec 07 |  Sports Personality
Classy Calzaghe demolishes Jones
09 Nov 08 |  Boxing
Calzaghe rallies to beat Hopkins
20 Apr 08 |  Boxing
Calzaghe wins Sports Personality
10 Dec 07 |  Sport Homepage



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