Wind and rain lash against the steamed up windows of a gym tucked away in the depths of North West London. James Brown blasts out of the speakers as 27 year old Daley Ojuederie aka ‘Dstar’ hits the floor and finishes off his gruelling twice a day workout with several hundred sit-ups. In barely three weeks, on 20 May, he’ll be fighting at the gritty home of British boxing: Bethnal Green’s York Hall.
It’s his comeback fight having been a promising amateur beset by injuries and setbacks that kept him out of the game longer than he should have been. This will be his fourth professional fight after a career representing England against the USA in 2000 and two London and national championships in 2004. A broken rib took him out in 2010 and now he’s hit the ground running with relentless dedication, an undeniable punishing training regime, and new management to bring him back on top of his game. There’s a real buzz in the air and tickets are selling out, fast.
I catch up with Daley at the boxers favourite, MyGym in Finchley Central, to talk about life; past, present and future. He’s in a focused and quietly confident mood; looking lean and relaxed.
The hard work of the last few years has come together. He’s in the best shape of his life having adopted a new training and dietary regime and eager to get back in the ring at Bethnal Green. I asked him how his weight management is going, “No pressure. We’re right on schedule, we have no issues with the weight, I’m eating healthily, training healthily; everything is good.”
Changing his perspective, he said, helped him get back and prepare for professional fighting. “A few years ago I was naive, I wasn’t listening to the people around me, I was exhausted from not eating properly, using saunas, you can’t just starve yourself to get the weight off. I do everything right now; I train right, I’m in the gym every morning for three hours solid, then rest and run early evenings. I eat right and let the weight come off naturally”.
Video by: D.Osborne
His new found focus has brought him into the stable of well-known trainer Don Charles who has turned around careers like Dereck Chisora. Charles is more than happy with how things are going. He says it was tough getting into Don’s group of fighters as his focus was with Dereck and few other fighters but after much persuasion Don told him to come down and train and if he found him special, he would take him in.
The boy from Watford says that before he entered a gym he knew how to box. Fighting was always going to be in him; he grew up in a boxing family. He chose boxing to channel the anger and frustration he felt as a youth, having grown up in foster homes from the age of two with his brother. At 14, he was reunited with his other brothers, one being a former Southern Area Light Heavyweight Champion. He encouraged him and the inspiration he needed followed, “Starting to box calmed me down a little bit,” he says laughing, “I’m a calm person anyway but it helped me to put it all into a positive environment. I could just let it all out when I stared going to the gym and I started to get good at it.”
I wanted to know if Daley was the type of fighter who was on the attack from the off, or if he didn’t mind taking a punch. Bringing up Floyd Mayweather, “You got it right the first time. Floyd Mayweather, Roy Jones, I like to counter punch. The name of the game for me is to hit and not get hit. I don’t like to take punches; I’m not in the sport to take punches, I punish people and they got to try and punish me, if they can.”
Even though he was reluctant to talk about it, Daley admitted that the controversy around the post-fight press conference brawl, between Haye and Chisora this year, tarnished the reputation of boxing. The reasons for it were obvious he said, “David Hay wasn’t meant to be at that press conference, it was Chisora’s show, his fight. He just put on a good performance and he shouldn’t have been interrupting a press conference like that.”
There have often been suggestions that the fight game is rigged throughout the years. Is it all about the promoters’ and fight matchmakers ability to make sure the favourite doesn’t face too tough an opposition? “When you got a prospect like myself at the beginning of my career, it’s about building my experience as a professional until I’m ready to take the step up to the next level and fight someone undefeated or for a championship. They’re not going to put a dead body in there, there’s going to be somebody who’s going to give me a test. If I’m not on my game I can lose and if I lose, the bigger promoters who are interested now won’t be interested no more, so it’s my job to make sure I look good and I beat that guy.”
I brought up Michel Watson and Gerald McClellan to find out what’s changed since the days of those fighters and was he scared? “Yea of course, if a boxer ever tells you, when they go into a ring, that they’re not scared is lying. Being scared and being nervous is what makes you perform and if I don’t have it, you won’t perform to your best ability.” He felt economics was the mainstay now in boxing, “It’s not so much boxing; it’s become more of a business, making money, getting your name known. It’s like being a kind of celebrity now. Back in the day, it was more the boxing and fighting and people coming to watch the fight but now there are loads of aspects to it. Look at the Chisora-Hay thing, it created massive media attention, he was everywhere, now Chisora is famous of that.”
Will we ever know what makes a boxer take the punches? I tell Daley you don’t see many rich people trying to get into the ring at York Hall, “Why is anyone going to risk their life if their comfortable with money, if you already got it then there is no point.”
So it’s about the money then I ask? He tells me if things don’t work out he’s got plan B already in action, “I’ve got my own recording studio business with my brother now that’s going well and I’ll have my own clients as a personal trainer. I’m a big joker, we only live once and I like to mess around and have fun, maybe acting after boxing one day, who knows.”
“Everyone has dreams,” he says, getting ready to head home. “You can’t judge anyone who wants to try something in life. Look at Vinny Jones, now he’s a Hollywood actor.”
I ask what it is that makes a grown man with a pretty face want to step into a ring, “I’m a flashy, skilled, fast, hard puncher,” he says, “Who likes to please a crowd but I’m humble at doing it. I’m flashy in the ring but not with my mouth, I like to do the talking in the ring.”
I keep at it and persist; where does his motivation lie: “I fight for personal reasons. With what me and my brother have been through, hopefully I can get to the top.”
Watch this space.
Doors open at 2:00pm
York Hall, Old Ford Road, Bethnal Green, London, E2 9PJ
Tickets available online:
Left Jab Promotions:
Tel: 07979 494950