Linus Udofia

"I want to turn my passion into a pay cheque"

Linus Udofia knows what he wants out of the sport of boxing; it's not just a 9-5 for him, he already has one of those.  He's working hard now to set the foundations of achieving his dreams he has had since being an amateur.  

"I give it 100% all of the time" says the 23 year old from Luton.  "But it's hard; I'm up training at half five, then I work a full-time job, then it's back to training in the evening.  I have to make sacrifices to achieve what I want to.  It's hard for my girlfriend, but she is so supportive of me in doing it.  She asked me what I wanted when I was in the amateurs, did I want to make a success of this?  When I said yes and decided to turn over to being a professional, she supported me completely.  I appreciate that, as there's a lot of fighters who don't have that same support.'

Udofia made his professional bow in March 2016, 12 months ago.  In that time he has entered the ring on three occasions, each time returning to the changing rooms with the win.  A classy boxer, a thinking man's boxer, his style is reflective of his thoughtful persona.  No rushing in, no jumping on opponents from the opening bell, but an ability to assess what is in front of him and tailor his fight accordingly.  It resulted in his first stoppage win in October 2016.  He now approached fight number four on Saturday 18th March at York Hall in London on a Goodwin Boxing card, taking on Dean Croft.  Has he been able to find out much about his Yorkshire opponent?

"I've seen a little bit of him on YouTube, there's some footage up of him against previous opponents.  It was going to be Liam Griffiths but that got changed.  I'll be like I always am though, I'll take my time to work out my opponent, figure them out in the ring, then I'll get to work."

The fights that Udofia has had to date have been learning bouts.  They've helped him adapt to the professional style and the rigours that come with it.  So after 12 months of activity, what is the main lesson that Linus has taken from the sport to date?  "I've learned that you need to take every day seriously.  You need to take this whole sport seriously, it's not a game.  If you don't, you'll get found out under the lights of a boxing ring and that's not somewhere that you want it to happen."

One thing that has been notable in the rise of Udofia has been an ever increasing fan base.  What started as just friends and family has swelled, clearly others being impressed by his style and abilities. It is something that is overwhelming for the young man, who understands that following a fighter's career is both a financial and a time expense:

"The people that have supported me have been amazing.  I've had people there for every single fight, people that return from day one.  I'll pay every one of them back one day, perhaps they'll be the ones walking me to the ring when I fight for a title!  But really it is so humbling, and I don't want to single out any one person as that wouldn't be fair, but there are so many.  Going to a fight, people may say it's only £35, but then it's taking a day out in London, the travelling and the expense, which can easily go over a hundred pounds.  The fact they would do that to come and support me, it's just amazing.  When I'm about to make my ring walk, I'll look up at all of them supporting me and it's such an inspiration."

Some of the support that he has garnered has been through social media platforms; the fact that Udofia is an articulate and amusing boxer doesn't go unnoticed baby fight fans, and he has been able to build his profile to the boxing public.  Again though, he recognises the effort that others have put in on his behalf.

"I've been so lucky with the support I've had outside the ring.  The first year of being a pro, things have happened as I expected inside, but I've been able to get so much help from outside the ring and it's so appreciated.  People like Sam O'Reilly at Fight Talk, he's someone like me, that is doing it for his passion and for the love of the sport.  People doing interviews like this one.  They don't have to do it, but they take the time to be there and that's really humbling.  There are other people, people that introduce you to new people.  Like my friend Duke who has been a huge help in designing my logo, my sponsors who helped build my website.  It all helps me build a brand as a boxer, these people help me out in their time and I am so thankful for it."

There is also a particular mention for a man who has been especially supportive of Udofia's career, as well as the other fighters that come out of his Bedfordshire town.  "There's a special shoutout for JP Smith of Boxing Luton; that man puts so much time and effort into supporting not just me, but all the boxers in Luton.  He supports us all and creates opportunities for us, that's huge.  He has work and has a family, so to give his time to helping out the boxers of Luton, we can't thank him enough.  He's genuinely a great help for every one of us.  He'll grow as we grow too, it won't go unnoticed."

JP Smith will be travelling down to York Hall on the 18th, along with over 1,000 other boxing fans for what promises to be a phenomenal night of action.  Two English title fights and a Southern Area belt are on show, as well as a number of other top prospects from the Goodwin Boxing stable.  So how does it feel in only his fourth bout to be a part of one of the biggest non-televised nights of 2017?  "This is just a dream" he tells me.  "It's the best card I've been involved in through my career and it's an honour that Steve (Goodwin, Promoter) would put me on it.  I want to be someone that shines on it, for people to remember my fight and remember me.  I want more of these nights."

He is approaching the fight in confident mood, something he has taken from the preparation of Coach Terry Steward.  "I feel so much fitter approaching this fight.  In the gym Terry keeps us guessing, he changes the routines and the work that we're doing all the time.  It's great because it stops us being complacent in our training, keeps us on our toes.  I genuinely feel the best I ever have coming into this fight."  

There are also other elements that Linus has built into his preparation this time around; yoga and pilates.  Once associated to the middle aged lady more than the boxer, the fitness regime has become a key component of his training camps and ones that he feels he is reaping the benefits from.

"It's something that I've added in, I do about 5 hours a week of yoga and pilates.  It's good for so many things.  Yoga stretches every part of your body in a way you couldn't do otherwise.  The work you do helps strengthen your core, which is so important to a boxer.  It improves your balance, all things that you need in the ring". As well as the physical, does Udofia feel there is a mental advantage to be gained from the exercises?  "Yeah, it's all about calming your breathing and helping you relax.  It's things that will help me on fight night for sure."

Udofia is keen not to look past his upcoming fight, but when we discuss the potential for the year ahead he is as grounded in his ambitions as he is smart in the ring.  "Everyone wants to be the big dog right now" he assesses.  "The fact is that I'm not ready to be the big dog right now, but I trust those people that are handling my career to know when the time is right.  When Terry (Steward, Trainer) and Steve (Goodwin, Promoter) think I'm in the position to go and fight big names or for titles then I'll listen to them.  They've done this before and I trust them to know what's best for me."

Udofia does dare to dream though.  He talks of a time in the future, when the 9-5 will no longer exist and his boxing will be at the forefront.  He is able to compartmentalise it, think about the bigger picture and why he is making the sacrifices today.  "Think of what I can do when I reach the point when I'm not working full-time.  I give it 100% that I can now, but when I am able to concentrate only on my boxing I'll be even more focussed and put even more into it.  I know that time will come and it will help push me on to even bigger things."  

Once when I asked Linus how far he could go in the sport, his response was 'how far can a tree grow?'.  The answer to that riddle is still unsolved, but what is clear is that his ambitions have remained to make the most of his potential and his own tree now has firmly planted roots.  One year on from the debut and with so much in place outside of the ring as well as inside, Linus Udofia is a boxer who has the sky as his limit.  When he gets there, he wants to take all of those with him who have shown their support.

Linus wanted to give a thank you to the sponsors who are able to help him through his training camps and his building as a fighter.  They are:

Vertigo Property Developers 

CWood and Son Luton Ltd 
Pep Talk UK who have helped him since his amateur days 
Advanced Roofing Solutions Ltd 
LJB Electrical Contractors
Corefit Pilates  
All Time Removals.