Romeo Romaeo

Romeo Romaeo
Before speaking with some fighters you are aware of the reputation and perhaps have a preconception - some good, some bad.  Romeo Romaeo (7-0-0) has a reputation of being a bit cocky, perhaps big headed.  After all, this is the lad who is alleged to have walked out of the England setup over diva like demands if you read the reports.
Nothing of the sort.  I catch Romeo on a Sunday afternoon - a time when many 19 year olds may be basking in the last of the weekend sun in the beer garden, on in front of their game system.  He's light hearted, enjoys a joke and is happy to set the record straight about the England setup:

"It's said I turned my back on England, but the setup turned their back on me.  They knew I had a very specific set of dietary requirements - it's what my dad has always done for me.  There was never an issue with it, then  I was ready to enter the British finals and two days before I was told I had to do what all of the others were doing, or I would have to leave.  I said "OK" and left."
His dad is clearly a huge influence on his fledgling career.  After Romeo finished primary school he was taken out of the standard schooling system and taught from home, along with assistance from a tutor.  "It has benefitted me hugely" says Romeo.  "I got to do my education and my training together, I have always had the day broken up then with physical and mental education."
From such a young age Romeo was being nurtured to reach a physical, fighting peak.  Now that he is a professional his training is far from conventional - although he has his gym trainer Billy Dodds, his dad still helps with the physical side.  Follow Romeo on Twitter and you will often see photos of him out spending days in the woods making the most of the natural training grounds or swimming through the Thames."A lot of my training is similar to the military & SAS.  My dad has studied a lot of different methods and techniques.  A week before a fight he will have me out in the Forest of Dean, or running up the sand dunes.  I am who I am because of him."
Romeo's physical training schedule is almost religious.  He trains between 9 and 11 hours per day, every day.  The moments of rest he gets in this regime he is continuing his education.  Training starts every day at 5.30 in the morning and he is lucky if the day ends by 5 in the evening.  Is there a fear of physical burnout, given how hard he is working his 19 year old body?

"No - people have said it all along.  They have said when I hit 13 I will have damaged my body, 16, 18.  It hasn't happened, we keep proving people wrong.  I sometime pick up coughs and colds, but it's an old wives tale that being outside in the cold will give you a cold.  My body will be fine"

Romeo has had a upbringing a far cry from what most 19 year olds will have experienced.  It may go some way to explaining his flamboyance in the ring - he has showmanship that is in some ways reminiscent of Prince Naseem.  So does he base it on the Prince?  "No, I have created it myself.  I want to stand out, I like to look different.  Being those things makes you get noticed."  So is that Romeo's nature then, or something he puts on for the ring?  "It's a bit of putting it on as an act, it's not all me.  But again, I want to be noticed."

Part of that flamboyance is what also earned Romeo some critics after his professional debut.  After knocking out Andrei Podusov in the second round, Romaeo stood over his floored opponent - something perceived as a lack of respect to the Latvian.  Not so says Romeo.  "It was a misunderstanding.  I didn't do it to show off at all.  I had knocked him down and to be honest I just stood there seeing what had happened.  I didn't do it out of disrespect."
Romeo has fought now between super featherweight and light welterweight in his 7 fights.  He confirms that his next fight, due on 17th July at York Hall in London, will take place at lightweight.  The changes in weight classes says Romeo is a conscious decision.  "I'm only 19, we will see what weight my body settles at.  My power increased when I moved up to light welterweight but I kept my speed and stamina.  I feel like moving back down to lightweight I have been able to keep hold of the power."
No opponent has been announced for the July fight.  "It doesn't matter to me, I don't study my opponents.  I like to just get in there are fight."
It may not be ideal preparation for Romeo to not know his opponent for two weeks time, but you get the impression that this young man has the core training and background that it won't cause him an issue.  There may be unconventional methods behind his career but so far, nobody can doubt the effectiveness for this 19 year old.  Those methods have lead to a surprisingly educated young man with a work ethic that could carry him a long way.
Follow Romeo on Twitter @RomeoRomaeo