Francy Luzoho is a fighter with a real edge. A suitably steely edge, shaped by years of struggles, tough choices and the endurance of racism. A Dublin native, with roots in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Luzoho is taking his first steps in pro boxing but already stands out as a fighter willing to do things differently to make a lasting impression.
“Not a lot of people would take a 6-1 fighter on their pro debut and stop them in the third round,” 140-pounder Luzoho (1-1, 1 KO) told Boxing Social. “I believe you have to test yourself, you know?”
‘The Butcher Boy’ certainly impressed on his debut, stopping Bournemouth’s Sam Jones in three rounds before taking another challenge against Martin Quinn (3-1, 1 KO), where he lost a contentious decision.
Starting a career up against prospects with solid records is normally the preserve of career journeymen. Luzoho certainly isn’t aiming to be one of those and argues his ambitious matchmaking will eventually take him to the pinnacle of the sport.
The Irish fighter is keen to critique the boxing norm, where prospects line-up journeyman after journeyman, building up their records and fiercely protecting their ‘O’.
“I always said to myself, even when I was an amateur, ‘Look, you don’t want to fight someone that’s been beat a hundred times’. People say, ‘Oh it’s a learning fight’, but you do your learning in the gym, in sparring. Face champions. Push yourself there.
“You go through these camps where people are preparing themselves for massive fights. That’s how you do your homework. So, do you do your homework then, just to go do your homework again in the ring? No. You do your homework to go test yourself in the ring.”
It’s an admirable philosophy and one that’s bound to interest boxing fans, if he continues to throw himself whole-heartedly into competitive fights. Luzoho argues it can take him all the way.
“The ambition is to be the first black Irish world champion,” he said. “It’s something that’s never been done before, so I want to be the first to do it.”
Luzoho wants to do it the old-fashioned way, too, fighting tough fights at every turn. It’s the fighters of yesteryear who inspire him.
“The boxers of nowadays, like Ryan Garcia, Devin Haney, they’re social media stars,” he said. “They’re not someone you look up to and think, ‘I want to be him’. The example they set is that you’ve got to keep posting stuff, keep calling people out and you’ll be noticed by a promoter. It’s quite sad to be honest, but it’s the time we live in.”
The determined 25-year-old believes that he can ultimately become the sort of role model that he doesn’t see in stars like Garcia and Haney. He wants to pave the way for disadvantaged youngsters of all colours and backgrounds, having faced plenty of trials and tribulations as a young black man growing up in Dublin.
“Growing up in them times, I encountered a lot of racism,” recalled Luzoho. “I can’t sugarcoat it. I’m not condoning what they did, but it did make me a lot tougher. It gave me a much thicker skin.
“I grew up in Blanchardstown, it’s kind of inbetween now but when I was growing up it was a rough area. A lot of kids there were lost and a lot were trying to make some kind of name for themselves, so you’re constantly in altercations that could go in any direction.”
Luzoho alludes to a tension and anticipation that would follow him – and indeed any young black man – around the streets of Dublin. The fighter says things are much better now and Ireland has seen a marked decline in overt racism. But growing up in that state of constant combat-readiness – and making regular fight-or-flight decisions – has shaped who he is today.
As the oldest sibling, he felt responsibility to look after his family from a young age, keeping an eye on his sisters while they navigated the challenges of a community that wasn’t always welcoming.
“Back then it was a lot harder,” he said, “because you’d be the only black person in your neighbourhood. Maybe there’d be two or three, but you’d be spread out. You wouldn’t even know there was another black person in the neighbourhood and all your friends would be white. There was a lot of tension back then, things would go off a lot quicker when you’re around other people and you’re the only person from a different country.
“You had to be streetwise. You had to know when to stay, when to leave, or when to be ready to fight. Growing up being black and having an Irish accent and trying to make a way for myself, it’s a lot harder because people look down upon you as well. Now it’s a lot easier, but when I was growing up people were quick to use the racial words against you and that would put you in a sticky position. You’d end up fighting for the pride, the honour of it.
“So, growing up wasn’t easy, but I’m glad I went through those things as a kid because it’s made me tougher, it’s made me hungrier and it’s added the fire in my heart to better my family’s life and achieve what I want to achieve.”
He has already vaulted some significant hurdles to become a professional boxer. From racism to a late start in the sport – having put on the gloves for the first time at 18 – it’s all helped to shape his hard-edged, winning mentality.
Ever the family man, Luzoho is spending lockdown in Dublin, but has made Lanzarote his training base. There, his gruelling work-outs are overseen by former pro, Johnathan ‘Thunderbolt’ O’Brien, at Champions Gym.
With a mountain to climb to reach his lofty goals, Luzoho believes O’Brien with his “old school” training techniques is the perfect man to guide his career. A new managerial deal with former world title challenger Ryan Rhodes should also open a few doors towards Luzoho’s ultimate goals.
It’s early days for the Dubliner, but even by the standards of a professional boxer, he oozes drive and vision. Many fans are sure to enjoy his old-fashioned approach to matchmaking, just as much as they will empathise with his story. It promises to be a career worth following.