Is there a genetic code within fighters that’s passed down to aspiring offspring? Queensbury Promotions’ latest heavyweight signing, George Fox, spent much of his childhood sat on a North London ring apron eagerly absorbing the work of his father, the much respected boxer and trainer, Don Charles. Looking back, he ponders, was it just always in his blood?
“I remember from the age of six or seven seeing my dad in the gym. You know how you get some scenarios where you’re destined to do something? My dad obviously would’ve been fond of the idea but he never forced me into boxing or competing. So I drifted away from it. My friendship groups played basketball to quite a high level.
“Then I started to come back towards the gym from 14/15/16 and I fell in love with the sport. Dad was training Derek Chisora and other people. I was always fascinated with the whole pro setup, the music to walk out to, the press conferences, the mental battles that happen. That’s what I like.”
Fox has garnered a reputation as a highly skilled young heavyweight behind the scenes, sparring some of the best boxers the blue ribbon division has to offer and earning their respect as a result.
“It’s a funny situation when you don’t have a platform. I’m relatively unknown. Within the boxing world Tyson Fury knows me, Anthony Joshua knows me. Derek (Chisora), Dillian (Whyte). All these top guys are aware of me but the average casual doesn’t have a clue who I am!” He laughs.
“Heavyweight boxing is different from any other weight class. I’ve taken a lot of data from all these guys. From Dillian Whyte, from Tyson, from AJ in the earlier days, from Chisora. I’ve taken a lot of information from them. Their different angles, their different approaches, and knowing that you can come and mix it with those guys, it gives you that confidence that you can compete with anyone.”
The impression Fox made behind closed doors peaked early last year when Tyson Fury selected him to help with sparring in preparation for the Deontay Wilder rematch. It’s an experience the Londoner still gushes over.
“Prior to lockdown I was doing lots of work with Dillian Whyte. Then I got the call from Tyson and flew out to Vegas the first week of January and I was there through to the start of March. At the time I was being managed by S-Jam Promotions and Sam was on good speaking terms with Tyson. I’d also met him at a BT charity show and he said he’d bring me in in his next camp.
“Sam got in touch with him as well and given my height and the fact he was training for Wilder he was looking for sparring partners in the range of 6’5”/6’6”/6’7”. So myself and a cruiserweight who my dad trains called Jordan Thompson and David Adeleye, we all went out there. And the rest is history. We had a great great time there.” Fox recalls.
“In terms of the experience, sparring with someone like that, it was priceless. I’ve mixed it with pretty much every heavyweight domestically and he was significantly better than anyone I’ve ever been in the ring with.”
It wasn’t only the time spent with Fury that felt beneficial. Fox quickly formed a close bond with the champion’s trainer, Sugar Hill, sparking a period of reflection and adjustment in his own development as a fighter.
“Sugar is kind of like my uncle now! We talk a lot about boxing. He gave me a few one-on-one sessions. Out of boxing as well, coming from Detroit, there’s quite a big bowling state so we’d go bowling together a lot. We kind of hit it off. He spent a lot of time just breaking down the fundamentals and the foundation of that whole Kronk style. And, as a big man, learning how to use your size and your authority and commanding the ring, controlling the space. It’s been nice, it’s been a pleasure to learn from someone like that,” says Fox.
“It’s something that my dad had already had in the works. We’ve always known that I have certain unique attributes as a heavyweight and he’s always wanted me to be believe in my size. I’m 6’7” and 125 kilos and I carry that weight naturally, not with gym weight. So we’re just learning how to utilise that and use it to my advantage. It’s something that we’ve been trying to manifest and from meeting Sugar and getting a second opinion, so to speak , it’s just helped enforce that transition.”
With Frank Warren now in his corner plans are being formulated for Fox to step up his activity in the ring and build a profile of his own. Surveying the landscape of the division he’s looking to topple, his thoughts on the competition in front of him are clear.
“I’ve always enjoyed learning from the lighter weights because I don’t really think heavyweight boxers are that good, to be honest! I think a lot of them are sub-standard in a lot of departments and being a heavyweight boxer you only need one or two exceptional attributes to become a world champion, whereas in other weight classes you need to be pretty well rounded. Apart from the greats I don’t really watch too many heavyweights.
“I’m a big Canelo fan, Terence Crawford. I’m a big Floyd fan. I was a big fan of Hopkins. He didn’t have the most fan friendly style but his ring intelligence is through the roof. (I’m a) huge Andre Ward fan. His in-fighting, I think that’s something that is massively overlooked, more so in this country. The actual in-fight management of boxing, to nullify someone’s perceived strengths and take it away from them. People don’t really focus on that too much.”
Under the tutelage of Don Charles Fox is continuing down a well-worn path of father/son partnerships that have proven so fruitful in boxing. Being the son of a man as revered as Charles has, quite literally, come with its fair share of challenges in the gym but Fox has welcomed each gut check that’s come his way and he now feels ready to leave his own mark.
“What you do get is people saying, “Hey, that’s Don Charles’s son! Let me test him out to see if he’s that good!” You get that kind of thing every now and again. But that’s welcome, that’s only going to make you improve anyway. I’m here to shake things up. There are things in this country that I just don’t think people excel at. The whole mental battle, the press conferences, the psychological game. I love all that stuff. That’s all part of the fight. I’m here to bring my own identity, my own style. I feel that I can bring something that’s not currently here.”