The unbelievable story of Scott Dixon, champion boxer

Ten questions for boxing champ Scott Dixon

Ten questions for boxing champ Scott Dixon

What does it feel like going into the boxing ring?

It’s the most bizarre feeling in the world really. I love the thrill and not knowing what’s going to happen next, you know? It could be your last day on the planet. It’s that, the adrenaline, the anticipation of what happens next, you can’t quite capture it but… some fighters hate the feeling but me, personally, I love it. A lot of fighters don’t like it, they build on it, they dwell on it. That’s the real part I like.

Does the beating and punching damage your brain after a career of fighting?

I suppose it does. I mean, any kind of contact sport, really, ice hockey, rugby, these are all dangerous sports. I’d rather box than play rugby, it looks a bit rough, you know? At the end of the day, it’s a contact sport. Punishment is inevitable. It’s an occupational hazard.

Have you ever been scared of killing someone on the ring?

It can happen. I lost one of my dearest friends when I had my first pro fight on Friday 13 October 1995. One of my best friends, James Money, died in the ring in the fight after me. He was only, like 24 years old, but we know what we sign up for, you know? And if you ask your opponent whether he fears this, of course he’s going to say it, but we know it can happen to us, it can happen to them. That’s just the fight game.

If you asked my opponent: if you know the next punch you throw is going to kill the guy, how many are you going to throw? I guarantee he tells you five… that undeniable self-belief, and whatever happens along the way, then so be it.

Photo by James Bianchi
Photo by James Bianchi

Do you ever ‘hate’ the boxer you are fighting?

You don’t, mate, it’s all a show. It’s all fabricated nonsense. Every fighter respects the other fighter. You believe in yourself wholeheartedly, that 100% undeniable self-belief that every athlete has pre-installed. It’s just a gimmick to sell more tickets. And because hate will kill you faster than a bullet, you need controlled aggression. Hatred makes you do silly things and work too hard and spend too much exertion in your punches. In the end, you’ll run out of gas and be run over, you know? So hatred doesn’t exist, you know.

 

How did you get your start in boxing?

My grandfather, Toby Dixon, was a famous boxing coach. Since the age of 4, 5, he used to come home from work and throw the gloves on the living room floor and we’d start moving about. I was always in the gym with my grandfather, he had a gym. I was there every day. I just came from that. It was in the blood I guess.

And then from there I started boxing out. I had my first fight when I was seven years old. I had 30 fights before I was twelve, another 100 fights before I was 17. And when I turned professional I was the youngest professional fighter in the UK ever in history. And then from there, I’ve had, like, 280 fights now in total, something like that.

 

What was life in Scotland like before coming to Malta?

It was a great place to grow up, beautiful place but rough, tough and nasty is all I remember. I come from the road, if you like, the streets. I grew up in housing estates. Glasgow has always been a rough, tough place, not for the faint-hearted. So coming to Malta was like coming from that to Disneyland. But, hey, we adapt, we adjust, bit by bit. But it was tough.

Tell us about the attack on your life…

Back in 2004 I was viciously attacked, assaulted, and basically left in a field to die.

The assailants who had done it were actually three good friends of mine who were paid by jealous boxing promoters to end my career because I wouldn’t resign my contract with the promoters. I spoke to the promoters a couple of days before, I said to them: ‘my contract’s expired, I would like to go back to London to resurrect my career down south.’ These two gangster boys, i.e., boxing promoters, said to me: ‘listen, if you leave us, you won’t fight again.’ I said: ‘listen, I’m a sportsman, behave.’ And I left.

My friends arranged to pick me up a couple of days later. I saw them in the car as I was pulling the garage shutter down and, boom, I felt a baseball bat on the side of my head. They dragged me out into the car and took me into a field in the countryside where they shot me twice, stabbed me 18 times, broke both legs, both arms, stabbed me through the hands, the feet, fractured my skull and basically left me to die.

I played dead in the end, and they left. I opened my eyes in the middle of nowhere in this field. I had no idea where I was, my bearings were totally out. I tried to stand up a few times, couldn’t do so because both legs were broken, kept falling over. I was just about to give up, roll over, and die. But I heard a voice in my head, and the voice said: ‘sing.’

At first I couldn’t remember any songs. I was really racking my brain to remember one song to keep my afloat. The only song that I could remember was a song from Sunday school and it was One more step along the world I go. So I started to sing it louder. The voice is saying in my head: ‘sing loud, sing loud.’ I am singing and I am crawling. I managed to crawl to a farmhouse in the middle of nowhere. I saw the light on in the window.

I go up to the window and you can imagine it must have been like a scene from a horror movie: guy is lying on the sofa, sleeping, and he’s kind of coming awake; I’m banging on the window, blood everywhere, all over the window, and I could see him calling his wife in a panic. They came out, I told them my name, that I’ve been attacked. ‘Can you help me?’ They phoned an ambulance and I managed to get to hospital. By the grace of God, I made it through it, you know?

How did you manage to get back on your feet?

Obviously the big problem was that the doctor told me that I’d never fight again. The injuries: I was viciously stabbed in the legs, two bullets in the legs, ruptured all my tendons, I had a thing called drop foot where I couldn’t raise my foot up and I had to wear special braces and learn how to walk again. I just had to get through those hard days, one day at a time, sweet Jesus, as the song goes. Just day by day I improved, I kept my will to live and to recover and to move forward from that shady part of my life.

Looking back at your career, are you satisfied with your achievements?

I think you can always be your own worst critic and say if I’d done this and if I’d done that, I could have projected myself to a better place. What I always did back in the day is that I always gave a 110%, that’s one thing I’ve always done. I applied myself. My grandfather was a very strict boxing coach and whatever he said went down. So I really did apply myself. It was only in my later career that I started to cheat a little bit, not go to bed on time, maybe have a drink, smoke a cigarette, things that people go through. You can always be your own worst critic and say if I’d done this right and if I’d done that right… but, hey, it is what it is. I don’t think we should dwell on it too much. You just need to look at the wall in my gym and you’d see what I’ve done.

For me it’s better to be king for a day than nobody for a lifetime. Obviously I was world champion, I won three versions of a world championship, but the one that stands out in my head was actually winning the Commonwealth Championship. It’s a hard time because you have the Commonwealth countries, Ghana, some really tough, strong fighters. To win the Commonwealth title I had to beat the world’s number five. A guy from New Zealand, John Sullivan, he gave me one tough fight. This guy kept coming like Pacman, eating every punch I was throwing. I managed to win in points by a nice margin but then in the 11th round he dropped me down and it was a real Rocky Balboa fight—to get to the end and become the victor. It really stands out in my mind, plus it was show time, primetime live on Sky television. That was probably my greatest.

You recently found God… tell us about that

Up until 1999, I had no idea who Jesus Christ was. I was training at the Peacock Gym in London so we all arranged an excursion to go to New York and watch a massive fight. There were some good, bad and ugly characters: there were some gangster boys, some fighters, some footballers, football hooligans, you know, infamous kind of people. There were like twenty of us walking down Broadway and we’re going to Madison Square Garden for a fight. It feels electric.

We’re walking down the street and I look across the street at the walkway, the traffic lights, and I see a guy dressed in the image of Christ. And I’m looking at this guy and go: what’s he doing, standing and dressed as Jesus in the middle of the street? I also noticed that nobody was looking at this guy. Nobody, only me. And he was only looking at me. And I kept looking back and looking back and his eyes were following me everywhere. After a fourth, fifth time, I look round and, boom, he’s gone. I stop and I’m like, ‘What happened there? Did I just see that? What was I feeling?’ My friends were asking: what’s wrong with you, you’ve seen a ghost? Something like that. I walk ten yards and we continue to start walking and just stop outside the shop and I see a T-shirt shop to my left and remember the Pepsi logo.

‘Pepsi the choice of all generations’, but the Pepsi was gone and it said Jesus. Boom! I find myself in the shop, I pay a few dollars and I take the T-shirt. Again, my friends are telling me are you crazy? Are you losing it Scott? What’s wrong with you?

Anyway, I’m back in London, training, at the Famous Peacock gym in East London, and there’s this famous trainer, Jimmy Tibbs, became a born-again Christian, an evangelist, a pastor, a preacher, and he was watching me and he want: ‘Scott have you found Jesus?’ and I went, ‘jimmy, I never knew I was supposed to be looking for him’. He said well he found you kid, you’re wearing that T-shirt’.

I started going to Gospel church, you know every Sunday, prayer meetings. Then in 2001, I was fighting for a world title, against a guy called Takalo, so a week before the fight, it was actually 9/11, and my aunty died a day after 9/11, so it really broke me, I was broken to pieces, I’m in London, I’m alone at a training camp, a week to go, I don’t feel like fighting, so my uncle Jimmy comes down to see me, we go up Leicester square, to take my mind off things, so I go through Leicester Square, and I see a guy on a box in the pouring rain, ‘Jesus is coming, the end of the world is now, repent and you shall be saved,’ and there’s nobody listening to this guy, I feel a hand on my shoulder, and I feel the peace going right through my body, I look back and I see the same image I saw in New York, I see the image of Jesus Christ, I couldn’t speak, and he walked through the crowd, and I’m looking, so I look at my uncle Jimmy, we both looked at each other at the same time, and both said in sync, that was Jesus and I’ve seen that he saw it as well, and that’s what this is. The Bible says, ‘everybody will have a chance to know me before I come again’. I was graced.

Scott Dixon's autobiography 'Super: The Road From Hell' is out now (EU) and (US)

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