George Kambosos Jr. is living proof that anything is possible for Australia’s young boxers. Teaching them that to get through the battles, you’ve got enter the trenches.
The lightweight champion’s boxing journey started when he was only 11-years-old. Self-admittedly overweight as a child, Kambosos found himself struggling to keep his fitness up while playing rugby league in Sydney’s southern suburbs.
Sick of being ridiculed, he decided to pick up the boxing gloves. Not long after, the weight freefell, and his boxing journey began. Kambosos quickly lost 14 kgs and shaped up into an amateur champion, picking up a few national tournament wins as a teenager.
AUSSIE CHAMP: Underdog Kambosos stuns boxing with all-time world title upset
‘Take it like a champ’: Sore loser mocked for bizarre post-fight rant claiming he beat Aussie
‘One of the great performances ever by an Aussie boxer’ as Pacquiao ‘proud’ of Kambosos
The Australian trained under Igor Goloubev, alongside fellow Australian boxing champ Tim Tsyzu, at Kostya Tszyu’s Boxing Academy. While the two no longer train at the same academy, their rise to become the county’s top two fighters is a story unheard of in Australian boxing history.
Fight after fight, Kambosos sharpened his skills until eventually, he decided to turn professional. Fighting at the Croatian Club in Sydney, he picked up his first win against Jayson Mac Gura.
Making a fast, frightening impact on the Australian boxing stage, Kambosos’ fight promoter at the time, Paul Nasari, said he knew the young fighter was ‘always destined’ to win a world title.
“George came to me when he turned pro,” Nasari told foxports.com.au.
“He won New South Wales Australian titles and regional titles, all on my shows, and I’m very proud to say that.
“Mate, I was in tears when his arm went up this afternoon.”
There aren’t many Australian fighters who enter the ring carrying two flags, but Kambosos’ proud Greek heritage is indisputable.
Growing up with a Spartan background, he uses his ancestors’ battle-hardened courage and tenacity to claim victory over his foes. He even carries his ancestors’ war cry as a tattoo on his back: ‘Never retreat, never surrender’.
That war cry took him to his first Australian lightweight title against Robert Tooney in 2014 – His sixth professional boxing victory.
Kambosos took every fight like its own story. Never looking ahead and always focusing on the battle to come. And with every battle, as is the case with many Greek fighters, he fought with his family by his side.
Kambosos’ loyalty to his family remains number one on his path to success. The first time he entered the ring, his dad was behind him as his biggest supporter. This remained the same for his fight against Teófimo López, where his dad stood beside him as his manager.
“He wears his heart on his sleeve, his dad, he’s very close to him,” Nasari said.
Kambosos’ reasons for picking up new fights have changed over his professional career, but the 28-year-old always steps in the ring with his family in mind.
After picking up his 20th straight professional boxing victory against López, he dedicated the win to his late grandfather, George Kambosos along with his wife and children.
“This is for my grandfather, George Kambosos, who passed away two months ago, I know he’s in here with me,” Kambosos said after being announced the victor.
Even after Lopez’s bizarre interview crash, Kambosos drew the attention to his opponent’s family, saying “I want him to enjoy his son”.
“Forget all this, our kids are the most important thing,” Kambosos said.
Kambosos’ victory earned him the WBA (Super), IBF, WBO, and The Ring lightweight titles. His former promoter says the 28-year-old has done wonders for boxing in Australia, and will undoubtedly become an inspiration for all young boxers.
“Timmy Tszyu has come along and got it on the map and with this win, it’s just gone to show that us Aussies can mix it with the world’s best, (and) we’ve seen that today,” Nasari said.
“Today, he’s just shown the bloody world just what a good fighter he is. No other Australian did what he did today.”