Ryad Merhy has been going around in circles for a long time and will finally be able to heat his gloves this weekend for an exhibition in Charleroi. So as not to go crazy and to avoid having rusty fists after 18 months of forced unemployment. With a little more free time than usual, he returned to “Locker Room” on his career, his adventures and the life of a pro boxer.
How did you adapt your schedule with a baby of a few months?
“I work overtime but it’s pure happiness. I take care of the little one when I come back from training. Then, when my partner comes home, she takes care of her more.”
Are you very tired?
“I am not sleeping in the room at the moment but I am taking care of the other two little ones (8 and 10 years old).”
They say that fatherhood changes a man …
“I’m getting more gaga. I was not like that. I give him a lot of kisses. I also talk to him a little bit gaga even though I know it’s not good. The year 2021 has started well for me with my title and the birth of the little one. “
Does your WBA light-heavyweight title (-90.719 kg), which you obtained after the dismissal of Beibut Shumenov, have a frustrating side?
“We felt that it was going to happen. I would have liked to recover the belt in the ring. The other irritated me. It’s been years that he has been struggling and wasting our time. This title will allow me to see on long term and to participate in real battles. “
How did he give you a hard time?
“His manager, Don King, has records on everyone in the federation. As soon as an opponent puts him in danger, she gives him more advantages. The worst part is that he doesn’t need this title. because he comes from one of the richest families in Kazakhstan. I don’t understand. “
Are there shenanigans?
“Boxing is pure business. The WBA is losing credibility. It is putting new titles on the line; it is scheming.”
Do you feel it in the ring?
“No, but in the instances.”
What does this title mean to you?
“I was interim champion in 2019 without feeling like a champion. I was just a boxer. Now I can say it, I’m a champion. Even if it was out of the way. Now I can start making money. . “
When we think of boxing, we see Mayweather slamming wads of cash in the evening …
“Only 15% of top boxers can afford this life.”
And you ?
“I am lucky to have my Adeps contract and my sponsors to avoid taking my head with the combat bonuses. I still hope they will come later.”
How did you live these 18 months without a fight?
“I thought about quitting, taking a break. Things weren’t going fast enough for me. I had been dragging me around for my title for two years. It was taking my head. The Covid fell at the right time because I was about to announce a one-year retirement to take time for myself. And for my family. “
You were just fed up …
“Yes, exactly. A lot has happened since. I was able to make my little retirement at my ease without officially announcing it.”
How do you deal with only boxing two to three times a year in competition?
“At first you have to learn and fight five or six times a year. Now it takes me four or six months between each fight. Boxing allows you to do a little what you want to do. You can take a month for yourself. by releasing the drive. “
You would have thought that you were a hard worker throughout the year …
“No. Not at all. That’s my problem. I’m going to be careful with my food as I approach my fights because I have to lose weight. But otherwise I’m a good living.”
Are you a little bit crazy about food?
“I eat everything. But the children’s problem is that it’s burgers, pizza, etc. And not just once a week. That’s kind of the problem (laughs). But my mantra, it is: if I do something stupid, I make up for it directly afterwards. The next day, I am on the bike to lose the weight gained. “
How to avoid brooding over a defeat for six months?
“I lost only once. I thought about it thoroughly but I knew why I had lost. It was not the real Ryad in the ring. If I lose and I did not give my all, I can only blame myself. In boxing, you know why you lose. You can’t lie in the ring. “
You spent some time in the United States. Why not have tried to break into this boxing country?
“Who am I over there? I have a talent but I remain the little Belgian. People will maybe use me to make their boxers climb. I preferred to come back to become someone in Belgium and sell myself. at a better price in the United States. “
What do you mean by “use”?
“Some people want to live the American dream. They think that America is the door open to success. But behind there are shenanigans. When I was in the USA, I was with another Belgian. We had the same contract. on the table. I didn’t sign it, he did. Over the next two years, I had three times as many fights as him. The first fights there, he fought in small countries . And each time at his expense. In Belgium, we just paid the opponents to move. “
How did you get to the USA?
“I had gone to St-Barthelemy to work as a seasonal there. I told myself that I could not come back to Belgium without having boxed. I was near Miami, so I went there. I was able to train like a pro for three months on a reduced budget. I enjoyed it so much that I wanted to come back there one day to box. “
Why did you leave Belgium on a whim when you were young?
“I had stopped my studies and had done training. It was no longer working, I had an argument with my mother. The father of my girlfriend at the time lived there and he offered me the opportunity to join him. “
Would you let your daughter stop school?
“Never. After that, my mother was very hard on me when I left school. I told her, like all kids: ‘Don’t worry, I’m managing.’ I had decided to be a pro boxer and, when I have one thing in mind, it’s that I feel it and I go all out. We spoke little for a year. When I came back she told me to do it right. “
Did you need this atypical course?
“I had no choice, I had no diploma. I had given myself three to five years to break through. If I had not succeeded, I would have given up everything to start my studies again.”
How were you at school?
“There were two Riyadh. In primary school, I was the boring guy. I did a lot of bullshit. To the point that I forgot them. I shouldn’t be pissed off in the humanities but I was calmer.
Did you defend the friends?
“Yes, definitely. I was the vigilante. I didn’t like injustice.”
How did your education go?
“I was born in Ivory Coast. My grandmother took care of me for two years there. Then I came to Belgium when my mother finished all the paperwork. I did not know my father and my mom took over her role. She was tough on us. And then my sister came along and she became flexible. When my sister was answering my mom, she wouldn’t say anything to her. “
When did you start boxing?
“Around my 14th birthday. I don’t know how. It was by chance. I needed to play sports to channel myself. I moved too much for my mother. I started with judo but it’s too slow . We taught you how to fall, it was not fun enough, fast, tiring. After my first boxing training, I was exhausted. I loved it. “
What is the essential quality for a boxer?
“The discipline. That’s mostly it. Then a lot of reps. But don’t think I’m spending my time jumping rope. I ate way too much in Miami. It got me too drunk.”
How do you feel after a fight?
“The same evening, I don’t sleep. I’m boosted in adrenaline. I have a sleepless night with the team. I almost make myself a bottle of champagne on my own. I will always take pictures with everyone. I’m going home. then at the hotel around 3 or 4 in the morning and I watch my game again. By then, the bottle of champagne is finished. “
Are you still lucid?
“It depends on when the bottle ends (laughs).”
And the next day ?
“I have breakfast with my whole team. And then I’m broke and I sleep.”
What pains do you feel?
“It depends on how hard the fight is. Sometimes I’m very sore. Sometimes my mouth is open all over because I have been beaten. Sometimes I can’t eat normally. The worst is when I get beaten up. ‘forget my cuts and make myself a burger or durum with samurai sauce. I’m not talking about the carnage. “