By Oliver McManus @OliverGMcManus
Tashan Dwyer is, at first glance, no different to your archetypal professional boxer – a physically sculpted, towering figure resemblant of a man clearly dedicated to the sport.
Get speaking to him, however, and he becomes artichoke-esque with layer after layer being gradually revealed. I picked up the phone to find out a little bit more about the man.
Boxing being used as a means to avoid trouble is a story we’ve all heard before, Tashan caveated his opening narrative by admitting as much. Not wanting to “cry wolf”, Dwyer insisted his background was merely a chapter in his life, not the overwhelming story.
“When I left high school I only really wanted to punch people”, he admitted with true nonchalance, “but when I was about 17, 18, I started to take the sport as a whole more seriously. Since then I’ve dedicated my life to the sport.
Growing up my lifestyle was a bit mad, kept on getting into trouble, and me and my friend, one day, just said, ‘we gotta leave the road alone, there’s nothing here for us’. Boxing gave me that guidance, discipline and direction. Without it you could say I was floating around in society, to be honest.”
After ‘getting serious’ with the sport Dwyer represented Battersea and, for the final two years, Islington on the amateur circuits. “Character building” is an apt description that sprang to both my mind and Tashan’s when discussing his experiences. As is often the case, nothing is ever easy or simple as an amateur.
“A lot of things I’m expecting to experience as a professional won’t faze me. I was chucked in at the deep end as an amateur, to be honest, so I know what to expect,” explained the unpaid apprentice of seven years,
“I had a fight, to be honest with you I can’t remember his name, but it was in 2013 and he was a highly touted boy. I wasn’t meant to win, my coach knew me well enough to know what I could do, and I just beat him up for three rounds.
That was probably my best performance. He fought up at Nemesis, and it announced myself on the scene. Only then did I start thinking about these ‘what if’s’, in terms of turning professional.”
Confident in his groundwork as an amateur, Dwyer took that decision to turn professional a few months back. Enjoying life as a free agent he made his debut on March 9th, as part of a British Warriors show in Watford, and is keen to hit a run of momentum.
“My performance a couple weeks ago was pretty average because I know my standards and my ability. When I look back on it I do think I was very harsh on myself immediately after, it felt a lot worse when I was in the ring.”
I’m a Thinker
Fighting a habitual loser in Karim Khan, who has yet to see his hand raised victoriously as a professional, Tashan notched up a breezy 40-37 points victory. Khan, himself, is not the easiest opponent to look good against with a very negative fight style.
“He’s awkward, I felt like I had to force the fight otherwise we’d just be standing there doing nothing. I always tell myself to hold my composure, stick to the jab and then build from that. I’m a thinker, in terms of fighting style, I can naturally fight but I’ve learned how to box and that’s the difference.”
A thinker in the ring and outside of it, too. Throughout speaking to him it was clear he had confidence in what he was saying and was very deliberate with his choice of words, always taking time to ponder what he was saying and if it could be put in a better way.
This consideration emerged when discussing the team around him; managed by David Cowland, Dwyer informed me he deliberately didn’t want strings attached to any one promoter so that he could fight as and when he felt necessary.
“World champion and nothing less” is the stated ambition for The Titan and his team. Success, however, means far more than just belts on the mantle and money in the bank. Success for Dwyer, born in Wembley, means finding values and being able to lead a better life.
“The way my life has been, nothing has been given to me. As long as you believe in yourself, wholeheartedly, then anything is achievable. There is always a way that you’re meant to do things but I’m trying to break that. In a game like this it is hard and I’m a people person, I love people so it’s hard to realise I’ve got to be a bit more selfish.
I wear my heart on my sleeve more than a little bit. The sport has given me all my life values – how to treat other people and valuing myself. Boxing is where you can find out who someone truly is, once you get between the ropes there is no hiding. Because I know who I am there can be no hiding.”
Content within himself (something we can all aspire to be one day) the next stage for the middleweight is to influence those around him. As a teenager the death of his great-grandmother meant that, as he put it, he had to grow up fast but he doesn’t forget where he came from. Now with a platform that he can use to push for change, Tashan is taking the fight to the stereotype of urban oppression.
A simple ‘hello’ can change someone’s day
“I have a business, with two partners, Phenomenal Fitness C.I.C. We are a community interest company so we work in areas where there are a lot of ethnic minorities, a lot of crime, drugs, that sort of thing to deliver free fitness classes to the community. We show them about health and wellbeing, put on sessions and show them something positive.
Giving back to the community means a lot to me because growing up there wasn’t enough for the community, hence why a lot of people get into trouble. It’s just showing people love, a simple ‘hello’ can change someone’s day and you wouldn’t even know it.”
Away from his day job in which he combines being a personal trainer with his community work, Dwyer unwinds by watching Marvel. I caught up him as he was in the run of watching a series of films back-to-back. As someone who has only ever watched Captain America, Tashan was kind enough to explain the difference between Marvel and DC to me. His favourite superhero, in case you were wondering, is The Hulk.
We ended our conversation by discussing Dwyer’s ambition to, in true Mark Ruffalo fashion, smash his way through the pre-conceived limits of his ability.
“I’m simple but I’m complicated at the same time, I know there’s a lot of politics in the pro game so it might be harder to get things flowing. I’m willing to fight on any show, against any fighter, and people will know my name.
This year is a real building year for me; I’m training with Matthew Hirst who used to be in the Army and putting myself out there for opportunities. I’ll be going for that Southern Area title next year, I’m going to be positioning myself for that. Hopefully we’ll get that opportunity and then go from there. World champion and nothing less, Ollie, that’s when we stop.”
Tashan Dwyer will return to the ring on May 4th, at York Hall, as part of a Mickey Helliet card. Tickets can be purchased from the boxer directly.