On July 29th, 2018, one of Korea's biggest boxing event will take place in Seoul. The WBA Asia Welterweight championship, KBM Lightweight championship, and KBM Middleweight championship titles are on the line. The Lightweight Champion was to be decided through a knock-out tournament, starting a preliminary round of 32, and the main tournament starting with the remaining 16 best lightweight boxers in Korea. The boxers that made it to the finals are Tae Seung Kim and O Gon Kwon. I had the opportunity to have a short interview with the two lightweight finalists fighting for the belt, and $26,560 prize money.
Tae Seung Kim is a veteran boxer and is fighting for the KBM Lightweight Championship at 43 years old this coming Sunday, against a much younger opponent, O Gon Kwon. Kim is known for his knock out power and is highly respected among other boxers for his tenacity, fighting much younger opponents through injuries, while working a regular day job to support his wife and two children. This is likely his retirement fight. http://boxrec.com/en/boxer/530695
Q-Kwon has shown excellent pace and impressive endurance throughout the tournament, but this will be his first time fighting a bout set for 10 rounds, let alone for the championship. In contrast, you are a veteran with several title defenses that were set for 10 rounds. Controlling the pace and having that championship experience is a huge factor. What do you think about Kwon’s stamina, and how much do you think your experience will play a part in the 10 round bout?
A-I don’t think Kwon will have endurance problems going the full ten rounds. He seemed to be in great shape and had no issues going 6 rounds in the semi-finals. Many believe rounds 6 and 7 are the toughest and the remaining rounds depends on mental strength. It really depends on how well he has prepared. Yes, I have had several title matches but did not ever go the full 10 rounds. I can’t exactly claim I experienced the full 10 rounds, but through my preparation and training, I believe I can overcome any endurance issues. Hard work never betrayed anyone, so I might have a small disadvantage due to my work schedule. I work a full time job and cannot train as much as I want to; training with the limited time after work is a vicious cycle that makes recovery difficult. However, I am confident that my mental strength is superior than that of Kwon’s. Guess there is only one way to find out haha.
Q-The prize money for this bout is $30,000 (rounded for convenience). Have you thought about what you are going to do with that money?
A-Well, I got a call from KBM recently telling me that I have to pay 22% in tax. It’s prize money, not fight money, so I am a bit skeptical haha. I have to pay my manager 30% my trainer 10%, which leaves me about $14,400, not as much as it’s supposed to be haha. There are plenty of things I want to do, but most importantly, I want to give my daughter braces before she enters college, but I got a quote for about $10,000 for the dental work…. :( My brother-in-law is the dentist, why is it so expensive? Should I find another dentist? Haha just kidding. That leaves me about $4,400. I want to take out everyone in my gym to dinner and I promised to treat Won Woo Min out (current WBA Asia Super Lightweight Champion).... So that makes my plans for travel a bit difficult hahaha. Anyway those are my plans for now haha.
Q-Almost all of the other Korean boxers respect you and so many fans are rooting for you. Can you say something for your fans?
A-Really? Do I have a lot of fans? Well I want to tell my fellow boxers that I started boxing at a very difficult time in my life, and I worry about my continuous physical injuries, and I know there will be health related consequences. But, I met some of the greatest people through boxing, who have helped me tremendously in life. Some even directly helped my business. The amount of love that the people I met through boxing has given me is something I will never forget and brings me great joy. What I want to say to all the boxers out there, there is nothing more important than perpetually fighting with yourself. If you fail, get up again and fight to give it your all. At some point, you will find a dignified version of yourself in all aspects. To all the younger boxing fans, you don’t have to be the best. If you give it your all, you won’t be afraid of this harsh world. Let’s keep challenging ourselves. Fighting! This is what I want to all boxing fans haha but I’m a bit embarrassed, not sure if I have the right to say such a thing hahaha.
Q-Do you have anything you want to say to Kwon?
A-More than anything, I really want to entertain the fans. Kwon has a very entertaining style, all of his matches are very fun to watch. Regardless of the outcome, I hope Kwon brings his usual entertaining style to the fight. [Without thinking about the obligatory “respect” due to age difference]
O Gon Kwon is 23 year old boxer with amateur experience and is fighting for the KBM lightweight championship against veteran boxer, Tae Seung Kim. He’s known for his quick footwork, hand speed, and very entertaining flashy style, with just enough showmanship to rub people, including the judges, the wrong way. Fans either hate him or love him. But everyone agrees that he is an excellent boxer. http://boxrec.com/en/boxer/749432
Q-You have shown outstanding endurance at a high pace in all your professional matches thus far. However, this will be your first 10 round fight, as well as your first title match. Your next opponent, Kim, is an experienced veteran boxer with multiple championship fights under his belt. How do you feel about your endurance, considering your longest fight was 6 rounds? Are there any significant changes in your training and preparation?
A-I’ve been training just like I have before. As for my endurance, I’ve never went 10 rounds so I’m not certain either.
Q-The prize money is $30,000. What do you plan to do with it?
A-After taxes and all that, I don’t think there will be too much left, but I plan to treat out my friends and give the rest to father.
Q-Kim stated that you always have a very flashy, entertaining style and wants you to bring that type of fight to him as well. Your response?
A-Of course I’d like to have an entertaining fight as well. Oh, and especially considering our age difference, if I fight like I usually do, fans are going to think I’m disrespectful and arrogant. I even thought of fighting more well-mannered and cut down on the showmanship, but I decided to fight the way I usually do. I’m not disrespecting my opponents or anything like that, it’s just my style. I hope people don’t take it the wrong way.
Q-You are one of the most popular boxers in Korea. Can you please say something for your fans?
A-I actually don’t think I have many fans, but since you asked, I’m a bit embarrassed hahaha. Anyway, it’s not like I’m some extraordinary boxer or anything so I want to thank everyone that’s rooting for me and am extremely grateful. I’m going to win this match for sure :)
Originally published - https://jjsjj.blubrry.net/2018/07/24/kbm-lw-kim-vs-kwon/
A huge thanks goes to TheFightPod for this dual interview!
When we have some free time we're hoping to add a series of fun articles to the site. Hopefully these will be enjoyable little short features