By: Hans Themistode
What is the typical story of a boxer?
A young troubled child gets into constant fights in the street and inside of the classroom. They are then introduced to the sport of boxing and their entire life is turned around. From there, they take the fighting scene by storm and go on to become a champion.
That’s how it usually goes.
Yet for professional boxer Fred Julan, his path to boxing was a different one entirely.
Forget about watching boxing on television, Julan had no idea that the sport even existed.
“I never even heard of boxing before,” said Julan. “In France it’s really only about Soccer. I never used to watch boxing, so even when people would talk to me about boxers I had no idea who they were talking about.”
Things are a bit different once you become associated with other countries. Sports such as boxing aren’t nearly as main stream across the world when compared to America.
It was only by pure chance that this young boy from France came across a boxing ring.
“One of my best friends at the time, his brother in law was a coach and he told me to come check out the gym that he worked in. He suggested that I might like it. I was 16 at the time. It was a different experience for me but I really enjoyed it.”
It doesn’t come as a surprise to see that Julan liked what he saw once he stepped inside the ring. After all, he wasn’t exactly an innocent kid growing up in France.
“I fought a lot in the streets and I would watch a lot of Bruce Lee movies. I would try some of the moves on the people I would be fighting in the street. At one point I thought about getting involved in martial arts. That was my real passion, but it was too expensive. Boxing on the other hand was easy. If you want to fight then fight.”
Julan was correct in his first assumption. It is easy to get involved in boxing. Walk into the gym, put on a pair of gloves and step foot inside of the ring. That’s easy. The arduous part, is making sure you don’t get your butt kicked in the process. Needless to say, Julan failed at that.
“When I had my first sparring session I got my ass kicked. It was just really bad.”
That ass kicking for Julan was only the beginning. From there, things would only get worse.
“After training for a while, I had my first fight and lost. It wasn’t just a typical loss either. After the fight I fainted and ended up in the hospital. The reason was because I didn’t know anything about dieting. While I was cutting weight I had about 8 more pounds to lose so I began fasting for about a week. I pretty much only drank soup. I didn’t know that it was a bad idea. At the end of the fight, I fainted and ended up in the hospital. The doctor told me I didn’t have enough nutrients in my body and I was very close to dying.”
With such a traumatic experience, no one would blame Julan if he decided that this was not the path that he wanted to go upon.
Let’s be honest here. For just about anyone else, they would have walked away. A near death experience on your first day on the job? No thank you.
That would be the thought process of just about anyone. Yet, Julan isn’t just anyone. Not only did he go back to the drawing board to try again, but he also honed his craft to the point where he has become virtually unbeatable.
“I’ve never lost since my first amateur defeat. There were several tournaments such as the golden gloves and numerous others that I participated in but I won them all.”
This just doesn’t make any sense. How can someone go from the brink of death to virtually unbeatable?
To answer that question, you will have to take a long look at the life teachers he has been fortunate enough to have. That, coupled with his undeniable desire to have the sort of life that he has always wanted, helped fuel him.
“My first coach Malek Ikhenache instilled a lot of confidence and discipline in me. The coach that I have now, Simon Bakinde has continued to do the same. Without them I would not be here. My path in life was supposed to be completely different. I originally was supposed to be an Electro technician. I was working for a little while but there was just no way I could see myself doing it for my entire life. The reason why I chose to become an electrician is because that is what my father did, but I hated it. Working all the time outside, was not fun to me.”
It’s safe to say that Julan’s decision to become a boxer was a sagacious one. His love of boxing runs deep, but his love for the U.S. has become profound as well.
Julan didn’t just have enormous goals in his life, but he also had a plan to achieve them as well.
“Boxing was something that I wanted to take seriously when I was first introduced to it, but I knew that France would not be conducive to me reaching my goals. In 2010, my trainer Malek Ikhenache sent me to New York to train with his best friend, my trainer now. Not only did I get the chance to see how it was to live as a boxer but I also explored the city and loved it. Once I came back to France I began to save money and in 2012, I made the move to New York when I was 24 years old.”
As previously mentioned, Julan has always had a plan. That notion has since continued as he maps out his professional career. As it currently stands, Julan is undefeated with a record of 12 wins and no defeats with 10 of those victories coming via knockout. He will look to continue his winning ways this Saturday night when he takes on Victor Darocha at Madison Square Garden, in New York City.
“I watched one of Victor Darocha’s fights but I don’t really want to watch fighters because you can overthink it. I’m a very versatile fighter so I can adapt to any fighter that is placed in front of me. If everything goes well, I should be able to get the knockout”
If Julan can continue his winning ways, he will soon approach his ultimate goal.
“The WBC and IBF titles. Those are the belts that I want the most. If I can win them and defend them several times then I can walk away from the sport with nothing left to prove. I still have a long way to go, but I believe I will get there one day.”