Portrait of a Great Champion
Interview with Alex Tui - 2004
Part 4

Alex Tui and Father Dave

click here for part 1 of this interview
click here for part 2 of this interview
click here for part 3 of this interview

This month we squeeze the great ring-mater for his secret techniques. What was Alex Tui's 'secret weapon' that led him all the way to the world title?

Well, as most fighters would guess, there is no secret weapon. In fighting, as in all of life, there aren't any real shortcuts to success, just focused application and lots of honest sweat. Of course, having a great trainer and a good support team does help.

Dave: Let's just think in terms of technique. You mentioned before that you had a particular trainer who was very helpful for you. Who have been your key trainers … Chuck Fei you mentioned?


Alex: Sure…actually I've been lucky through my fight training that I've had good trainers, who were not just good trainers but they were also helpful to me, you know, in a lot of ways. Often I'd come across and my training fees were a bit short and they would help me along a little bit. There was Chan Chuck Fei, there was Kum San Doy in Cabramatta.


Dave: He's still in the game, isn't he, Kum San?


Alex: Yeah…he's got Mark Hunt training with him now. There was Kum San and through Kum San they brought in Sachad and Sak Sakon … and they were a big influence on my training. In boxing I started at the Ernie McQuillan gym. I heard it was a famous, pretty well known gym, but actually there were no trainers!


Dave: Sorry?


Alex: There were no trainers. You had to come and put your bag up and then jump in the ring and have a spar. But there were a couple of boxers there that helped me out … and later on, when I moved over here [to the Mundine Gym], I trained with Keith Saunders and also Alan Hedger.


Dave: In terms of the technical aspects, do you think there's anything in particular that you learnt from these men, that became the key for your own fighting success?


Alex: To be honest, with my success, with my training, the key benefits I got from training with my boxing trainer, Alan Hedger, was actually the way he helped to prepare me mentally. It wasn't so much…


Dave: It wasn't so much a physical thing?


Alex: Well, he did push me physically! He did get me fit


Dave: Was there anything though from a technical end, in terms of good form - things that you found that were really key things that became 'secret weapons' for you? You know - you turn your hip this way or use your leg that way or a particular combination … anything like that?


Alex: Anything particular? Well, it's very basic. … It's basically just working through your legs. You know, you work on driving from your legs to do your punching.


Dave: Yes, that's the sort of thing I'm thinking of. So it's basically just 'keeping your feet planted on the floor and using your legs'?

Alex: Yeah! I'm just beginning to teach. Teaching has taught me a lot, because I've been forced to look at how I'm going to explain something to a beginner. So I sort of looked at it and I thought 'if I was fighting and I had this, or if I was thinking like this …', you know? I didn't have time for that when I was fighting. I let my trainer do all the thinking for me, but it makes sense to me now and hopefully it gets my students starting off at a different level to what I did.


Dave: And that's about basics like good balance?


Alex: Yeah! Good balance and using your upper body movement, driving from the ground - you know, driving from the ground.


Dave: What you are saying is similar to when I talked to Kon. Be it wrestling, be it boxing, whatever, it's the basic things that are important, not the frilly things


Alex: Oh, I drill the basics! Yeah, I drill the basics! And for me this actually works a lot better with people that haven't done anything before.


Dave: They don't have to unlearn something?


Alex: It's very difficult for somebody who started learning somewhere else and then comes in with me, as you probably have seen for yourself.


Dave: In terms of these basics, what would you say that they are: ground yourself well on the floor, use your legs?


Alex: When I'm holding pads I cover the basics. Good form, good accuracy good timing. That's the first lesson. Speed and power later…speed and power later…


Dave: So good form means what…well based on the floor?


Alex: Yes. Good form is balance. You build a good balanced fighting stance for a start.


I call that 'neutral stance'. Whether you're punching or kicking, you always begin from neutral and you come back to neutral. From neutral you chose whether you attack or whether you defend. Either way, you begin at neutral and finish at neutral.


Dave: By neutral you mean this basic defensive position?


Alex: Yep, your basic defensive position.


Dave: Solid balance!


Alex: Yeah! From 'neutral' your guard is up, your balance is there, you're seeing things clearly (or as clearly as you can).

Next month: We conclude our interview with World Champion, Alex Tui

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Alex Tui - the Tongan Tornado