Portrait of a Great Champion
Interview with Alex Tui - 2004
Part 5

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
click here for part 4 of this interview

Curiously, in this, the last part of our inteview with Australia's first world kickboxing champion, Alex gets a little lost for words.  He starts off talking about the importance to him of his boxing trainer, Alan Hedger, and then I get things off track by trying to squeeze Alex for any secret techniques that Hedger passed on to him.  It turns out that what worked so well for Alex with Alan Hedger was not any technique he taught, but the fact that the two developed a real relationship of trust! 

Dave: You said the most important things your trainer taught you were the mental things…

Alex: Yeah! I mean, I suppose everybody’s gonna be different, but with Alan it was more casual. When I say mental things, he just put me at ease, you know? He used humour. But at the same time, when he wanted to make a point of something important, he’d be serious and you could see the change...

Dave: How did that affect you in your own mental preparation?

Alex: Oh well, I mean for me, I suppose I had never had a trainer who had that affect on me before.

Dave: It helped you to focus?

Alex: Yeah. It helped me to focus. He actually taught me how take it seriously. He taught me how important it was to be serious about fighting!

Dave: What do you mean by that? Obviously you always take it seriously on one level?.

Alex: Yeah sure, but I suppose in some ways he made me look at my training in a different way.

Dave: Can you articulate how that was?

Alex: [Laughs] No!

Dave: But do you try and pass this onto your students too?

Alex: I do

Dave: Can you put your finger then on what it is your trying to teach them?

Alex: That’s a hard one. I haven’t really ever articulated it before. It’s a good thing you’ve brought it up, because I’ve focused a lot on the technical side.

Dave: Yet you were saying yourself that actually the most important thing is this mental and the spiritual and emotional side

Alex: Yeah! And I feel that I do try to support them every training session. I think it's actually just getting your students to trust you a bit more. I think that’s very important. It's getting their trust, and this is probably related to why you get on and you do better with fighters that haven’t been with anyone else as well, because they show you a lot more trust and openness and your instruction is what they actually follow.

Dave: So the fighter-trainer relationship itself is the key thing?

Alex: Yeah I think that is the key thing, and although I have trained with other people before I personally…

Dave: Do you feel a special debt towards this man?

Alex: Yeah, I personally liked Alan. And so I put my trust in him and I suppose that’s what also gave me the feeling to trust to…listen… I haven’t really thought of it in that way before, but I think that trust needs to be there - that special trust where the fighter can really believe in what you're trying to tell him, can have faith in what you're telling him!

Dave: The man in the corner…Absolutely!

So we’ve come up with 3 things: there’s the physical fitness, mental focus, and having a relationship of trust with the man in your corner. They would be the three things, and are you now saying that of those three, the most important thing for you as a fighter is that relationship with your corner man?

Alex: Yes. I think that's right. I mean obviously there's got to be a combination of these things…

Dave: Sure, sure. But you started by putting emphasis on the physical training, but now you're saying that what is most important to you as a fighter is not just physical and not just about your fitness or technique…

Alex: It's about going out there with confidence.You have confidence in your fitness, confidence in your focus, and there’s confidence in what you’ve got to back yourself up with when things go wrong ...which you always have to be prepared for.

Dave: And also confidence in the guy in your corner!

Alex: Oh for sure! He’s like the wraps you put on. He’s your partner.  He’s gonna be there when you need a drink of water. He’s like that bottle of water that you need, just to quench your thirst at the end of the round.

Next month: We interview with another great World Champion, Mr Michael Spinks

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Alex Tui - the Tongan Tornado