Boxing more so than perhaps any other sport, Is one filled with hard luck stories in a constant battle for survival from the tough streets from which he/she came, Luis Collazo’s story is much the same in that regard.
Often the case with inner-city kids, Collazo influenced by his older brother could have easily been a person lost in society, led down a path of drug dealing, Jail or as so often the case, death.
Even later in life, his mortality was tested, his life seemingly spiralling out of control he found solace in God, eventually knocking back the notion of a premature end.
The decision was one that bore fruit, looking back over a career that at the time of writing as spanned 44 contests sporting a world title and having fought at some of boxing’s biggest events.
It’s a far cry from the hand he was dealt initially, but it served to mould the man he is today, an approachable, hard-working family man who Michael Shepherd recently had the pleasure of putting his questions to:
How did you start boxing and what age did you start going to a gym?
My dad was a big fanatic of the sport, so one day He decided to take me and my best friend at the time. Then he later went to the military and I kept going. Started when I was 9 and first competition was at 10
Could you give the readers an Insight into turbulent young life as a child?
As a kid, I was the youngest of two boys everything was normal until I was around 7ish my parents started having marriage issues. My parents got divorced when I was eight, that was the worst thing that could have happened to me at that time. I thought I started getting rebellious and started acting out. It went on for about 2 years I started looking up to my older brother, which at the time he was a drug dealer. So I started selling drugs and smoking weed at 9 years of age. I was going nowhere fast.
For our readers that don’t know what was your record as an amateur?
As an amateur, I was 97-7
Were there any occasions during your time on the amateurs that made a significant impact on you?
Well in the year 2000 I went to the eastern trials I won it. Then I went to the box-offs in Florida I won my first two fights. But then my third bout I jammed my thumb so bad. I not only lost but didn’t past my physical for the first fight in the losers bracket. But that’s when I realized I can do something. I didn’t have power but my boxing abilities awesome.
As an amateur was it always your dream to turn professional?
I really didn’t think about turning pro at no point. I was doing it because I got to travel for and meet people from different states. I found it pretty cool.
Was it tough to turn full time? Finding time between work, paying the bills etc
A fighter once told me to try to make a statement in boxing before you start a family and he was right lol but I didn’t listen. So the hardest part for me was leaving to camp and not able to see my family for a long period of time. That was the hardest thing to deal with.
What would you say are the major differences between amateur and professional boxing? And did you have to change the way you trained when you turned professional?
The biggest transition I think is no headgear and smaller gloves. But at the same time, it was good not wearing a headgear because I could see better. My style remained the same because I was a boxer not really a slugger I would say. I wasn’t a big puncher
Any fighters from past and present that inspire you, if so who and why?
I would say, Hagler and Tito Trinidad. Hagler’s style was something I loved studying, his aggressiveness and being able to not really get hit flush while being right in your face. Then Trinidad when I met him, he was one of the coolest guys I ever met in my life. The way he treated his fans, it truly inspired me and I was like I want to be like him when I get older. He was awesome…
What ranks as your proudest moment in the sport?
My proudest moment I would say winning the world title. I was a last-minute replacement on 2 weeks’ notice here I am in the gym they called and asked would you like to fight for a world title, I was like are you kidding me heck yea when and where. Then the reply was it’s in 2 weeks in his hometown. Me being 24 from Brooklyn I said let’s go, I’m all in and me and my team went took care of business in front of over 6k fans booing me but I didn’t care. That was the biggest day of my life as a professional in any sport your dream is to compete for a world championship, not too many fighters get to accomplish that. I wasn’t supposed to win but hey it’s nothing new. I was an underdog then and I remain an underdog now. I love it, I’m a competitive person. I have been through a lot in boxing but I wouldn’t change it for nothing in the world.
In the professional ranks, you have faced a who’s who of opponents (Mosley, Berto, Ortiz, Khan, Hatton, Thurman) who has been your hardest opponent so far and why?
Oh man, they were all tough in their own right. Some fights I had time to train some fights I didn’t, some I didn’t train the way I was supposed to but hey I lived and I learned the hard way.
Several years ago you had a prolonged absence from the ring and overcame alcohol addiction and even thought about committing suicide?
Yes, I was truly in the darkest place in my life. I couldn’t understand it, I had everything the world can offer but yet I was Still empty and depressed. So I started partying more drinking, smoking weed taking ecstasy pills. I was pulling always from everything that matter to me, my kids my wife and the thing that I grew to love boxing and thought of taking my life several times. It was one of the worst feelings anyone can feel. One night I couldn’t take it anymore and I cried out to God and asked Him, God, if you can change my life, I will give my life to You and the following day I truly woke up a different person. It was like God delivered and heard my cry so now it was my turn to deliver and here I am 4 years later still having an intimate relationship with God. I wouldn’t change it for nothing in the world.
What are your hopes for the rest of 2017 & 2018?
Man well, 2017 is almost done I’m still recovering from a ruptured bicep tendon, still rehabbing it. So 2018 is the year to come back strong and make some noise. I still got a lot in the tank so I’m eager to get back in the ring but want to be 110 % before I do so.
If you could talk to a young Luis Collazo what would you say to him?
Oh man, follow your heart don’t only dream, live it out. I truly believe we all have a warrior in us, a lot of times people paralyze your goals or dream by saying you can’t do this or that. It’s a lie we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. As long they believe in themselves it doesn’t matter who doesn’t or does believe. Belief starts with oneself. Shoot for the heavens.
Who is Luis Collazo outside of boxing?
I’m a low key individual I speak to everyone that I come across. I am no better than anyone, I try to shed light where ever I go. I got to remain humble and grounded, I know where I came from and at any moment I can go back. I treat others like I will like to be treated in return
Any plans for after boxing?
Plans after boxing work with kids and encourage them to stay out of the streets and try to guide them to go the right path and finish school.
Final words or closing statements?
I want to thank everyone from the bottom of my heart for their love and support through the years. I’m forever grateful I wouldn’t be where I’m at today without them coming out and supporting the game of boxing. Blessings Always to all God’s Way