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Thomas Oosthuizen: “I will take an ugly win over a pretty loss any day.”

By Anson Wainwright

A few weeks back, South African Thomas Oosthuizen,16-0-1 (11), travelled over from his home in South Africa to make his American debut as chief support to the Andre Berto-Jan Zaveck fight in Biloxi, MS. He fought the son of legend Aaron Pryor, Aaron Jr., proving a successful trip as he won a wide decision in an action-packed fight in which Oosthuizen was cut. Though it’s early days for the 23-year-old, he hopes to continue his rise through the talent-laden super middleweight division where he’s already ranked by the WBC and The Ring magazine and is expected to likely replace Pryor in the IBF’s rankings. Despite his 6’ 4” frame and southpaw stance, "Tommy Gun" doesn’t fight from the outside. Oosthuizen likes to get inside and mix it up, making him a welcome new addition to the 168-pound ranks.

Anson Wainwright - You made your American debut beating Aaron Pryor Jr. What are your thoughts on him and this fight? How happy were you with your performance? Can you tell us about your American experience, how you were treated and what you thought of the whole occasion?
Thomas Oosthuizen - To begin, my thoughts on Aaron Pryor Jr. He was a good opponent and he really showed a lot of heart. Making my [American] debut, I went there with a goal: to show the world that I’m a real champion. I’m happy to have done so well as I have. I still need to do better and progress more and more. It was great being in America. Everybody was so friendly and I was treated so well. At the beginning of my fight, the American crowd was more fond of their fellow American Pryor but after the fight, the American fans were as fond of me as well.

AW - It’s early days but what are you personally looking to do next? Who would you like to fight?  
TO - I would like to fight anybody I can. My goal is to become a true champion, to show people I’m a real boxer and the best in the world.
AW - Back in June, you fought William Gare. What can you tell us about that fight? How happy were you with your performance? I believe you received some criticism from that fight, so what are your comments on that? 
TO - The Gare fight, I was glad but not happy. It went the distance but I didn’t give a great performance. I wasn’t satisfied with my performance and I knew I had to do better but a win is a win. I will take an ugly win over a pretty loss any day. It is easy for people to criticize who hasn’t been there and do what we do. I criticize myself as well, that I can know what I need to fix and where to improve.
AW - Could you tell us about your team? Also where do you train? What other fighters do you train with?
TO - My promoter is Rodney Berman, owner of Golden Gloves. My trainer and manager is world champion Harold Volbrecht and second in the corner is the Hall-of-Famer Brian Mitchell.  
I gym at The Hammer Gym in Johannesburg and I spar against guys like Zack Mwekassa (a cruiserweight who’s10-2 (9)), Johnny Muller (a light heavyweight who’s 9-1-2 (7)) and Flo Simba (a heavyweight who’s 11-1(10)).
AW - Have you sparred with many top fighters? If so, could you tell us who and how you felt the sparring went?
TO - Yes, I have sparred with a lot of good fighters and every style is different. That’s the way you learn. To spar with fighters that have more experience, you learn to box and those with less experience, you show them who’s the boss.
AW - Could you tell us about a typical week of training for you? 
TO - On an average week, I would run 10 kilometres every morning. Then in the afternoon, I would spend two hours in the gym doing a minimum of eight rounds sparring every day, six rounds on the bags, weights and also cardio. Making the weight for me is luckily not a problem because I eat right and I eat three times a day.
AW - Could you tell us about your style of fighting? What are your strengths and what are you looking to improve as you progress?
TO - My strengths are my speed, power and durability. I can take as well as what I give. I train hard and push myself in training because then I know I’ll be at my peak in the fight. My style is that I can do both. I can go forward and fight on either the front or back foot.
AW - When you were growing up in South Africa, the country had been going through many changes. Could you tell us what it was like growing up there and how you managed?
TO - I grew up as a normal kid. The changes that happened in South Africa never affected my life in any drastic way. I grew up with boxing and have been boxing since the age of six. My dad was a junior middleweight champion and South African champion and he was the one who told me to always stay humble and work hard.
AW - Late last year, you fought your stablemate Isaac Chilemba, to a draw. How do you see that fight, looking back? Do you think a draw was a fair result?
TO - I do believe that in boxing, the guy who lands the most clean punches should win and I believe I did in the Chilemba fight but that fight was my worst fight- amateur and professional- and that was Isaac’s best fight of his career. I wanted a rematch because I wasn’t satisfied with a draw but they declined.
AW - Could you tell us about yourself as a person? What do you like to do in your spare time? What are your hobbies and interests?
TO - In my spare time, I relax and like to play touch rugby as well as spend a lot of time with my girlfriend. Weekends, I will go to church and youth [group] at Freeway Bible Church.
AW - What are your goals in boxing? Who were your heroes growing up?
TO - My goal is to fight to the best of my ability and progress as far as I possibly can. My heroes are Sugar Ray Robinson, Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler, Tommy Hearns, Roberto Duran and, of course, my dad.
AW – Finally, do you have a message for the super middleweight division?
TO – Yes, I do have a message: Hello, everybody, and I’m “Tommy Gun”!


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