Carl Froch on boxing, love and coping with fame

This is May, 2009

He's Nottingham's hardest man in the ring, but in Carl Froch's personal life it's relatives, friends and girlfriend Rachael who are number one. JO ROBERTS met him

BOXER Carl Froch has long enjoyed celebrity in his native Gedling and in city boxing circles - but his national profile rocketed when he became WBC Super Middleweight champion in December 2008.

Last month, the 31-year-old secured international star status when he successfully fought off American challenger Jermain Taylor at the MGM Grand in Connecticut.

He even had a model Wag on his arm - Miss Maxim 2008, Rachael Cordingley - to complete the sporting superstar image.

But now the hoopla has died down and he's back on home

Carl, how are you coping with the attention since your return?

"I can't go shopping any more - I get harassed! I'm almost becoming a household name - if you ask your next-door neighbour who Carl Froch is, they might know, now. I get spotted, even down in London.

"In Gedling and Carlton I get the odd wave and horn sounded, but it seems wherever I go now I'll be approached for an autograph and a photograph. It's nice that the fans care."

What do you put your widespread popularity down to?

"I'm very down-to-earth. I've been very grounded since I was an amateur, and then turning pro - I'm not too big for my boots.

"I don't give it 'the big one'; if people want an autograph or a photograph I'm here to accommodate them. If you're the people's champion, it helps matters."

It's rumoured you're not a traditional boxing fan yourself - is that true?

"Not in terms of boxing fans who know every boxer in every weight division and every champion. That's not me.

"I watch my own weight division, but other than that I'm not a mad boxing fanatic. It's only the top, world-level fights that I watch."

In that case, what led you to boxing in the first place?

"In my dad's garage there was a bag hanging up. He used to give it a whack and I used to give it a whack, and he took me down to the gym when I was nine. It was the Phoenix ABC in Gedling. I just stuck with it because I was always pretty good at it."

How did your mum Carol Weatherbed react?

"She was protective, as mothers are, they don't want to see their kid get hit, but she's fine now.

"She's been to plenty of fights and has confidence in me. Last time I got put down for the first time in my career and she was a little bit worried, but I did the business so I'm sure she was all right."

Your mum said she was unhappy with the size of your changing room and the fit of your gloves at your most recent fight. Was she speaking for you?

"It happens all the time - you box on someone else's promotion on foreign soil, they're going to try to do everything they can to give their lad the advantages. I've got no complaints about it.

"My brother saw the gloves weren't fitting right and needed to be re-done, but they were rushing me to the ring. I was in a small changing room - you couldn't swing a cat in there.

"But it's all part and parcel of not being the house fighter, they want to do everything they can to upset you and unsettle you.

"But once I get into the ring it's me and the opponent and the referee, and no one else can intervene then."

Your mum also denied you'd ever leave Nottingham. Is that true?

"I'd go exactly where the money is and where the TV demands. If my next fights were going to be in the States, then I'd set up camp there for eight or 12 weeks before each fight.

"I don't think I could live in America permanently, all my family and friends are in England - that's where I'm from. But to see the rest of my career out, if I needed to go out to America for every single fight then I would do.

"That's what's going to pay the bills - I can't stay in England if the TV aren't getting behind me.

"But the tide's turned now - that last fight's changed everything. The TV companies are kicking themselves. That's their loss."

Your girlfriend, Rachael Cordingley, was fairly high-profile out there with you. Did it help having her around?

"To be bluntly honest, not really, no. When I fight I don't need anybody with me apart from my trainer.

"It's nice of your family and friends to come and support you, but when it's fight time it's me, the opponent and the referee.

"That's the code of the warrior, though - something you probably wouldn't understand."

How did you meet Rachael, who is Miss Maxim UK?

"We met through a friend of mine in London, where Rachael lives. I do a lot of training and work down there. He thought we'd get on and he was right. We just clicked and we've become very close. She's a beautiful-looking girl, she's busy in her world and I'm busy in mine.

"Between work, we spend as much time together as we can. She got spotted at ringside shouting her mouth off and got a bit of TV coverage straight after the last fight, so I think it worked well for her as well."

You're also very close to your family, aren't you?

"Yeah: my two brothers, Wayne and Lee, my mum, Carol, my step-dad, Steve, and I have a couple of real close friends.

"They all come out to the fights, but it doesn't really affect me; I could go out there on my own and fight.

"It toughens you up and makes you who you are. It's great to have them around you after you've done the job though. Lee's getting married in Cuba in November."

What interest do you have outside boxing?

"I'm kept busy with property: I've got a decent property portfolio in Nottingham, and a place in London as well and stuff abroad. I've actually got to go and collect some rent this week.

"I play a bit of golf and tennis with my brothers, and I'm quite close to Michael Holt, a top snooker player from Nottingham, so I play quite a bit in my spare time.

"I can't play football any more and have to be careful with tennis in case of injuries."

Do you have any favourite hangouts in Nottingham?

"I can be spotted in Nando's quite regularly."

What are your ambitions now?

"Personally, I want to achieve financial stability and comfort, so I can look after myself and my family, and I'm getting closer and closer to that.

"Professionally, I am WBC champion, and there are two other champions in my weight division, the IBF and WBA champions Lucian Bute and Mikkel Kessler, respectively. I'm going to target them to become the undisputed champion.

" I'll have all three belts then in my division, and there'll be no one else in my weight that can say they're champion."

You're being made a Freeman of Gedling Borough - how does that feel?

"Great. I can walk my sheep and carry my sword over Mapperley Top or something - I'm not sure what it involves! Freedom of the City'll be next..."