OTHER: Billy ‘The Kid’ Dib
Featured in Freestyle Volume 04 2008. Interview by Cristian Diaz. Photography by Phil Cooper.
“Positive/investment”, those are the two words that subliminally KO the cranium when meeting Billy Dib or “Billy the Kid” as his more familiar alias, for the first time. The positive “kid”, no pun intended, is a human juxtapose of youthful energy and deadly skills that is all some how contained by a charmful maturity and confidence that seems to lack in today’s Australian boxing scene. The investment? For a nation of deprived boxing purists that will one day witness a word-class champion that may be this countries greatest ever. Who says so? Try two living legends of the boxing world, Oscar Del La Hoya and Shane Mosley who immediately signed up the South-West Sydney kid to their exclusive Golden Boy Academy moments after watching his DVD.
Well first of all congrats on your latest victory, you’re on a 17-0 undefeated record and I’m sure everyone wants to know how it all started for you with the sport of boxing? Tell me it wasn’t just Rocky movies.
Ha yeah you could say it was the Rocky movies, but really I can just remember putting the gloves on as a kid and fighting with my brother all the time. I think at the age of around 11/12 I asked my father if I could box. He wasn’t really keen on it but he sent me down to the PCYC and there I would put my $1 in the tin and just get into the lessons, that’s where it all started and just basically became a dream from there.
So there wasn’t any inspiration from watching an older brother or other family member box?
None of my family members are actual athletes, I mean they play their Rugby League but they are all working class people, so I’m really the only athlete in the whole Dib family.
Did you always have the same dream of becoming a pro boxer?
I actually wanted to become a basketball player, but I didn’t think that would ever happen because I’m too short. But its funny you ask that because I was talking to my Aunty about it the other day and she tells me when I was around 5/6 years old my eyes were glued to any kind of boxing tape. If Jeff Fenech or Muhammad Ali came on the TV nothing really could stop me from looking at it. So I think the minute I walked into the gym I just knew it was what I wanted to do. I would just envision Muhammad Ali and Prince Naseem and just think I really want to be like these guys.
Speaking of Naseem, there’s a general consensus in the boxing world and I would also agree just from viewing some of your mix tapes, that you’ve styled your boxing to that of the Great Prince Naseem, is this true?
Yeah, the first time I saw Prince Naseem I was like “man I want to be like this guy” but I realised that Naseem’s style is very electrifying and flamboyant so a lot of people really disliked this, but what I’ve tried to do is steal some thing here and there from other fighter’s styles. Naseem is the person that has driven me to become what I am today. I would just watch his tapes over and over again, so when I wrote him a letter telling him I knew every thing about his style he was amazed and he invited me to live with him in London where he taught me almost every thing he knew and we became good friends.
Living and training with Naseem! That’s crazy, but through out his career he was always heavily criticised for never putting his guard up and show boating in front of his opponent. Have you also incorporated these techniques?
Naseem’s style was very dangerous, my style is still dangerous but with Naseem if he got hit he would never start to put his guard up. With me if I get hit I know to put my hands up and work this guy out a little more, so I look at myself as being more defensive. This is where incorporating other boxer’s styles like Floyd Mayweather, Roy Jones Jr. and Oscar De La Hoya has helped.
If you could go back in time would you fight the man that eventually dethroned the Prince, Marco Antonio Barrera?
Definitely, I’d do it for Nas.
Now most people will never even get to meet the great Prince Naseem, let alone train and live with him. This would have already been a dream come true but then you go over to the States to become sparing buddies with one of the greatest of all-time Mr Shane Mosley, how the hell did that happen?
We have a mutual friend in Las Vegas that I showed a DVD of me boxing. He then called Shane and sent him a copy. The next thing I know I had an invitation to go and stay with Shane. He loved my style and asked me if I was interested in getting signed up by Golden Boy, so I agreed and now Shane is like family. He trains and pushes me hard to become the best boxer I can be.
Did you shit your self the first time you got in the ring with him?
When I first got to the gym he asked me if I wanted to spar and I was just thinking, oh man! I’d remember watching his first fight with Oscar De La Hoya and thought this guy is just way too fast, so when I got in the ring with him I really froze up and thought “I’m in here with a legend”, but then he started talking me through it and after about 2 rounds we started to get more down and dirty. But now it’s actually really competitive between us and we really go at it.
Have you ever been in the ring with De La Hoya?
Out of Mosley and De La Hoya, which one would you not like to meet in the ring for a professional bout?
Your undefeated record is impressive, what’s been your hardest fight to date?
It would have to be my 16th fight against Jose Gonzales. It was just one of those off-nights where I suffered the first nose bleed in my career so I couldn’t breathe properly and I really had to battle through it. Jose was actually a former world champion so he definitely pushed me all the way. It was a real devastating battle that I won in the end but I just remember after the fight being in such pain and feeling like I wanted to vomit.
Boxing has always had a negative stigma with opponents battling egos and having bad blood towards each other but I’ve noticed you’ve always got this positive outlook with your attitude and respect towards your opponents. Are you trying some reverse psychology, cause I think it pisses them off even more?
I definitely have respect for them because boxing is a hard sport as its just one-on-one combat, but my opponent has family, friends and of course feelings so although in the heat of the moment you may say something bad or end up hurting him, in some way you are going to feel bad. So I’ll give him respect before and after the fight but when I’m in the ring I refuse to lose, I don’t care who it is, I’m going to take his head off.
Well said, so what do you want to ultimately achieve in this sport?
My dream is to become a 5-time world champion. The reason I say this is because I’m only 22 years old right now and I’m fighting at feather-weight and I’m still growing, so then at age 25 maybe fight at light-weight, 27 maybe light-welter and then welterweight, so that’s five divisions that Shane Moseley and my team are confident I can achieve.
Anthony Mundine, your views?
Mundine is a superstar in my eyes. He is one of the most skilful people I know, a guy that can play basketball, play football and still be a great boxer.
What inspires you?
I’m really into autobiographies and reading about people who are strong figures. I’m also inspired by people who are great at what they do especially in the sporting field. When I see someone who's great at their sport, it inspires me to be greater at mine. A guy like Tiger Woods in a boring sport like golf and the way he dominates is completely inspiring.
Freestyle magazine has different influential themes such as tatts and clothing, are you into any of these?
I don’t have any tatts and I’m not into them but I do enjoy clothing and modelling. I’ve actually got a label coming out soon, called BTK clothing.
What about Cars? What’s your ultimate ride?
I’m into more prestige cars, like Ferrari or Mercedes. I’m not really into big cars like Hummers, for me its more luxury and prestige. I’m really feeling the BMW 650.
And lastly, what is your advice to kids who are young aspiring boxers?
My advice to kids out there who are looking to get into the sport is that honestly it’s probably the hardest sport in the world. I mean you’re constantly getting punched in the face and there’s a lot of pain behind it, but if you do decide to go for it then I’ve got a simple rule. For me its like an exam, if you go into an exam and you haven’t studied, you feel nervous like your going to fail, but if you’ve studied for the exam you feel confident. You overcome the nerves and pass the test and that’s the same with boxing, so if you want to become a champion you have to work hard and put in the hard yards in order to get there.
To find out more about Billy the kid, visit www.billythekid.com.au
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