“I am quite big on the mental side of life as I believe having a strong mindset is essential to achieving success.” – Faisal “Fayz” Masood
Faisal “Fayz” Masood is a fellow feature writer for the Ringside Report and has also written 3 of his own books on the subject of boxing. Masood is a personal trainer and boxing coach who left a career in IT to pursue his passions and teach people how to improve their lifestyle and to also teach people about the sweet science. This is my first time speaking with Faisal and after reading his blog and his work on RSR, I am looking forward to learning more about him!
TW: After I first applied to be a feature writer for RSR I checked out your profile and your own personal blog. I was surprised to see how similar we are in terms of our careers and attention to detail in regards to boxing when we teach our students/clients. So, I’m pretty chuffed I’ve been given the opportunity to ask you some questions and get to know you a bit more!
Yes, I noticed too we are quite similar, it was also very timely to be interviewing you because I can see from your site you have been through a lot so for me, going through some hard times, it was great to see someone fighting bigger battles than me and still coming through, it is very heartening. I wish you the best with your continued success!
TW: Thanks a lot Fayz. So, first things first, how old are you now and how long have you been a Personal Trainer and Boxing Coach for?
I turned 40 earlier in the year, I have been a personal trainer for 6yrs now, 4yrs teaching boxing. This is also my first year working full time as a boxing trainer as previously I was working in IT and doing the coaching over the weekends. Quite daunting to make a career change at pretty much 40yrs old and go through the ups and downs of running a business, especially the first year but its never too late to chase your dreams.
TW: As a Boxing Coach, what thing do you think is the most important lesson you can teach?
I think discipline and composure. Boxing isn’t a street fight, you have to check your ego at the door else you’re going to get hurt.
TW: Have you ever boxed competitively yourself? If you have, could you describe the experience? If not, then how come?
I was a late starter to boxing so I have only ever boxed white collar. I dabbled in Muay Thai and Roman Greco wrestling but it was always boxing I preferred. Before boxing I was playing county level cricket and then when the injury forced me to quit I turned to bodybuilding which eventually led me to personal training and then one thing led to another and it ended with boxing!
It’s always a good experience fighting, whether it is sparring or a bout, you can’t really beat the exhilaration of a good scrap.
I am not sure I will fight again, the back injury from the cricket only allows me so much sparring before I have to give it a few days to recover so my preparation is never ideal.
I have a 16yr old son who is an undefeated amateur boxer, he was tipped by his club to win the nationals this year and he is being predicted to have a bright future in the sport if he decides to stick with it, but unfortunately he injured his knee and has been out for some time.
I will probably spend part of summer helping him get ready for the start of the new boxing season. Not to mention a nephew who I helped train is also now amateur.
TW: What songs or type of music do you listen to in the gym when you’re training?
To be honest I don’t really mind what music is on, as long as it is good I will listen. I don’t particularly have any favorites.
TW: What does a typical day consist of for you?
Typically, I start my day with some form of exercise, whether that is weight training, running or boxing. No two days are the same as I am coaching my private clients so I might have some in the morning and then more in the evening.
In between all that I am helping out with my 3 children, working on my boxing business, writing and trying to spend time with my family. It is quite a physically exhausting job so I also like to get a nap in if I can and just have some ‘me’ time to switch off.
TW: Who is your biggest hero in life?
I suppose like many of you reading this it has to be the father. Mine lost his mother when he was one, his father mostly worked abroad or away from home so he was raised by his grandfather. My father was also a fighter and appeared in several movies.
Eventually he was forced to leave his homeland in his early 20’s and then his father died so he didn’t even get a chance to see or speak to him for months before finding out via a letter what had happened. He worked 7 days to support his 6 children and never did depend on anyone, even now at almost 80yrs of age he is still independent.
He is just a fearless person who never fails to help me put everything into perspective when I go through my own battles because he has been through so much more.
TW: Having read the previews to your books on Amazon, I’m impressed with your attention to detail. To you, how important is it to consistently drill boxing fundamentals?
Yes, the fundamentals are imperative. It is like bodybuilding, the basic compound movements build the foundation to a great physique. In boxing you need those fundamentals to build your game around. The jab, how to use it and counter it, defense, fitness.
Your skills will fail you if you are not fit (I know this first hand from getting gassed in the ring) and it doesn’t matter how good you are, if you run out of steam, your technique will fall apart when tired, that’s why it is important to have sound fundamentals to fall back on in those times.
TW: If you look back in time, would you have ever seen yourself getting into boxing and making a career out of teaching it?
No, had you asked me 10yrs ago that I would be a boxing coach, written 3 books available on Amazon and be a feature writer for a well known boxing site I would have probably thought not a chance, but here I am doing just that. I always knew I would eventually work for myself though, I never have responded well to authority.
TW: You mentioned in your feature writer profile that an injury prevented you from going further in your cricket career. What was that injury and does it still give you problems to this day?
I have Spondylolisthesis of the lower back, which is when a bone slips out of place. It started when I was around 16 and I was advised to either have an op and put a metal plate in my back or to carry on being active as a strong core would help support the back.
I took the latter option and have always been active but it does flare up and give me problems. I spar every week but if I spar more than twice in a week it gets really stiff. It’s not too bad, I was able to bodybuild with it but I always had to be careful about just how much weight I could lift on certain movements but of course I was never able to push my body to its maximum limits because of the back injury, whether that was cricket, weight training or boxing.
TW: What is your personal favorite article that you’ve written for the Ringside Report?
I’m not sure, personally I love writing about the history of boxing, some of those old timers who were great but articles like the Ali v Tyson and five biggest punchers are always fun to write.
TW: Do you have a quote that you refer back to on a regular basis or one that inspires you? If so, what is it?
Not really no even though I am quite big on the mental side of life as I believe having a strong mindset is essential to achieving success. There are lots of quotes which make me think and help keep me focused but none stand out.
It all depends on what stage of life you are at, when I was building to becoming self employed it was always motivational quotes, now I am self employed and experiencing all the highs and lows it is mostly quotes about persistence and never giving up.
TW: Who are your top 5 favorite fighters? Past and/or Present…
Favorite fighters are Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson, Sugar Ray Robinson, Floyd Mayweather, JR. and Riddick Bowe so all past fighters. Present fighters then I admire Terence Crawford and being Watford born and bred I have to support Anthony Joshua. I know his uncle from training in the same gym together, Joshua also trained in the same gym in his early/late teens.
I do also like Mikey Garcia but I much prefer old school fighters to be honest, Duran, Toney and some of those in my book Forgotten Legends of the Ring.
Defensive masters of the game such as Charley Burley, Nicolino Locche, George Benton, Wilfred Benitez, Toney, Mayweather, JR, Pernell Whitaker – I find these types of fighters fascinating.
TW: What is the best fight that you’ve ever witnessed, either on TV or ringside?
Best fight I have ever seen was the first Riddick Bowe Vs Evander Holyfield fight, I can remember as a child staying up all night to watch that one and probably re-watched it every day for some time after too.
TW: Do you have any advice for anyone looking to get into writing, whether that be with things like blogs, journalism or books?
If writing is something you are passionate about then the best way to get into it is to just get stuck in. Write as much as you can and you’ll get better at it. Overnight success is rare, you have to keep working and improving and eventually you’ll start seeing rewards. It’s not hard nowadays to start your own blog up and put your thoughts up.
TW: I’ve also seen that you trained with Spencer Oliver! I was lucky enough to spend some time with him at the first Froch & Groves fight. What a lovely guy!
I still do train with Spencer Oliver, every week for almost 3 years now. As a late starter to boxing I wanted to get coached by the best to make up for lost time. Spencer is someone who at one time was ranked no.2 in the world by the WBC and had it not been for an unfortunate injury aged just 23 would have without doubt become world champion.
Learning from him has been an experience, he is still in the game as a ringside TV analyst and he is just full of knowledge. Don’t forget his late father, who was also his trainer, was for a long time the head of the famous Finchley boxing club and in some form or another has played a part in training world champions such as Anthony Joshua, George Groves and Darren Barker, as well as Dereck Chisora, so there is a wealth of knowledge to be learnt from Spencer.
He’s still got it in the ring too – sparring him can be very unpleasant! He has also helped train my son, there are clips of Spencer training my son (as well as some of my son’s fights) on my instagram page ‘fayz_fitness’
TW: What was the most useful thing that you learned through working with him?
That’s a hard one not just because there is so much I have learnt from him, but because I am still learning from him.
TW: Just one more question to ask you Fayz, seeing as you’re a loyal AJ fan and fellow Watford man… With the Joshua and Wilder fight looking like it’s going to happen relatively soon, what are your predictions and how do you think this fight will pan out?
Funnily enough, the first article I wrote for Ringside Report was about a potential bout between AJ and Wilder. 8 months on my opinion is pretty much the same. Wilder is more brawler than boxer. He does have the best punch in the division and is probably the best finisher too, he is a dangerous opponent for anyone, not least because of his unorthodox and unpredictable style which can make it very hard to defend his punches. Generally, when a brawler meets a boxer, the boxer wins. Now I find it surprising to call AJ the boxer here but he has shown the ability to adapt and have a smart boxing brain.
Against Klitschko, AJ came in heavier and looking to use his size to land heavier blows, perhaps keeping in mind that Wlad had been knocked down or out in the past a number of times and that he had little chance in out boxing Klitschko. Against Parker, AJ adjusted again, coming in slimmer and not trying to live up to the hype of his punch, by boxing Parker and keeping him at the end of his jab all night.
Wilder has only shown the ability to fight one way really so I would expect AJ and his team to figure out a plan to nullify Wilder. Luckily for Wilder, the heavyweight division is the one division where one punch can literally end the fight because of the size and power of these bigger men. Wilder will always have a chance because of his punching ability but a betting man would put money on a 245-250lb Joshua handling the punch of a 215-220lb Wilder much better than Wilder handling the punching power of the much heavier and hard hitting Joshua. AJ is underrated as a counter puncher too, if Wilder gets sloppy like he often does, AJ will jump on an opportunity to counter.
If this was a trilogy I’d say AJ wins 2-1, if it is just the single bout I think AJ is just too smart and technically better than Wilder and takes the win. It’s a great fight though and a very close fight to call.
Check out Fayz’s available books for download on Amazon. He also runs his own Personal Training site and blog over at Fayz Fitness.