however, he doesn’t come close to approaching that fine line between confidence and arrogance. Let me digress no further, however. Although I’m sure Farnell is thrilled with the adulation I have thrust upon him, he’s probably becoming a touch concerned. Arnie, having now recovered from possibly the worst few months of his life, is ready to resume his love affair with boxing. Indeed, no one would have blamed Farnell if he had decided to just pack it in altogether. In the last five months he has lost his WBU title, contracted viral meningitis, was paralyzed for four days and, to top it off, the man he lost the title to, Eugenio Montero, had been abusing performance enhancing drugs. Now back on track and raring to go, Arnie was kind enough to give me the opportunity to interview him for SaddoBoxing.com.
SaddoBoxing: First question: How are you feeling at the moment, after the tough few months you’ve just endured?
Anthony Farnell: Well, I’m back into full training and I’m feeling great now. I’ve been doing a lot of sparring, lots of training. I’m really feeling great.
SB: I think everybody now knows you were paralyzed for a few days after the Montero fight. What happened there?
AF: They were giving me a lumber puncture on my spine and the needle caught a nerve on my spine, (Laughing) so I was paralyzed for about four days
SB: Are you back to full strength now?
AF: Oh yeah, total, total full strength now. I’m training three times a day now.
SB: Was there ever any point that you actually considered quitting, obviously for health reasons?
AF: No. If that was the best that I could have boxed, if I knew I was at my best that night, I would have quit. I know that wasn’t me in the slightest. That wasn’t even me at fifty percent. I was, I was totally gone that night, y’know? And I still went ten rounds. And he was taking steroids. And he said something about me, so there’s no chance of me quitting. I know I went in there and went ten rounds with someone who was taking steroids.
SB: Were your family always behind your decision to keep boxing? Did they ever advise you to quit?
AF: They just want what’s best for me. Obviously they said they would be behind whatever I wanted to do. But obviously I don’t think any family of a boxer wants them to fight. But they know it’s what I love, and they’ll stick by me one-hundred percent. Everyone has stuck by my decision.
SB: How’s your training going? Are you focusing on any particular aspects of your “game’?
AF: I’ve been told I’ll be fighting Gary Lockett in January.
SB: You’re definitely fighting him, then?
AF: Well, yeah, it should be definitely on for January, so I’ve been told.
SB: And are you focusing on any particular aspects of your “game’ in preparation for that fight?
AF: Well, obviously I’ve seen a lot of his fights and I know what he’s good at and what he’s bad at. We’re focusing on his weaknessesâ€¦and there are a lot of them. So we’re trying to take advantage of his weaknesses. I know he’s a great puncher, and he is an excellent fighter. I’m really training hard for this because I know it’s a big fight, a massive fight, and everyone wants to see it. When my back’s against the wall, I always fight better. Like when I fought Murphy, in Scotland, my back was against the wall. No one thought I’d win that fight, and I came out with a great win. So this will be the same.
SB: I heard that you were doing ballet a few years back. Did that help with your boxing at all? Are you implementing that into your training?
AF: (Laughing) No, that wasn’t my decision!
SB: Were you any good at it?
AF: I was good, yeah! (Starts laughing) I was good but that wasn’t my decision. I got told to do it. But obviously, like, I don’t think it improves your boxing. The only thing that improves your boxing is boxing!
SB: Is there ever a chance of a career in ballet if your boxing career turns sour?
AF: (Starts laughing) No, no! I think the only career I’ve got is boxing.
SB: After you lost your WBU title to Montero and it was discovered you had viral meningitis, the doctors said that they were surprised that you were able to even walk to the ring with that condition, never mind fighting for ten rounds.
AF: I was complaining with headaches and because of bright lights and stuff, so obviously they thought, “God, he’s been in a match and been stopped, so it must be a brain injury.” They gave me a lumber puncture for the brain injury, you know, to see what sort of injury it is, but they came back and said, “Your brain’s fine. But we can’t believe you even walked to the ring.” I was like, “Why, why, why?” And they were like, “You’ve just fought with viral meningitis!” (Laughing). “We can’t believe it!” And that’s the second time I’ve had viral meningitis.
SB: Yeah, I was actually going to say that. I read you might have it six or seven more times in your life.
AF: Exactly, yeah. They said my body’s very susceptible to getting that virus. Y’know, I only had ten days notice for the fight, so obviously I had to lose a bit of weight and, you know, train hard. So the doctors think I probably ran myself down and caught the virus that way. It was a bad night but obviously I’ve got over it now, and I’m back to full health.
SB: Did you actually feel poorly before the fight? Did you realize there was something wrong before the fight?
AF: No. To tell the truth, the people in the dressing room said to me afterwards that I didn’t look myself. Where usually I’m really geared up for the fight, they said, “We just thought you were just really relaxed because you were sat down in your chair, you weren’t really saying much.” But I just thought it was, like, a bit of nerves really, you know, last minute nerves. And the first round, I felt ok for the first round. And then I went to get off my stool for the second round and it was like I’d done a ten-mile run; I was absolutely knackered. I was drained, I had nothing in me. But I was really trying hard in the second round just to stand up really.
SB: Is the viral meningitis something that could strike at any time? Like, if you were preparing for a big fight, is that something that could just strike you down.
AF: It could strike any time. They said that I would have had the viral meningitis before the fight, obviously, but I made it worse by putting my body through a fight. So I made it worse that way really.
SB: Montero, as you know, actually failed a drug test after it too. That’s some handicap! Someone really didn’t want you to win that fight!
AF: Exactly. My manager said I should be getting my title back now, because he’s won on, you know, a foul. I’m disgusted with him really. I don’t even think he should be allowed to box ever again. I know in a lot of sports people take drugs, but in boxing, you know, when someone can get seriously hurt. People are dying in the ring and for someone to be taking sport-enhancing drugs. I think it’s disgusting. I don’t think he should be allowed to fight ever again.
SB: You would rather he was just banned than getting another fight with him to prove that.
AF :(Interrupting) Do you know what? I’d love to fight him again. I’d love to knock him into retirement myself (Laughing). I’d love to knock him into retirement myself. But the thing is I don’t think he should even be allowed to step into the ring again. I think it’s disgusting because you’ve got people like myself who, you know, train 1000% every day. I don’t take no gear. I go into the ring, train my hardest and I fight. I don’t take no sport enhancing drugs. He’s gone in there and taken sport-enhancing drugs and I think it’s disgusting, you know.
SB: I think everybody knows that that’s the only reason you lost anyway, a combination of the virus and him being on steroids.
AF: Exactly. A few weeks after I was gonna fight him, he was thinking about moving down to welterweight because he was like ten stone ten or something. But when I seen him at the weigh-in I thought, “Flipping heck!” He looked massive, pumped up. His muscles were big. I thought, “He can’t make light middleweight, never mind welterweight!” (Laughing). And obviously it was through the steroids.
SB: Back to the Gary Lockett fight. It’s a tough fight to take as your comeback fight, isn’t it? You must be very confident in your ability despite your recent lay-off.
AF: Exactly. I’m confident in my ability. And like you say, I think at this stage I need a fight that’ll get me up for it. He puts that fear into people because he can punch, so he’s made me train very hard. And I can’t wait for the fight. I really can’t wait; I’m looking so forward to it.
SB: Are you not concerned about ring rust at all?
AF: Not a bit because I’m doing loads and loads of sparring with really good fighters like Michael Jones, you know, people like that. It’s working well for me.
SB: And what about your other losses to the likes of Takaloo, would you like to avenge those at some point?
AF: We’ve asked Takaloo quite a few times, you know, for a return but he didn’t take it. He didn’t want the return. He said, “What have I got to prove?” He beat me proper, but obviously he caught me cold. He caught me with a good shot, but that could happen to anybody. Do you know what I mean? He caught me with a good shot. The thing is now with Takaloo, I don’t find him the better man than me. I find him a good puncher, a good boxer. I got on with Takaloo well enough, I get on with him well. But it’s like you say, it’s one of those things. I was too hyped for the fight, all the crowd was there and I was too hyped up and he caught me with a good shot. And praise to him, he won the fight.
SB: So he just caught you cold then?
AF: Yeah. I don’t even remember getting hit now (Laughing). I don’t think he’ll fight again, after that punch Wayne Alexander caught him with. I think he’ll be still knocked out now (Laughing). That was one of the best punches I’ve ever seen.
SB: Would you like to avenge your loss to Wayne Elcock?
AF: Do you know what? I’d like to fight Wayne again. I really would. I’d like to fight all the people that have beaten me, you know. I fought Ruben Groenwald again and I beat him. That night I just wasn’t at the races whatsoever. He beat me, you know, but I wasn’t at the races. I was somewhere else (Laughing). It was like I didn’t want to be there for some reason. That was late notice again. I jumped in at just over two weeks notice for that fight. Wayne Elcock boxed a very good fight. He’s very underestimated, you know. I know he got knocked out by Murphy, but he is underestimated. He has got some nice skills and he can punch hard. I think Wayne Elcock’s a good boxer.
SB: You mentioned Groenwald, who you lost to controversially but you won the WBU title from him in the rematch. Is that maybe your greatest achievement so far?
AF: Ummm, no, I have to say my greatest achievement isâ€¦
SB: (Interrupting) Murphy?
AF: Murphy, yeah. Murphy knocked out the person that beat me, you know. Then I went in and beat him, so I think that’s my biggest achievement.
SB: You have a passionate following. How much does that kind of support help you when you’re in the ring?
AF: It really, really does help me. It helps a lot. But even if I’m fighting with two people watching, I’ll fight the same way. Whenever I go running, I play snooker, if I go fish, I like to be the winner all the time. I hate losing (Laughing). As I say, though, if there are 50,000 people there or fifty, I’ll fight the same way.
SB: Who would you like to share the ring with in 2005, anyone in particular?
AF: Obviously, my mind’s just on Lockett. You can’t look past someone like Gary Lockett. I’m gonna beat Gary Locket and there’s no two ways about it. In my mind, I’m 1000% confident. But you can’t look past people like that because, you know, he’s a very good fighter. The only time I looked past someone was when I fought Takaloo, and you know what happened there.
SB: How far do you actually see yourself going in boxing? I mean, should Bernard Hopkins be looking over his shoulder?
AF: (Laughing) Obviously Bernard Hopkins is one of the greatest fighters to have lived really. He’s a brilliant fighter. All I’ve got is praise, you know. I’ll never say, “I’m gonna do this or I’m gonna do that,” you know? He’s a great fighter. What’s on my mind just now is Gary Lockett. And then I’ll carry on from there.
SB: Are you confident enough in your ability that you could challenge at the very top level at some point?
AF: On my day I could handle myself with anybody, on my day. That’s what I feel myself. There might be some people that, you know, think differently. I’ve sparred with some great fighters and I’ve handled myself. Sometimes, it’s my own stupidity. I get caught up in the moment. But when I’m calm and collected, I can handle myself with anybody in there in the world. That’s what I think.
SB: A couple of questions just to finish up. How much longer do you see yourself boxing for?
AF: (Pauses) That’s a hard question really. Um, I wouldn’t want to go past thirty-years- old.
SB: It just depends on how you feel really?
AF: Really it depends on how I feel. I could feel great when I’m thirty; I could feel bad in two years time. It depends on how your body feels. It depends on how many good fights you’ve got left in you really. And only time can tell.
SB: When you finish boxing, do you plan on staying in the fight game in some capacity? Perhaps as a trainer?
AF: Yeah, yeah, I plan to stay on as a trainer, yeah. Because I think I’ll be a great asset. I plan to stay in this game as long as I’m around, because I love the game. I love the people and the game. So when I retire, that’s what I’d like to do,yeah.
SB: Is there anything you would like to add before we finish?
AF: I just hope that everyone has still got belief in me because I’ve got belief in myself. And I hope, you know, everyone keeps an eye on the fight when I fight Gary Lockett.
SB: Have you got a date and a venue for that fight yet?
AF: No, I’ve just been told it’ll be in January.
SB: Ok then. Well, thanks very much on behalf of Saddoboxing.com
AF: Alright, thanks a lot.
To learn more about Anthony, visit his official website at www.anthonyfarnell.net
James MacDonald can be reached at email@example.com