Feature Story

Q&A: Sam Soliman

Photo: Ray Wheatley--World of Boxing
Photo: Ray Wheatley--World of Boxing

By Ray Wheatley–World of Boxing

Sam Soliman recently captured the IBF Australasian title and has battled the best middleweights and super middleweights in a distinguished career. His profile was lifted after he gave Winky Wright one of his toughest fights and he also lost a controversial loss to Anthony Mundine in 2008 when punch stats had him out working the WBA title holder. Soliman talks to Fightnews and says that trainer Dave Hedgecock and manager Stuart Duncan were instrumental in his success, how he is looking forward to the birth of his son and that he will retire in 2012.

You have had a great career in boxing. Please tell me what titles you have won.

Over a career spanning 13-years as a pro and 8-years as an amateur, I’ve won eight 12-round championship titles. My 1st was the Australian cruiserweight title which I’d won in my 2nd pro fight. Two more Australian titles as well in the middle and super middleweight divisions, then lost the light middle and light heavyweight title shots of which I fought so that I could be the first boxer ever to win five Australian titles in five different weight divisions.

I won the Commonwealth title against the English champ and the OPBF title against the Japanese champ. This placed me in the WBC top five world rated. Then three months later I got an inch shy of becoming world champion when I won and successfully defended the IBF Pan Pacific middleweight title which gave me an IBF No.1 world rating to be the mandatory to fight the winner of the Oscar De La Hoya and Bernard Hopkins.

Your bout with Winky Wright lifted your profile. You outscored Winky on punches scored but were judged the loser. Please give me your thoughts on that bout.

Unfortunately this fight was on a Winky Wright promotion, so to win it I was going to need to have a near shut-out on the score cards or a KO, but neither happened. I lost a close fight.

You were offered to challenge Kingsley Ikeke for the vacant IBF 160 title. You took the fight with Winky instead of Ikeke. Do you have any regrets? You were favorite to defeat Ikeke who lost to Arthur Abraham who captured the IBF title.

I have no regrets because my manager at the time, Stuart Duncan, who pound-for-pound is by far the best manager in the world, knew that I only would fight the best of the best and Wright at that time was exactly that. Fighting Wright, Stuart knew that my profile would sky rocket and that it did, with my Contender TV series opportunity becoming a reality for me.

You defeated several world rated boxers in the USA including Raymond Joval and Enrique Ornelas. Please tell me about those fights.

Amsterdam’s own Ray Joval had made 9 successful defenses of his world title with a record of (32-2) unfortunately for me I was one of his victims. Four years later we went at it again when I fought him for the IBF No.1 world title eliminator in L.A and got my revenge shutting him out over 12 rounds. Enrique Ornelas (25-2) is one of Mexico’s favorite sons. He was a tough fighter and the fight was like a chess match for the whole twelve rounds. He was the promoters big world champion prospect, it was a real test for me and was a great scalp.

You had three fights with former WBA super middleweight champion Anthony Mundine. In your last fight in 2008 you outscored him on the punch stats. Please give me your thoughts.

Yeah, first and third fight I out scored the Interim world champ so regardless of the “Mundine” promotion decision on those nights, it was a sweet victory for me having the thousands watching and chanting for me that night. Nevertheless, Mundine is a gifted boxer who had no amateur career and still went 12 rounds with other champs in his weight devision eg. Kessler and Manni Siaca to name a few.

Please tell me about your relationship with your long time trainer Dave Hedgecock. How long has he trained you? Is he the key to your success?

Dave Hedgcock, a former world kick boxing champion himself, has trained me for 16-years now and his ability to adapt to his fighters style, fine tuning there skills and eliminating any bad habits is remarkable. He teaches angles that when people, fighters, trainers and whoever is watching are in awe at the rather unorthodox but effective technique he instills in his fighters. No doubt a master in his field, who has created many champions in the past and continuing his great legacy as a trainer.

Please tell me about your former manager Stuart Duncan who helped you become world rated middleweight and super middleweight.

Renowned as a fighter who fought anyone, anywhere, anytime, I built a reputation that gave me world renowned respect, but unfortunately this had it’s downs to it because I accepted fights out of my weight devision and last minute phone calls from promoters offering me fights on three days or a weeks notice which I accepted every time. Then a man came along that I’d only met a couple of times who came to my fights in Oz and O.S to support and cheer me. He was not a manager at the time, but owned a mobile phone company and was passionate about his unbelievably athletic kids whom years later I trained with, his Aussie rules football, beloved St Kilda and boxing.

The day I fought Mundine and lost a split decision, Stuart was there in Syd for the fight as usual and was totally shattered. He approached and told me it was time to make things right for me. He said that flying in to Australia five days prior to a 12-round championship fight from England, fighting out of my weight range, fighting on two weeks notice and fighting on my opponents promotions all the time was why my record read (12-7). He took me under his wing, didn’t feed me any easy opponents but made fights fair with both I and my opponent having 4 to 6 weeks to prepare for each fight and in our weight class. I won 21 straight wins after that and I couldn’t imagine anyone could resurrect a fighter as down and out as I was with that many blemishes on my record, to place me IBF No 1. in the world, get me an opportunity to meet Stallone, Suger Ray Leanard on Contender, a crack at pound-for-pound No. 3 in the world Winky Wright and be the reason I’ve got to travel the world.

You recently returned to ring action with a KO win in Melbourne in August. What is next for Sam Soliman?

I have had the dream of winning the world title and representing Australia fighting in Las Vegas for more than 20-years. That is exactly what I’m going to do and there will be nothing stopping me…Nothing.

You and your wife will be proud parents soon. When is the big day due?

Two weeks, four days, nine hrs and fifteen minutes, give or take a minute or two. Do you reckon I’m counting! Ha ha. Maria’s due Sep 18th and we found out it’s a boy. A mini-me, with an Afro like mine and I’ve already seen knuckle prints out of my princess’s tummy. The kids baked and ready. Can’t wait!

How many years left as a boxer for you?

I have promised my wife I will hang’m up on my son’s 3rd birthday, but If I win the title as soon as 2010, I will make 3 or 4 defenses, have a unification of my belts and retire.

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