Kay Prospere

Go back to July 2001 and Billy Schwer was finishing his career, falling short in a tilt at the IBO super lightweight world title.  Schwer had a distinguished career, hailing from Luton he went on to win British, Commonwealth, European and world honours.  No doubt the most successful boxer from the town famous for making motors, his boots have yet to be filled.  Michael Devine continues to have his successes but has not reached the heights some had hoped for.  There is another man who is looking to push the boxing boundaries on behalf of his townsfolk, Kay Prospere.

A highly touted member of the Goodwin Boxing stable, Prospere joined the sport late have turned professional at 29 years of age.  In his three years he has won all nine of his bouts and twice fought at the O2 Arena on David Haye undercards.  An impressive start, but to Kay, it is just that:  the start. 
“Michael Devine is a motivation for me” says Prospere.  “I want to be headlining shows in Luton, I want to have big shows put on and to be the main man.  I need to get this belt and more lucrative ones and hopefully we can get a show put on in Luton.”

The belt he is referring to is his stepping stone, the Southern Area super lightweight title.  He will get the chance to challenge for it on October 29th at York Hall in London where is his way stands Rakeem Ashaye Noble, a man with 10 wins and a single loss to his name.  So will the belt be coming back to the land of The Hatters in Luton?  “I respect Rakeem.  I did say I thought Sohail (Ahmed) would beat him.  I didn’t know much about Sohail, but I underestimated Rakeem.  That’s one thing I won’t be doing in this fight, underestimating him.  I’ll give him the respect he deserves.  He’s won ten of his eleven fights because he deserved to.  If I turned up out of shape and not taking it seriously he could turn me over and that’s not going to happen.”

Noble is a classy boxer.  His sole loss came in a four rounder, a fight he admits he underperformed in against Ivan Njegac.  He is also a man renowned for his fitness, an accomplished athlete in many fields.  I have heard coaches comment that if this fight goes late, it could favour Noble with the engine he has.  Does that bother Prospere?  “I’m planning for it.  With Rakeem, he has that fitness because he’s a slow starter.  He doesn’t really use his mobility in the first couple of rounds.  That’s why he lost the Njegac fight, because it was only over a short period of time.  It takes him four rounds to get going, then he only has the six rounds to start working hard.  In them early rounds, that’s where I’ll make him pay, so when he comes to use his energy in the later rounds he’ll already have it sapped out of him.  I’ll work him to the body, land my shots and then when he wants to put his foot on the gas he won’t have it in him.  He can have as much energy as he likes but he won’t land shots on me.  My feet are too fast and I’m too sharp; I have all bases covered.”

There are weaknesses that Prospere feels he has seen and can exploit in Noble.  “I’ve got respect for Rakeem but I feel he leaves his chin out to dry.  He might change but from what I’ve seen of him he leaves gaps.  I’ve watched a couple of his fights, I’ve watched some of the Sohail fight but I haven’t got full footage of it.  He leans back with his head up in the air so that could be a danger for him, but if not I feel like I can just wear him down and in the later rounds get the job done.  I’m just looking forward to putting on a good performance and winning every round.  If I win every round I’ll be happy.”

One side-story to the fight are the trainers.  Prospere is training at Club KO gym under the guidance of the experienced Terry Steward, a man who has seen success over the years at all levels, including recently with James DeGale’s world title.  For Noble, he trains out of Miguel’s Gym in Brixton where the success is breeding.  As well as Noble and his Southern Area title, the gym has also seen Dominic Akinlade pick up the heavyweight equivalent and Issac Chamberlain claim the cruiserweight strap.  Prospere is envious, and wants to be able to bring the same levels to his own gym.
“They have a good buzz down there I’m sure, they’ll all be pushing each other on.  We’ve got some great lads.  Success breeds success.  I’ll win this title then next thing you know Brad (Pauls), Linus (Udofia), Luke (Robinson); they’ll all be picking up their own titles and getting motivation off the back of me.  When we’re training, all those boys are on a good level and that competition helps.  It’s not a single person sport like people think.”

This is the first fight where Prospere has been able to give him training camp the full attention, being able to go full-time as a boxer.  As he says himself, the differences have been tangible.  “I’m training couple of times a day now.  All the hard work has been done, just sharpening up now.  It’s pretty much the fulltime camp I’ve had; it means you can go more in-depth and cover more bases.  If you’re training just once a day you can’t really do strength and work on techniques.  I can spend a lot more time on developing parts of my game.  I get that time with Terry (Steward) too one-to-one, I’m in a good place.”

This will be the first scheduled ten rounder for Prospere.  With the additional training and time with the Head Coach, does he feel ready for the challenge?  “Yeah, 100 per cent.  I’m ten round ready if not twelve rounds.  I’ve only ever done six but I’m not fazed by it.  I’m good enough I can control the fight and fight at the pace I want to fight at.  With Rakeem, his main attribute is he’s a fit kid and he can be there until the end.  But I know with myself I’m in a good place fitness wise.  They can be fit, but if they’re hitting fresh air it’s no good, he’ll burn himself out.”

Prospere is also approaching this fight with an added maturity.  Age is one thing, but experience is another.  In his last outing at the O2 in May of this year, he faced tough Dutchman Innocent Anyanwu.  Circumstances didn’t play into Prospere’s hands that night, put on as a ‘floating’ fight he was ready and gloved up early in the evening, but had a frustrating wait to appear.  He finally made his way to the ring after the main event of David Haye and his sideshow with Shannon Briggs.  The uncertainty over his fight has served him well.

“It’s helped me yeah.  I can deal now with things not going to plan, keeping my mind switched on.  The O2 cards were both big occasions on that stage.  I’ll be more composed from it.  Whereas before nerves might have changed my thought process, now having gone through what I have I can stay a bit more centred.  I used to go out and try to jump on my opponents but with that second O2 fight, the opponent was a lot tougher than I thought he would be too.  I took a lot from it.”

One thing he will be experiencing on October 29th is for the first time in his career, headlining a card.  The Goodwin Boxing show, Fight Nite, will feature two eliminators for the Southern Area cruiserweight title as part of the undercard as well as Kay’s gym mate Linus Udofia.  Is Kay feeling the pressure?  “I’ve not really taken it on board.  I’m just going for another fight and putting on another performance.  I’m not putting any more pressure on myself by saying I need to be the main man or have the best fight, I just need to be prepared and whenever it’s my time to go out I’ll get the job done.”

Outside of the belt, the gym mates and the desire to bring boxing back to Luton there is something else also driving Prospere on; another family arrival.  “My little girl is nine months now, so I’m fully accustomed to the nights.  She’s good, sleeps through the night so I’m getting my rest and waking up fresh, training hard.  The motivation levels have gone up, the drive and will to win just increases because I have someone else to achieve things for as well as my little boy and my Mrs.  I want to do them all proud and this is the first step.”
October 29th may not be his end goal, but for Prospere it is a vital step.  If the aim is bring boxing to his home town once again then he knows a win at this stage of his career is vital.  His home town rival, Devine, will be in action early December as he takes on Ben Day for the Southern Area lightweight title.  With only a few pounds in weight separating the two, the door is not closed yet on a doorstep rivalry being settled.  “I hope Devine does well and wins, then keeps winning.  It’s better for me, he’s not with Steve (Goodwin) but the more he does then the better possibility me and him can put on a good show.  If I get a lucrative title I think he’d fight me for it.  I can’t get down to his weight but he’s come to mine before and I think we can do that.  It’s always in the back of my mind to get that showdown.”

In the back of his mind is where it will have to stay for now.  Noble is no walkover and Prospere acknowledges that.  But if he can return to Luton on October 29th with the belt around his waist, then it could be the first step to seeing boxing return to the town on a regular basis.
Kay wanted to thank the sponsors who have made his training possible in the build up to this fight.  They are International Watch Group and Traditional Property Group and he wanted to thank JP Smith at Boxing Luton for the continued support that they give to his career.

Tickets for October 29th are available from http://iboxingtickets.com/