By Chris Spyrou and Takis Triadafillou
With roller doors closed and only a single light coming from a neon sign illuminating a Spartan helmet and the words ‘Ferocious Boxing,’ it is unmistakable where we find ourselves.
Sitting before us in George Kambosos Jr’s brand new Sydney gym is his father and manager, Jim Kambosos.
“It looks good, hey?” the World Lightweight Champion remarks, impressed at the neon sign.
“Of course it does, I showed him how to wire it,” his father replies with a smile.
After only minutes of being in the same room with these two, it becomes apparent that Jim, the manager, is an organised and methodical businessman, whereas Jim, the father, is a storyteller who is quick to poke fun and deliver a wicked one-liner without warning.
When we ask whether managing his son’s professional boxing career is a difficult operation, Jim is unphased, telling us it’s a role he’s been doing from the day George was born.
“As his father, I’ve always looked out for his best interests. As his manager, I’m making sure that all the negotiations, agreements and contracts work for George and maneuver him in the right direction,” he says.
It’s a dual role that has seen Jim by his son’s side for 100 amateur and 20 professional fights.
“We’re a solid father and son team. It’s just a brilliant story that will be told for many years,” Jim says.
Jim then takes us back to the 10-year-old George who was overweight and being bullied. He says it was boxing that not only got his son fit, but it reinstated his confidence and self-belief.
“George was overweight and getting picked last in every sport. He was coming home and he was a little bit quiet… you would ask him about school and he didn’t want to talk about the day. But it wasn’t just at school. When he was running around the street playing, ‘the little fat kid’ wasn’t cutting it with anybody,” he says.
“We fell into boxing just so he could lose weight, but it turned out to be a blessing. George just fell in love with the sport and look who he is today because of it.”
Though in the pre-boxing years George was short on confidence, the now-boxing champion never lacked dedication.
“He never cheated. I used to test him and say, ‘hey, take a shortcut when you run around the field, you’ll come second last.’ Nah, he wouldn’t do that. He did everything the right way,” Jim says.
The proud father always supported George from the sidelines of the rugby field on Saturdays and followed him around the globe in his quest to conquer the lightweight division. This was a luxury made possible thanks to Jim’s parents.
“My parents came here to give us the best life. My mother worked at home making clothes and my father worked about four jobs, I never saw him,” Jim says.
“I played rugby league from the age of nine up until 18. My dad was always working and couldn’t come to watch me play, so I couldn’t get that little bit of, ‘hey, bravo, congratulations, that was a good game.’ I never got that pat on the back.
“I always said to myself, as an Australian-born Greek who had more of the luxuries of life then they did in Greece, that I wasn’t going to miss those moments when I had children.
“When George’s career moved to another level I pushed my career [as an electrician] to the side because I always promised myself that I was going to support and give my kids the opportunity, not in just sports, but in anything they wanted.”
On November 28 last year, George defeated former champion Teófimo López in New York’s Maddison Square Garden, continuing his undefeated streak and becoming the holder of the WBA, WBC, WBO and IBF belts.
“It was always something that I envisioned as much as George did – becoming a world champion. I envisioned that when we got to that moment, I was going to pick my boy up, have a tear in my eye, look up at him and say: ‘man, you did it’,” Jim explains.
Now, ahead of George’s June 5 mega-fight to become the world’s first-ever undisputed champion of the lightweight division, Jim reminds us that “George is a Spartan and the Spartan Legion’s got to stand with him.”
In a direct message, he urges the Greek community “to show their passion, wearing their blue and white colours.”
It’s at this point that George, who is making feeble attempts at concealing his laughter, alerts us that ‘Jimbo the Salesman’ has made an appearance.
Continuing his animated address to the Greek community, Jim lists: “Bring your mother, bring your father, bring your yiayia, bring your kids. I’m telling you, this is something that will never repeat itself again. George created history when he beat Teófimo López as a 13:1 underdog.”
“This is history now on Australian soil where you’ve got this champion who’s making the Greeks and the Australians proud, carrying two flags in that ring and everybody’s got to get down there,” he concluded.
What ends in an eruption of laughter marks the perfect conclusion to our interview with The Greek Herald’s favourite dadager: Jim “Jimbo” Kambosos.