Behind the scenes with Super-Welterweight Champion CJ Challenger
Young Leicester boxer CJ Challenger's career has gone from strength to strength since he turned professional in 2016, after winning 21 out of 30 bouts as an amateur.
He has since won all 10 of his pro fights and has been snapped up by leading boxing promoter Frank Warren, who described him as “an exciting young addition” to his growing stable of talent.
CJ’s approach to his career is exactly the kind of go-getting, aspirational and competitive attitude we love to see here at Adrenaline, which is why we brought CJ on board as an Adrenaline Architect to help champion our new brand.
To give you some insight into this talented boxer, we interviewed CJ to learn more about his strict training regime, his love for boxing and his hopes for the future….
Tell us about your training regime and how often you’re sparring in the gym
“On a day to day basis, we probably train twice a day, five to six times a week. If I’m in training camp, like now I’m in camp for a fight on March 29th, I’ll probably train two to three times a day. The type of training varies, depending on what we’ve got on in the week and when. We spar in the gym and we have days when we go out to spar. I have strength and conditioning sessions, endurance sessions, agility sessions - you name it. I have it all.”
What’s your lifestyle like away from the gym and the ring? What’s your diet like? (CJ’s super-welterweight division has a weight limit of 154 pounds, or 70 kg).
“Outside the gym, I have a nutritionist and we set plans. After fights, we set plans to keep me at an ideal weight so I’m not blowing up too much between fights. In general, my day to day life is very active. I’m always somewhere, always doing something. That’s why a lot of people know me. I’m always somewhere.”
Before you step into the ring for a fight, how do you mentally prepare yourself?
“I don’t do anything specific. It’s like everything - before a competition, you have to tune in, you have to get your tunnel vision. To be great in a sport you’ve got to be quite selfish at particular times. It’s literally just about making your world small. For me personally, there’s me, my coach and the person in front of me. They’re the three people I have to tune in to. Everything else has to go black. It’s easy to get roped into all the lights and all the noise. But really it’s about having your mental fortitude to stay on track and deal with the job at hand.”
How did you get into boxing?
“Initially I used to do kickboxing - I started when I was around three. I was kicking and punching pretty much before I could walk. My dad used to do kickboxing and other fighting styles too. As I got older, I’ve learnt that I love combat and I want to fight as a career. I fell in love straight away.”
Do you ever feel nervous or fearful?
“I used to be super nervous. Back when I was kickboxing I used to cry before I’d even get to sparring, let alone fight. In fact, my mum and dad used to have to coach me to get me into the sport. But now, I’ve been fighting for so long it almost becomes normal. Getting in the ring with someone who wants to fight me and I can’t run away… that to me now is normal. Of course you get a few nerves, but my dad always said to me nerves are just sharpness. If you didn’t have a few nerves then something is not right.”
What do you have to sacrifice as a sportsperson?
“The sacrifices you have to make... people don’t understand. Like when you’re at a big family function, everyone’s there eating, drinking, having a good time and you’re there with your Tupperware and your prepped meal and sipping on your water. It’s hard. It’s the same when people go to big events but you have to stay in because you’ve got things to focus on.
But, in the same sense, it’s part and parcel of it - it depends on how interested you are in the big picture. Trust me, I would rather have a short-term loss for long-term gain.”
What’s the ultimate end goal for you?
“Of course, in boxing, to be a world champion… you can be a household name. On top of that, it’s just to inspire people and to be able to put myself in the position to help others onto the right path. Lord knows I could have gone down a completely different path, but to be on the road that I am now, to be in the position that I am now, it’s a blessing.”
What’s been your best highlight/fight to date?
“It’s got to be my last fight, when I won my area title on BT Sports in my home town.”
Outside of your career, is boxing a passion of yours? Are you a boxing fan?
“Yeah, definitely. There've been countless times where I’ve stayed up until daft o’clock in the morning to watch fights.”
Who’s your favourite fighter?
“It sounds like a cliché now but I think Floyd Mayweather. I think aside from him being unbelievable at boxing, the way his business brain works is unbelievable because, to be honest, no one wants to get punched in the face for free. You have to make a living out of it and I think the way he’s done that is amazing.”
What would you say is the one thing you love most about the sport?
“The feeling. The buzz. When I get told that I’ve got a fight that’s confirmed, the feeling is unbelievable. When I announce the fight that I’m fighting, the amount of love, support, even the people that say you can’t do this… even that is an amazing feeling.
“ I’m the kind of person that’ll say alright, cool. Watch. The whole feeling that boxing gives you. The highs in camp, the lows… it’s like a big roller coaster. Imagine that you’re dieting, you’re on minimal food and you’re doing maximum training. Your emotions are all over the place. In the moment it’s crazy, but when you sit down and actually realise… that’s amazing.”
It’s fantastic that you’ve come on board as an Adrenaline Architect. How did this come about?
“I already knew the guys from Adrenaline through mutual connections, so the relationship just formed organically. As I was growing professionally, Adrenaline was coming along so the partnership just made sense.
“I’m actually sitting here wearing two things from Adrenaline myself. When you put them on you just feel good. I think that’s a massive thing - if you feel good, you perform well.”
Are you addicted to sports, thrills and adrenaline rushes like CJ? If so, check out our range here and discover a wide range of athleisure wear for men and women.