Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Thompson's Press Conference Experience

The following is piece I found by Tony "The Tiger" Thompson himself about the experience he had at the initial press conference's in Kiev, Ukraine and Hamburg, Germany, for his heavyweight showdown with WBO/IBF/IBO Heavyweight Champion Wladimir Klitschko:

"I’ve had great experiences in Hamburg in the past and this was no exception. I arrived in Hamburg on a Monday afternoon (May 28) with my manager Nate Peake after a full day of traveling from Washington, DC. Already being a little under the weather, I wanted to rest up from a very tiring trip, and be ready to face Klitschko face-to-face looking strong and healthy for the press conference the following morning.

But it seemed no matter how tiring of a trip it was, or how I didn’t feel 100%, it was all overcome when I got that rush from knowing that I am going to be the next unified World Heavyweight Champion of the IBF and WBO on July 12th.

That thought immediately perked me up and got me mentally focused to be ready for the people of Hamburg. The one thing I thought would be funny was to wear my t-shirt that said, “Im not a basketball player.” Unfortunately, like my boxing shoes missing from my fight against Timor Ibragimov in 2007, so too was my “I’m not a basketball player” t-shirt I purchased the last time I was in Hamburg for the Krasniqi fight last year.

The people of Hamburg were still very warm, friendly, and inquisitive of whom this 6’5” giant was. What I didn’t realize was how many fans I had just from my last fight in Germany and the anticipation of the upcoming fight. Many, many people came up to me and wanted to shake my hand and take pictures with me and requested many autographs.

After a quick dinner, which was really lunch for us (because of the time difference), I went to bed early tired and jet lagged because I had to get up early for a busy day with morning interviews and a photo shoot and a noon press conference. I woke up at 10am that morning, which was really 4am back home.

After the photo shoot, I was on to my favorite part of the day, putting my custom made suit on knowing I was going to look great. My tailor from ‘WE R ONE’ made a stylish suit and of course my wife coordinated all of the accessories perfectly. I could’ve passed as secret agent 007 (James Bond) I looked so sharp. We were picked up from the hotel and rushed to the press conference where things got really interesting.

For a promotional piece German TV was doing, they wanted Dan (Goossen), Nate, and I to take a boat to the restaurant making a grand entrance into the press conference. Unfortunately, it was raining, which put a damper on the plans and not to mention our outfits. Klitschko and I were supposed to drive in on separate speedboats, however, the rain was coming down so hard they decided instead to have us come in on a tugboat, a real slow tugboat.

As network executives are prone to do, half way there they changed plans and headed to the dock and put us on separate speedboats despite the pouring rain. They wanted me to pilot the speedboat, which was difficult because the rain was pouring down in my face, drenching my beautiful suit. They didn’t seem to care. All they wanted was video of us coming in on the speedboats. Making matters worst, they had us coming in several times until they got what they thought was the perfect shot. I guess since Klitschko was as irritated as I was, I wasn’t going to let it bother me. I actually had a great time talking and laughing with Dan and Nate about it for the next few days.

It was pretty cool seeing all the people waving to us in the surrounding buildings and warehouses, and pointing at me like they knew who I was.

When we entered into the restaurant my team and I were greeted by a tremendous amount of media members and fans. They took us to our table where they introduced us individually and let us say a few words then came the questions. There were very few words from me. My favorite part was when the press conference was over and we did the stare down. I noticed that Klitschko tried to intimidate me when it went from nice to serious. I wanted him to know that I wasn’t going to be intimidated and this wasn’t a fight he was going to win. He seemed to get my message because he softened his stance a little and became a little friendlier. After the stare down we were suppose to have dinner, but our next flight to the Ukraine was right after the press conference. So we had to leave, pack, and change out of our suits and go to the airport.

Two hours later we arrived in the Ukraine where they had more cameras and reporters to greet us upon our arrival. The Ukraine time difference added an extra hour to my already tired and jet lagged weary body. But I still had dinner with my promoter and manager before heading off to bed.

The next day I woke up for a breakfast interview at 10am, which is really 3am in the morning to me, so it was really hard to function properly. But I manned up and I got through the interviews even with some of the language barriers. The next press conference was right after breakfast. When we got there, I was introduced with the Rocky theme song entrance music, which was interesting because I realty wanted to tell Klitschko “I must break you” but I didn’t want to offend anyone so I kept that tidbit of humor to myself.

I’ve never seen so many television cameras and press photographers in my life. Dan said it reminded him of the type of coverage Mike Tyson used to get at his press conferences.

After another day and set of questions, it was time for my favorite part of the trip, the stare down. I was not going to be caught off guard so I took my glasses off and I got as close as I could to Klitschko. Somebody yelled out closer, so I moved in where we were standing nose to nose. I won the first mind battle because he backed up and I came forward in his face knowing neither one of us wanted to be the first to move or blink. It seemed like we stayed in that pose forever, until his brother Vitali broke it up and told us to save it for July 12th. After the press conference, we did a very uncommon and unusual thing, we went to a late lunch with Waldimir, Vitali (and his wife), Dan, Nate, and me, where we were met by a woman journalist who was writing a big piece on the fight and needed extensive time with Wladimir and me.

I was surprised I enjoyed eating Ukranian food. It certainly was different, but pretty good. By this time I was really getting tired of all the interviews. I really wanted to get the fight going after that intense stare down, but I answered the questions and I ate my food and Dan, Nate and me left. The next day we hopped on a plane and traveled all day long.

Now back in the states and into training that’s it (smile) (laugh) lol till next report from training camp!"


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