A Chat With Christian Schembri aka Coqqos

If you follow my stories on Instagram you’d know that I recently started boxing. I’m constantly on the lookout to start something new -especially when it comes to fitness. Boxing has always been on my wishlist so when I started going to Fort Fitness in Sliema, earlier on this year, I decided that boxing was my new challenge. And there was no other trainer that I was going to trust my inexperienced boxing hands than with Christian Schembri – Coqqos.

Christian Schembri, known as Coqqos in boxing circles, started his journey as a boxer at the age of 17 when during the football off-season, he used to stay fit by training kickboxing and boxing. At the age of 20, he realised that football was not for him and that his calling was indeed boxing. ‘I won my first fight shortly after and from that point on, I never looked back’, says Christian.

Christian considers himself lucky that, through his hard work, he can call his hobby, a job in which he’s a full-time boxer and also teaches boxing professionally. But I was interested to know more about Christian’s life as a boxer.

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In anything in life there’s going to be setbacks. As much as you try to be prepared for whatever, you just can’t. Shit is gonna hit you like a tonne of bricks and there could be stuff which you were never prepared for. . There’s a great Miles Teller true story movie about a boxer called Vinny Pazienza who suffered a nasty car accident and was partially paralyzed. The movie was pretty graphic, and what’s great about it was that he recovers so much so that he was back in the ring and regained his titles. But in an instant his life flipped upside down. . When thinking about setbacks I like to look at the bigger picture all the time. What am I about? Why was I put on this planet and in what way do I plan to contribute? . When I visualize dealing with setbacks, I see them like blindside shots you don’t see coming. They wind the heck out of you and sometimes have the power and surprise element that in my sport can knock you out. . From then on it takes a bit of courage. The courage to stay true to your values when life is punching you right across the face. . It’s the same as any other setback; dust yourself down, get mentally focused again and have the courage to fight on and persevere. You can’t teach fight, you either want shit or you don’t. . That’s as simple as it is. . The movie called Bleed for This by the way. #teamcoqqos #comebackstronger

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‘ I am able to train twice a day and do what I love on a day to day basis. Most of the time I am also able to structure coaching other people around my training and try to have some free time to rest during the day. The only disadvantage I can think of is when it comes to ticket selling before a fight. Unlike other athletes, we do not get paid cash but according to the tickets we sell to our supporters. We also have to pay our opponents through ticket sales and any sanctioning fees for an organisation required to fight for title belts. So, financially it’s not the most rewarding sport, but on a personal level, it’s very fulfilling’.

Although Christian trains all year round, training is more intense before a fight. ‘I train twice a day. Usually, I wake up any time between 4.30 am and 6 am, depending on my coaching sessions, and have my morning run or gym session. In the afternoon, I tend to have my boxing training. My boxing sessions vary from sparring (fighting in training), punching bag workouts and padwork with my coaches, Donny Lalonde and Quendar Pena, two very experienced guys, who had long and distinguished careers in the USA’.

According to Christian, the boxing world has changed exponentially since he started out. ‘The crowds have grown, professional boxers have increased significantly and the level of opponents brought in from abroad has risen as well. Malta is now also a member of the EBU, WBC and WBA which are major boxing organisations in the world’.

But you don’t have to be or want to be a professional fighter to start boxing. ‘Boxing is the original HIIT workout in which you get 2-3 minute rounds of punching or fitness based exercises with only thirty seconds to one-minute rest. This burns a lot of calories and improves cardiovascular endurance. Boxing also improves strength and muscle tone which come with a ton of health benefits. It has also proven to be very helpful as a workout to help patients with Parkinson’s disease. The best thing about boxing is that even though it’s a very physical sport, it leaves you quite calm after a workout’.

Christian is proud of it all but ‘I think my proudest moment is beating Scott Dixon and winning the Maltese Championship. I am going to defend this title against Richard Vella on 19th of May. At the time, Scott Dixon was undefeated against Maltese boxers. Since he is an ex-Commonwealth champion, this was a very high honour for me’.

What keeps Christian motivated is that he always wants to be the best that he can be. ‘I want to win as many titles as possible and become the most successful professional boxer and athlete to come out of Malta’. When asked if he has any role models, Christian claims that although he has always admired Mike Tyson and Muhammed Ali, two absolute legends of the sport, ‘my dad is my role model. He is the hardest worker I have ever known. He worked 60 hours a week for most of his life to support us and help me and my sister achieve our dreams and he still found the time to be a caring, compassionate husband and father’.

When asked what he thinks he would be if he wasn’t a professional boxer, Christian said, ‘I would probably be a PT preaching about all the health benefits training and eating clean gives you. I ‘ve been training, some sort of sport or another, since I was 4 years old…so I don’t think I would have changed much!’.

Come and support Coqqos on Saturday 19th May at Corradino Sports Pavillion, Paola. Doors open at 18.00 and the first fight begins at 19.00. Tickets start from €25. Get your tickets by calling on 79311928 or by contacting Christian Coqqos Schembri on Facebook or Instagram!

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