Unbeaten heavyweight Fabio Wardley gives us some insight into the journey so far
Fabio Wardley, in his own words...
I started playing football at seven or eight and just always played, for various teams. By the time I got to about 12 I got into the Ipswich Town Football Academy. I was there for about a year but never took it as seriously as I could have, I was half-decent but I never really thought, ‘I could something with this’; over the years I saw it more as a hobby. When I was much older I started playing senior football, but I rolled both ankles back to back quite badly. That messed up the whole football thing for me, every week I was in pain in my running, it was destroying my body; I stopped altogether at 18 or 19.
I had a stepbrother and for a long time we never spoke, never had any contact. We have the same dad, different mums and we lived in the same town. As we both got older we matured a bit, wanted to speak to each other and now we’re like best friends. We’d had no contact until I was about 15, 16. The first few years were rough but we got to know each other more. He’s older than me by 14-15 months.
I lefts school, got a job and that kind of took over. I got a job in a sales company, I saw a lot of people around me making money and that changed things. I had gone to sixth form for two-three months, but left and got an apprenticeship at a sales firm. I was a little office bitch, but then when it came time and the apprenticeship was finished, I was offered a proper position. I was a recruitment consultant for the health and social care sector. Being there for some time, even seeing the sales targets and what the others were making per month changed my focus, I literally saw that if I do what they’re doing I could make four-five figures a month. I started off as a low-level apprentice and eventually I moved on to a London firm as a senior consultant; that was the peak of it. One year when I was about 19 I earned about 50k. After my pro debut, I was still working full-time in London, but it was too hard to manage a 50-hour work week and train properly to keep up with the other pros. I had a part-time job in an Ipswich gym for about a year-and-a-half, then I got the call to go to Ukraine to spar Oleksandr Usyk for the first time. Once I got that call I knew I’d need two-three weeks off, work wasn’t gonna let me, so I thought, ‘I’ll jack this in and hopefully see where it goes.’
Coach Rob Hodgins
I’ve had little questions here and there, when I’ve gone sparring, other coaches have given me little nudges, ‘If you ever wanna move on…’ That’s happened a lot and it will always be there. I’m extremely loyal to the people that have got me here, and there is no point when he won’t be part of my team in some form. I understand I might one day need a new trainer to add a different perspective, but at no point will I ever get rid of him completely. You make it with the people that helped you get there, the amount of time he’s put in with me. I can’t get to a certain level and sack him off. I’ve told him when coaches are in my ear but we have more than just a boxer-coach relationship; we’re family all the way through.
Secret (free) agent
I don’t have a promoter, I regularly fight on Matchroom bills as my manager, Dillian Whyte, has some sway. I have the freedom to fight where I want. I can fight on a Frank Warren bill, I could fight in America.