Rowan Campbell working on dream of becoming world boxing champion
It's hard to imagine that SA super-middleweight champion Rowan Campbell - who has the manners of a well-disciplined schoolboy - was expelled from school for fighting and struggled with anger issues as a child
They don't come more polite than Rowan Campbell.
The former Parktown Boys High pupil was sparring recently in preparation for his showdown against Yanga Phetani at Emperors Palace on Friday night when he got knocked down onto the seat of his pants.
Unbeaten Campbell, the SA super-middleweight champion, was still bouncing on the canvas when he praised lightweight Denis Mwale. "Good shot," he said.
A classic left-right combination to the chin while Campbell was committing the cardinal sin of trying to lean out of trouble caught him off balance.
He wasn't hurt, but the nine-fight professional with no amateur experience does want to learn.
It's pretty much the same mistake he made in his last fight earlier this year when he got felled briefly by Alex Kabangu.
"It's leaning back while throwing a punch," said Campbell, 25. "I've been working on it a lot. I think I've 80% remedied it."
Campbell's all-action style in the ring is in stark contrast to the soft-spoken man outside the ropes, but growing up he was a different person, getting expelled from a Christian school in Grade 11 for fighting.
In class one day, Campbell threw bits of Prestik at some of the other kids.
"I was stupid, I didn't even realise that Prestik got stuck in people's hair.
"It got stuck in his [one guy's] hair. And he came and shouted at me . I didn't even click why, I was 'why is this oke shouting at me?'
"And when break came I was so angry at him I had a grape and threw it at him as hard as I could and then he ran and tried to fight me."
Campbell, who was already doing boxing lessons by then, won convincingly.
"There was quite a lot of blood on the shirt, and I had a record. I was quite an immature and naughty kid."
Campbell moved to Parktown for his last two years and kept his nose clean.
"Boxing definitely teaches you self-control, discipline, and it doesn't sound nice, but it teaches you controlled aggression.
"It's quite an amazing thing ... it also teaches you about your emotions," said Campbell, the youngest of brothers Bradley and Warrick.
"It was quite a rough upbringing," he recalled. "My brothers used to beat me."
He and Warrick, two years older, used to share a room and they fought every day for about two years. "And I was always losing. But now my brothers and I have the closest bond."
Campbell's bout against Phetani for the IBO All Africa belt headlines the Golden Gloves bill.
But the main undercard bout is between Boyd Allen, a recent crossover from MMA, and Brandon Thysse, the son of former SA super-middleweight king Andre Thysse.There are people in both camps who think it's a mismatch - in favour of their boxer. Either Allen wins easily or Thysse will take it at a canter.But many, including Campbell, disagree. He sees a tight battle that could go either way.As eager as he is to watch it, he won't be doing that - he'll be warming up in his dressing room before his own fight."Fighters like Kevin [Lerena, his stablemate] for example, they are very calm and they can do that. Me, I'll record it and watch it at home."Campbell admits he gets nervous before fights, though not so much anymore."I'm getting a lot better. I'm very used to it, [but my] first fight I was very nervous, Kevin thought I was going to vomit."Live on SuperSport9 from 7.30pm