You can imagine how other boys would have enjoyed putting him in his place.
But you cannot imagine them trying it now.
Today, the star is 6ft and 12st of solid muscle. And he has won his place in the history books as one of the greatest British fighters of all time.
Aged 35, the Italian Dragon is the undisputed super-middleweight champion of the world, unbe*ten in every one of his 44 professional fights and celebrating TEN YEARS as the champ.
Twenty-one times, fighters have tried to take his crown off him. Twenty-one times he has taught them a lesson.
Clean upper-cut ... at 13
Only the legendary Joe Louis – The Brown Bomber – and Dariusz Michalczewski – The Tiger – have successfully defended a boxing title on more occasions (25 and 23 times).
Yet, as a very young boy, Joe wanted to be a footballer and cried when he was left on the sidelines of the pitch.
His Italian dad Enzo recalled: “I was brought up in Sardinia, and the culture is very simple: You’re either a football player, a boxer, a waiter or a cook.
“I wanted Joe to be a soccer player but he wasn’t picked for this and that. And then, when he was eight, I gave him a punch-ball and he was pretty good.
“I took him to a gym at the age of ten and the trainer said, ‘You have an open-class kid.’
“I said, ‘What does that mean?’ He said, ‘It means he’s very, very good.’”
Former Pentwynmawr Junior School classmate Carl Johnson recalled: “Joe told me at eight years old that he would be world champion. And boy, was he right.”
The young Calzaghe was born in Hammersmith, West London, but moved to Newbridge, South Wales, with his dad and Welsh mother Jackie soon afterwards.
He lost his first amateur bout at the age of ten – and it would not be the last time he was reduced to tears.
At secondary school he was bullied and shunned by his entire class, despite the fact he was, by then, a British schoolboy boxing champion.
In his autobiography, No Ordinary Joe, he recalled: “In my third year I started getting picked on. I was quiet and one of the smallest boys in the year and they’d call me names and take the mickey.
“No one would talk to me, and I just went into my shell. It really affected me but I didn’t tell my mum and dad.
“I bottled everything up and got really depressed. I hated school and my schoolwork was badly affected.”
By the time he was 15, the name-calling had stopped. The teenage Calzaghe recorded knockout after knockout in 120 amateur bouts, thanks to the speed of his fists and his natural fitness and strength.
Champ ... Calzaghe
The last time he tasted defeat at any level was at the age of 18, as an amateur at the European Junior Championships.
Dad Enzo, a former session musician with Paul Young and Bucks Fizz, and a man who had never thrown a professional punch in his life, took over as coach when Joe was 17 – but he had always been in the background.
Enzo said: “I’ve never been scared of pushing Joe because my son is not a run-of-the-mill talent. He’s a genius.
“I noticed that and I was not going to let him live a normal life of socialising and destroy what I’d spotted.”
Joe said: “At times I hated Dad. When I was a teenager he kept pushing me into training when I wanted to go out with girls and have a drink like everybody else my age.” But he now believes Enzo was right and the two are very close.
Joe turned professional in 1993, making his debut at the Cardiff Arms Park on the undercard of Lennox Lewis v Frank Bruno.
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Posted By: 33heart33 |
7/10/12 12:26 PM
Id like to see those same bullies try him out now :P