|February 2, 2003
When six-year-old Iranian-born Mehrdad Takaloo Bigashi came to Britain in 1981 he
could not have dreamed that his future would see him as one of the Light-Middleweight
elite of boxing.
Having a relative in Margate, Kent, they decided to settle and try to make a future
there. When he arrived Takaloo had no knowledge of English, making him an easy target
for racist bullies. It was the result of this that encouraged one of his relatives
to take him to Margate Boxing Club at the age of 9 to learn the art. Boxing was not
a sport he would have been introduced to in Iran, but he found he loved it and trained
almost every day without fail. From that day Takaloo didn't look back, he became
a schoolboy champion and boxed for England at both junior and senior levels.
By the age of 13 the boxing public was already noticing him as he notched up a row
of impressive wins. Under careful training by Terry Collins, a former England representative,
Takaloo's boxing continued to improve and at 16, after an impressive run in the junior
ABA championships, he was selected for the England schoolboys' squad.
Takaloo's ability to land heavy body punches and then, when the time was right, switch
to headshots made him a dangerous opponent. Trainer Terry Collins commented that
Takaloo was so dedicated to the sport that he had to keep a watchful eye on him to
make sure that he didn't overdo it. By the age of 18 he had made three appearances
for Young England, taken an NABC title and won the senior ABA Southern Counties competition
Winning the NABC title at the age of 17 was Takaloo's most memorable amateur fight,
"To go through the competition winning by knockouts in every fight, and then
to do the same in the final, is something I'm very proud of and will never forget,"
he said. His record was impressive, 60 wins from 72 fights, with 16 knockouts in
22 senior fights once he turned 17. Collins admits that he fixed fights by putting
weight in Takaloo's shorts to get fights with heavier opponents, but it soon became
obvious that he would have to turn professional.
Early in his professional career Takaloo struggled to make his mark, suffering two
defeats against Jawaid Khaliq and Michael Jones. Anyone questioning his credentials
at that stage can now look back and see how wrong they were. Since then Takaloo has
gone unbeaten, taking the IBF Inter-continental and WBU world title, earning himself
a reputation as a skilful hard-hitter who can fully punch his weight of 11 stone.
On 19th July 1997, at the age of 21, Takaloo made the perfect debut as a professional
boxer. As part of an all star bill at Wembley Arena he stopped Worcester's Harry
Butler in the first round. Takaloo was now managed by Frank Warren and trained by
Jimmy Tibbs at the Peacock Gymnasium in Canning Town, East London. It was unusual
for a new fighter on the professional circuit to be able to train in such luxury,
but generous sponsorship enabled him to concentrate his time on preparing for the
fight. It was clear from his inclusion on the bill of such a prestigious fight that
his team had great hopes for his future.
For his next three fights he remained undefeated, beating Michael Alexander, Koba
Kulu and Mark Sawyers. He lost his fifth against Jawaid Khaliq on a TKO, after suffering
dizzy spells during the fight. Blood tests afterwards revealed that he had an iron
deficiency. Takaloo suffered no such indignity when he fought Anas Oweida in his
next fight. This is still considered to be one of his best victories as he inflicted
a crushing defeat with a first round knockout. The power he demonstrated amazed all
that saw it. Unfortunately Oweida had to be stretchered from the ring, but happily
made a full recovery.
Sent by Farhad
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