I recently had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing a very good, very classy young boxer whose career is on the upswing.
Andy “Kaos” Kolle is 25 years old, 6’1″ tall, and fights as a middleweight. His record at this writing is 16-1 (12 knockout wins), his only loss a stoppage due to swelling against Olympic gold medalist Andre Ward. His most recent result is an eight round unanimous decision win against Matt “The Predator” Vanda of Saint Paul, who brought a dazzling 37-4 record into the match.
Kolle, a native of Fergus Falls Minnesota, is one of four children. He has an older sister, a younger sister, and a younger brother. Andy says that his little brother Sam is also a boxer, an amateur middleweight at 6 feet 3 inches tall. He sees himself as an independent sort, saying that he prefers boxing to basketball because of the self-sufficiency of the ring. He is unmarried but not unattached, a college student in Fargo, double-majoring in Sociology and Criminal Justice. Kolle hopes someday to be a probation officer and work with teenagers.
Asked about the current state of his career, Kolle is effusive. Beating Vanda, he says, “opened a lot of doors…there are some bigger things in the planning stage, but I can’t really talk about them until they’re finalized.” Something he can talk about is his next fight, which is planned for February 23 in Superior Wisconsin. The opponent is expected to be the venerable Troy Lowry of St Paul, who despite a string of setbacks, still possesses an impressive 27-8 record.
Kolle thinks that he fought well against Vanda but didn’t do everything right, and he wants to commit himself 100% to boxing to see whether he can get it all right. To that end he plans to take a break from school and move to Duluth from January until May of 2008 – Duluth is where his boxing home, Horton’s Gym, is located. Kolle speaks in glowing terms of the team at Horton’s, especially co-trainers Chuck Horton and Jack O’Brien, and his good friend Zach “Jungle Boy” Walters, a rapidly rising light heavyweight. He describes Horton and O’Brien as boxing experts who helped him to discover punching power he never knew he had. As an amateur, Kolle says, he was a counterpuncher. Because punching power isn’t as important in amateur boxing as it is in the pros it is seldom cultivated, and this was the case with Kolle. Asked whether he has any family in the Duluth area he allows that although he has a girlfriend there, he will be without family. But then, his team will become his family, won’t it?
I asked Kolle about the physical side of boxing. He told me that he’s very comfortable as a middleweight, has absolutely no trouble making weight at 160 lbs, and could even get down to 154 as long as the weigh-in and the fight aren’t on the same day. He has never suffered a significant injury in boxing, although a deep bruise on his knuckles did cause numbness in his left arm during the Vanda bout. He also mentioned that despite being knocked down in the seventh round against Vanda, the first knockdown of his career, he was never hurt – just surprised to be down. Kolle likes to stay in training virtually all the time – he told me that ideally at this point in his career he would like to fight five or six times a year and never be out of training for more than a week. Only when he begins fighting 10-12 rounds would he choose to be in the ring less often.
One subject that Kolle brought up unbidden is MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) and the competition it’s providing for boxing. “Everybody’s worried about MMA surpassing boxing, but I don’t worry about that. MMA is bringing out the best in boxing.” His reasoning is that boxing promoters are learning from the popularity of MMA. The evidence, he says, is the unusual number of high-profile matchups we’ve seen in the past year – this is similar to the MMA model, in which popular, highly ranked fighters face each other frequently. This, Kolle points out, makes more compelling drama at the same time that it enhances the fighters’ popularity.
On another subject Kolle reveals a sense of humor. We discussed some of the popular boxers of the present day and some of the megafights of the past year, and he volunteered, “People ask what happened to Oscar De La Hoya against Mayweather (ODLH started strongly and faded)…they ask, ‘did he get tired?’ I tell them, ‘I think he got hypnotized!'”
Although in typical Minnesota style Andy Kolle is reluctant to talk about his wildest ambitions, he is willing to admit that he hopes to experience the highest levels of boxing. He says that he learned a lot about the business when he fought Andre Ward in April of 2006. He noted that Ward, the famous fighter with the great resume, was feted as if a champion but that as an unknown, “they kind of don’t treat you the same way.” He also admits that he wasn’t prepared for the news conference before the Ward fight, but says that he won’t make that mistake again. Something tells me that with his high level of commitment to the sport and his enthusiasm for his career, he’ll have other opportunities to get it right.
What’s next for Andy Kolle? As mentioned previously, he has plans to fight Troy Lowry in February and he’s hoping to do something bigger after that. He would also like to face fellow Minnesotans Anthony Bonsante or Kenny Kost, or both. But the truth is, he isn’t sure what the future holds – a boxer doesn’t always know what his managers are putting together for him. But of this you can be sure: the future holds big things for Andy Kolle, and for a boxer, big things are good things.