Boxer Andy Kolle (20-2 with 15 kayos) is in the midst of preparations for the April 2nd rematch of his 2007 unanimous decision victory over Matt Vanda. The first time these two met was in the fall of 2007, when Vanda had a record of 37-4. Vanda has gone 5-6 since, while facing a high level of competition. Kolle has tallied 5 wins and 1 loss since that day, the loss coming to world-class competitor Paul “The Punisher” Williams and the most important win coming in a Minnesota middleweight title fight against then-champ Anthony Bonsante.
I asked Kolle why he felt that Vanda was the right opponent for him right now. “Vanda has done some great things since our first fight,” Kolle responded. “I told him after that fight that I would give him a rematch. It took a couple years, but I believe that this is the best Vanda has ever been and I want the challenge for myself!” As a boxing fan you might be thinking that Kolle should be facing bigger national names at this point in his career, and he has an answer for you. “I…want to stay busy and fight as much as possible, but unfortunately the national fights aren’t [as easy to make] as we thought they would be.”
The situation in which Kolle finds himself is a reflection of where he is in his career as well as his social status, identity, and geographical location. What nationally notable prizefighter would want to risk their career against an obscure but talented white Midwestern southpaw whose only two career losses have come in his only two televised bouts? Just the same, Kolle remains upbeat. “Training camp is going great! I have gotten a lot of great sparring in and I’m ready to fight right now! I feel great, hungry, and ready to repeat with another victory.” Kolle is equally positive about the outcome of the fight, declaring that “I am going to win! To me it doesn’t matter how, or what I have to do, as long as I walk away with the victory.”
Though reluctant to talk about what a win would mean to him, Kolle is happy to reflect on his progress since that first fight with Vanda nearly two and a half years ago. At the time Kolle was 15-1 but virtually unknown; a young college student, a part-time boxer, and a resident of Fargo, North Dakota. “Back then I spent a lot of time in the gym by myself training alone and trying to push myself. Since then I have moved up to Duluth and have become a legit full-time fighter. I am always in the gym training so I am always ready to fight….I was unknown at the time so I knew had to prove myself, and I went in there to beat him at his own game. I fought his fight, going toe-to-toe with him for eight rounds – that first fight made me grow a ton as a fighter and as a man because I knew after that fight that I could handle the deep rounds without any problems.”
Aside from Jason Litzau, who is busy asserting himself at the worldwide level, Kolle and Vanda are Minnesota’s highest-profile professional boxers right now. Accordingly, the fight is naturally getting a lot of attention – maybe more attention than usual. It’s all part of the resurgence of boxing in Minnesota. “I love being part of bringing the sport back to its prominence,” declares Kolle. “There are a lot of great fighters coming up in this state, and it’s only going to get better!”
One Minnesota boxer who is no longer on the scene is Kolle’s close pal, Zach Walters. The Jungle Boy announced his retirement in December after compiling a career record of 24-5 fighting out of Horton’s Gym. Though Kolle says he feels his friend’s absence in the gym, “I don’t let that affect me too much. When Jungle was in the gym we would push each other to the limits, so the only thing that really changed is that now I’ve gotta try and push that work ethic in othe other fighters so we can all grow together. But personally nothing much has changed; we still kick it – the only thing different is that he is back to his old self: not always tired and drained from training and cutting weight, so it a more upbeat vibe when he is around now. [laughs]
The Fistic Mystic says: Andy Kolle is a young veteran at the age of 27, an optimistic and upbeat figure in the paradigm of Minnesota boxing. Not only the standard-bearer for his home gym, Kolle is our state’s most self-intentional representative to the boxing world. If Kolle defeats Vanda for a second time, as I suspect he will, it’ll be interesting to see whether he can move on to bigger an better things while still preserving his Minnesota ties.