Interview with Xavier Miller
by Kate Rosindale on Mar 03, 2019
Xavier Miller is the co-owner and co-founder of IQ Boxing, and head coach at Neasden IQ Amateur Boxing Club. He’s worked alongside many elite boxers including Derek Chisora. Here we talk to Xavier about his passion for boxing, and how he’s passing that passion on to the younger generations.
How did you fall in love with boxing?
My uncle got me into boxing when I was 11. He was always sitting watching different fighters. I liked watching two guys compete, I liked the ring, the rules, the art of it. Boxing News magazine was in black and white - I used to do a paper round and a car wash so I could afford to buy it.
How does Neasden IQ support the community?
A lot of young people come to the gym from different areas, and we get them into a safe environment. They learn all sorts of skills with us, and boxing is at the heart of that. We get the more senior ones to pair up with the younger ones. They build strong relationships and it’s a chance for the older ones to act as mentors. Then we’ll get the younger ones leading warm ups, which allows them to develop leadership skills too.
Are there any particular success stories?
Shaquille Johnson. I met him when he was 14. He used to get in a lot of trouble and was involved with the wrong people, then he found boxing and the church and changed his life around. Shaq has developed a maturity and a calm through boxing. He turned pro last year and is a coach for our junior class. He’s one of the best boxers around and you will be hearing a lot from him in the next 12 months.
How did you help Shaquille?
When I met Shaq I knew immediately I could have an influence on his life. At the time I was coaching at another gym, and I said to the head coach ‘Could you give him to me - I think he could be special’. Later when I talked about that time with Shaq he said the difference was that somebody gave him the time. That was all it was. Somebody giving him one-to-one time because they believed in him.
What makes a good student?
Good students are the ones who listen. Every mentor approaches teaching differently. I’m all about calm, repetition, encouragement. I tell my students, ‘If you don’t get it right, don’t worry, keep trying’. The best students are the ones who can actually buy into your philosophy.
And what makes a good boxer?
The most important characteristic of a boxer is that they behave like a fighter when the time comes. Boxing is the hardest sport in the world; there’s no other sport like it. There can be times when you get hit and you get hurt. It’s what you do at that moment that makes the difference. Having the mental capacity, the heart and desire to get back up and continue fighting - that’s everything. If you can do that you can do anything.
What boxing equipment helps your boxers be the best they can be?
We’re using Bravose boxing gloves because they are very, very comfortable and affordable. In today’s market it’s expensive to buy quality gear. You can spend hundreds of pounds on gloves, but Bravose are good quality for a third of the price.