INTERVIEW SERIES: (BOXER) MPONDA KALUNGA
Updated: Nov 15, 2019
Q: Where are you originally from? What was it like growing up and what brought you to Canada?
A: I was born in Alexandria, Egypt. My father took me and my 3 sisters out of Egypt when I was 3 years old because it was not a safe place to live at the time. There was a lot of political and religious battles going on. We then ended up in Tanzania as refugees where we spent 7 years in the refugee camps. Growing up in Tanzania was fun. Although we were in a refugee camp, I felt free exploring the nature around me. My friends and I went hunting and set traps for birds and small animals that we could catch for food. Life was about survival, making the most of what we had and sharing. After 7 years in the camp, we were eventually rescued by the Red Cross and brought to St. John’s, Newfoundland.
Q: Where does the nickname Egyptian Prince come from?
A: The Egyptian Prince comes from my Egyptian heritage from my mother’s side. When we left Egypt, my mother was left behind and I’ve never seen her again since then so the name is in her honour.
Q: What got you into boxing
A: My first time watching a boxing fight was in 1996 when we were still in Tanzania. All the refugees were gathered around a small tv watching Mike Tyson vs Botha ‘the white buffalo.’ I remember seeing how special that moment was to everyone in the camp and when Tyson knocked out Botha, everyone celebrated with so much joy. I wanted that kind of glory, the same as Mike Tyson had brought to everyone. When we were brought to Newfoundland in 1999, I had a hard time adjusting cause I didn’t know anyone or understand the culture. Some kids tried bullying me so I was always fighting. I never was able to explain to the teacher that I didn’t start the trouble so I was moved around to different schools. I then walked in a boxing gym one evening and the rest is history. No more trouble.
Q: What age did you start training boxing?
A: I started training at 16 years old at hard tack boxing.
Q: How has boxing impacted your life?
A: Boxing has shaped me to who I am by giving me discipline and confidence. It’s an amazing lifestyle for my body and mind.
Q: Where do you see your boxing career going in the next 5 years?
A: I see myself becoming a world champion. I don’t want to look too far ahead cause I believe in focusing on the present moment and doing what I can from day to day. The rest will come.
Q: If there is anything in the last 5 years you could have changed, what is it? Would you change it?
A: I wouldn’t change anything because it is through the life I’ve lived that I am able to look back at each experience good or bad and recognize what it’s taught me. All of it is my life, it’s made me who I am.
Q: Has your family always supported you in your boxing career?
A: My family never had a choice cause once I put my mind to something, I don’t stop till I get it done. Over the years, they’ve come to understand that I really love boxing and support my decision. In the end I’m fighting for all of us.
Q: What has been the most difficult moment in your career and how has it impacted you?
A: I don’t think that moment has come yet, although I have 2 loses on my record. I appreciate them because they’ve made me a better fighter. I have no excuses. I learn from everything and move on.
Q:What message do you have for anyone starting out in boxing?
A: If the person wants to be a fighter, than they have to dedicate themselves completely to the sport and live it. Nothing of worth comes easy so they should be ready and willing to outwork everyone everyday. Confidence comes from doing the hard work and knowing you’re ready. If they’re just boxing to lose weight or get in shape, then they have made the right choice. Boxing makes you better in every aspect.
Q: Outside of boxing you're a member of Matata 6, what has that experience been like for you?
A: Music is and has been a big part of my life since I was a child. My father is a musician. I grew up hearing his stories about travelling the world with his band Air Fiesta Matata and seen him writing and performing his music. It’s a completely different craft then boxing but the same because it’s always about timing and feel. Music gives me a different way to express myself.
Q: Is it difficult to juggle being a musician while boxing or in a training camp?
A: Music actually compliments my boxing. I don’t see them as separate entities. They’re one for me because I’ve been doing both for so long. They’re all means of expressing myself. I love to improvise and lose myself in to the groove.