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Sports Life Stories

  • Episode: 

    8 of 8

  • Title: 

    Carl Froch
  • Transmission (TX): 

    Tue 14 Apr 2015
  • TX Confirmed: 

  • Time: 

    10.00pm - 11.00pm
  • Week: 

    Week 16 2015 : Sat 11 Apr - Fri 17 Apr
  • Channel: 

  • Status: 

    Last in series
The information contained herein is strictly embargoed from all press, online and social media use, non-commercial publication, or syndication until Tuesday 7 April 2015.
Episode 8 - Carl Froch
“It’s an incredible story and it’s been an incredible journey of somebody who just finally got a bit of belief in himself, wasn’t overly confident when he started the journey, got that belief through hard work and dedication, and then just reached for the stars and got there.” – Rob McCracken, Carl Froch’s coach.
The eighth and final episode of this series of Sports Life Stories traces the career of Nottingham fighter Carl ‘The Cobra’ Froch, a British favourite and four-time world champion in the super-middleweight division.
With contributions from Carl’s coach Rob McCracken, former champion Barry McGuigan and Carl’s partner Rachael Cordingley, Gabriel Clarke follows Carl’s journey from his boyhood following Nottingham Forest, to winning the ABA middleweight title in the late ‘90s, turning professional in 2002 before going on to world title success.
As well as his career, the programme focuses on the highs and lows in Carl’s personal life. It explores Carl’s experiences as a child with a father in prison, occasions that nearly saw his career come to a premature end, and the shifts in perspective that have come with having a family of his own.
Returning to his home town, Carl recalls the atmosphere of his first amateur boxing club. He says: “I came through those doors there, had a look around the gym, I could smell the sweat, the blood and the tears. A nasty smell it was back then, but it’s a smell now that I enjoy.”
Starting out as a nervous and neurotic fighter, it wasn’t until Carl met his current coach Rob McCracken that he began to see real success. Commentator John Rawling says: “I think Rob McCracken knows what makes Carl tick. He understands him as a man, he understands him as a fighter, and they get on tremendously well, they’re like brothers.”
The duo enjoyed an unbeaten record until Carl’s first fight against Mikkel Kessler in 2010, which he lost on points. He called for a rematch within days of the loss, and in 2013 the two sold out the O2 Arena in London packed with 20,000 fans.
Carl considers beating Kessler the second time the defining fight of his career. He says: “I could feel the nerves, I was feeling the fear, so I was loving it.
“I’ve shared 24 rounds of boxing with that man. Gentleman, warrior, tough man he is. I’ve hit him on numerous occasions, but he just licked his lips, smiled at me and came back for more.”
The mutual respect he shares with Kessler is not something Carl says he has with his most recent opponent, George Groves.
Not satisfied with a controversy-clouded first victory against Groves, Carl was hungry for the rematch that the IBF ordered within 90 days of the initial fight.
The pair met again at Wembley Stadium in May 2014 and despite being knocked down by Groves in the first round, a single powerful blow from Carl stopped the fight in the ninth, meaning he retained his IBF and WBA world titles.
The rematch was the biggest boxing event in Britain since the Second World War, attracting 80,000 fans.
Carl says: “The genuine needle in that fight, the genuine rivalry, made for what was the biggest fight in British boxing history. It takes two to tango, I needed a dance partner and George Groves was just that.”
Relishing the victory, Carl’s relationship with Groves is infamous in the boxing world. He says: “I wouldn’t choose to try and be his friend, but there’s no hate in it. I exorcised my demons when that right hand landed on the jaw... It was the most satisfying punch I’ve ever landed.”
Carl’s record is impressive with 33 professional wins - 24 by knockout - and two defeats. He says: “My ability to take a punch is known in the business as the granite chin – I wouldn’t say it’s something I’m proud of or I rely on, but I am proud of it, and I rely on it. If you’re a professional fighter you want the green and gold belt - and I’ve got two. I’ve got all the ones that mean anything. It sounds like I’m showing off but I’m not. I fought very, very hard for them.”
Aside from his career, Carl is staunchly loyal to his home town. Still a huge fan of Nottingham Forest, he has held many of his fights in the city. Talking about life at home with his family, Carl has experienced a change in perspective from his days as a young fighter: “When you’re training you put yourself first, but since having Rachael in my life, and having Rocco and Natalia my two children – I don’t come first any more, I come fourth, I think.”
“When I box now I do think about injury, where before I’ve never cared less about injury… I have moments with my daughter and with my son that no fight can replace or give me.”
Legendary ex-fighter Barry McGuigan predicts that Carl’s name will go down as one of the best fighters in history. He says: “It’s only when he retires that people will look back on his career and think, ‘Wow, did he really fight those guys one after the other?’ Yes he did, and he beat them.”
Carl is clear about the way he wants to be remembered in history. He says: “That’s a man who will fight anybody, anywhere in the world - take them on and do himself proud.”
On being influenced by Prince Naseem Hamed
Carl Froch: "I used to often go into the changing rooms and think, 'Oh God, I've got to go and [fight]. What if I just don't come out, or what if I just disappear out of the door?'
"So in my head I was thinking about running. It was against everything natural for me and for a human being to stand and fight. It's fight or flight. In boxing, you've got to fight, you haven't got the option, you can't run off, you can't go home.
"I was still playing at it, very much didn't really want to fight. So I stopped boxing.
"Prince Naseem Hamed, and people laugh when I say that, he was my inspiration for getting back into boxing. He brought that element of excitement. His arms would be down here, he would be sticking his chin out, and finding a big uppercut, and he used to land it. 
"It used to look spectacular and the crowd would go mental, and he used to land two or three more shots, then he would do a little dance. I was never into the dancing and the gloating, but I loved the style - the low hands. And I fight like that myself now."
On the fight he wanted with Joe Calzaghe
Commentator John Rawling: "Remember Calzaghe at that time was an established superstar and Carl Froch was still to a large extent under the radar."
Coach Rob McCracken: "He didn't see it as a big enough fight at the time, obviously Carl and we saw it differently."
CF: "That was a fight I wanted. He was WBC champion, everyone knew who he was. It was a massive fight back then - I think it would still be a big fight now. I think Joe Calzaghe knew that I was going to beat him."
Barry McGuigan: "Calzaghe might have been too clever for him, but it would have been a hell of a fight, and it's a pity that didn't happen."
On his first fight with George Groves
CF: "I didn't do the training I should have done, I didn't get stuck in, I cut corners, I cheated."
CF's mum Carol Weatherbed: "I used to have a go at him, and shout at him and tell him off and say, 'You aren't training for this fight.' And he would say, 'It's alright, he's a bum, he's nobody.'"
Barry McGuigan: "He [Froch] had dropped him [Groves] in training. He had hurt him several times in previous sparring sessions and he hadn't taken into account that maybe Groves had got better. And I have to tell you that George Groves is a world-class puncher."
Series overview
Featuring top names from Olympic gold medalists to Champions League winners, the award-winning Sports Life Stories series focuses on the lives of iconic sporting figures.
Each of the eight episodes in this returning series tells the tale of a sporting legend, allowing each individual to open up about their careers and personal lives, and giving a vivid insight into how the impact of their achievements can reach into people's lives.
This series features:
Footballer Peter Shilton
Cyclist Chris Froome
Athlete Paula Radcliffe
Footballer Andy Cole
Athlete Linford Christie
Footballer John Barnes
Rugby player Jason Robinson
Boxer Carl Froch
Contributions from well-known friends and admirers illuminate the lives and work of the subjects and provide a close view into what drives them to succeed in their careers.