David Haye a.k.a. “The Hayemaker” is former unified Cruiserweight World Champion and WBA Heavyweight Champion Of The World. Now retired from boxing, Haye is still heavily involved in the industry, managing Dereck Chisora, commentating, and training his super-fit 12-year-old son, Cassius. We caught up with the boxing champ to talk about his legendary career in the ring and exciting new business venture; The Black Mask Company…
David Haye Interview by Ben Farrin
Thank you for your time, David. How have you been keeping over the summer?
I’ve been keeping super busy during lockdown developing and launching The Black Mask Company, a 30-time washable eco-friendly 3-layer face mask, and have seen an amazing reaction. Since launching the original mask we’ve since brought a new colour to market ‘Sky Grey’ and has been seen on the likes of Lewis Hamilton as he stepped onto Silverstone for the first time. But I’m currently working on some new releases and additional product lines so watch this space…
It’s not often we get the chance to interview a boxing world champ! Despite your power to punch and skills in the ring. Do you have a soft side – what scares David Haye?
You defeated Nikolai Valuev, the absolute giant in 2009. To put things into perspective he’s almost 7ft tall, weighs 150kg, and is a 51 shoe size! What was going through your mind on the build-up to this fight and when that bell rang before the fight?
I’d given the camp my all and left no stone unturned in the lead up to the bout. I walked to the ring with total confidence despite the odds being against me fighting on foreign soil. I had to stick to our strategy and keep focus, when you’re in a ring with the biggest World Heavyweight Champion in history you can’t afford to get hit!
What did it feel like taking his punches, considering he’s such a giant?
When you’re in the heat of battle you don’t consciously feel much. I do remember landing a punch early in the fight clean on his chin, one no other fighter would have been able to take and it didn’t even wobble him, it simply broke my hand!
Who do you think will win between Fury and AJ and why?
Both fighters have their strengths and both have developed so much in the last 12 months. AJ looked a different fighter in his rematch with Ruiz, likewise Fury looked a different fighter in his rematch with Wilder! It will be interesting to see how they have managed during lockdown – both are used to fighting regularly, it takes real discipline to train with the world’s handbrake on and no fight on the horizon.
You named your son Cassius after Muhammed Ali, train together and are both in exceptional shape! Am I correct is saying your boy is just 11 years of age and what plans do you and him have for when he grows older?
Cassius turned 12 in April – he is crazy fit! I encourage him to make his own plans and I will just support him in that journey.
He currently plays tennis for Great Britain, he loves it. He is a tennis Scholar at Reads School which is the best tennis academy in the country. His education experience is unique, his timetable is split between traditional learning and tennis training. He is incredibly fortunate but has trained hard and committed to the sport to get himself in that position.
We often only talk about the successes and ignore the fact how life must change dramatically for any sports person once they retire. What was it like for you from a mental health point of view after you retired?
Of course, it’s a period of transition, but one I prepared for when I was still fighting. I’ve always been in the ‘business of boxing’. I self-managed and self-promoted myself for much of my career and had an active role in broadcast.
I have tried to keep the structure to my days, I train every morning and then with the various businesses I run the days are back to back. I’m actually having to learn how to have downtime without the guilt, ‘retirement’ certainly hasn’t been pipe and slipper time for me!
If you could go back in time what moment from your career would you like to revisit and why?
I actually don’t think I would, moments are just that, moments. I try to focus on the current time and working towards my future goals.
You’ve been endorsed on LinkedIn 85 times for “knocking people out”. Who would you most like to punch that you haven’t already and why?
Can you tell us more about your boxing promotions business? You work very closely with Dereck Chisora don’t you, how’s things going?
I’ve managed and promoted a number of fighters over the years (including myself!) from turning over George Groves and Joe Joyce from Amateur to Pro, David Price, Willy Hutchinson to name a few.
Now I focus my time solely on heavyweight Dereck Chisora, who bizarrely I fought myself in 2012. We’ve worked together now for two years and it’s been a great journey. He is in the final stages of his prep for a huge battle against Former Olympic Champion and Unified Cruiserweight Champion Usyk on Sky Box Office on Saturday 31st October, the ultimate ‘Fright Night’. Derek is the huge underdog, be he has put in the work and is looking in phenomenal shape, he is set to surprise fight fans!
You’ve also recently set up a new business called The Black Mask Company. I’ve seen a lot of coverage online. Can you explain in your own words, what this business offers and why you started it?
As COVID-19 took a grip on the UK, I went online to purchase a black face mask only to find them either out of stock or with an extended delivery time. At a similar time, I caught up with a friend who is based in Vietnam, a country noted for its effective management of COVID-19 with zero deaths to date despite a population 50% bigger than the UK. As a nation they pulled on their experiences of SARS and Bird Flu and responded proactively. Shutting borders, closing schools and implementing a strict track and trace system so I looked to them for guidance.
The Vietnamese government commissioned a 3-layer cloth mask specifically for COVID-19 for their protection services to wear, known as The VP195 which utilises Nano-Silver fibre technology to maintain the masks anti-bacterial properties for 30 washes. I then worked with them to create a bespoke black design in a range of sizes to appeal to the Nation’s youth and bring The Black Mask Company to market.
You’re running a ‘back to school’ promo offer too, aren’t you – perfect for students who might want to buy masks with their friends. What makes your Black Mask Company masks unique to others that are available?
In the UK younger people appeared to be slow adopters of face masks, so I wanted something which appealed to them – these masks look cool and sleek, they’re comfortable and also make-up and sweat-proof which definitely appeals to a younger audience. More importantly, the younger generation is leading the way on looking after our environment, and my masks are reusable – you can wash them up to 30 times.
We’re loving the strap-line DEFEND YOURSELF. DEFEND OVERS. What would you like to say to people who don’t take wearing masks seriously?
As a nation we need to realise it’s not just about looking out for yourself, but also those around you, we have a collective responsibility to do what we can to curb the spread of COVID-19 so we can get back to business and reboot the economy, without a trail of disposable face masks left littering our streets.
For more information on The Black Mask Company, founded by David Haye visit: https://www.theblackmaskcompany.com/
For more information on David Haye visit: https://www.hayemaker.com/