Photo: Monaco Boxe
“It’s like when you have a basic Ford pickup or something, and then you step behind the wheel of a Formula 1 Sports Car. It’s that big of a difference.”
This was the reply of German heavyweight 3-0 (2 KOs) Christian Thun when asked what it was like sparring the WBC Heavyweight Champion, Deontay Wilder. “He’s very, very fast and accurate. He makes everything count. Hands down the best sparring I have received.” For Thun, training in Alabama wasn’t the first destination on his list, or second or third for that matter. He had his eyes set on more electric places such as Las Vegas or Miami. However, after turning down offers from other major promotional powers and aligning with JSUGE promotions, he has come to be very pleased with his choice. He admits that by training in Alabama there are benefits that simply cannot be matched, mainly the ability to be up close and personal with the reigning WBC Heavyweight Champ, Deontay Wilder. He ranks his work with Wilder as the best he has had so far. And he would know—as he has spent extended time (sparring and training) with some of the best heavyweights in the world including Anthony Joshua, Wladimir Klitschko, Luis Ortiz, Manuel Charr, and Gerald Washington. Joshua, with perhaps he’s spent the most time with of them all.
He recalled a time when he lived near the ExCel in East London and snuck in the building to see Joshua fight. “I literally lived around the corner from the stadium from where the Olympics were being held,” he remembered; he even pulled up Google maps for proof. I can confirm that he did indeed live around the corner from the ExCel.
“When I found out Joshua was fighting there I had to watch him,” he said. Watching Joshua in the Olympics was one of the many times he would see him as they both climbed the ranks. He would see Joshua on many different occasions as an amateur, never getting the chance to fight him due to Joshua always being a class ahead, but still keeping a close eye on him. Thun respectfully admits seeing Joshua's rise through the ranks has been a constant source of motivation.
Of his own amateur career, he has fond memories. Closing out his time as an amateur with a more than respectable record of 49-6, it all began in the famous Peacock Gym in London, the one-time home to fighters like Lennon Lewis and Frank Bruno.
Currently standing at 6 foot 8 inches, Thun recalls fighting much older men at the age of 15 due to him appearing to be twice his age. For him, going to the gym was more so about self defense, and not so much about pursuing a career in boxing. He says the moment he walked in he knew the gym would become an important part of his life. He continued to improve and saw his dedication pay off. His unusual height at such a young age meant he was often sparring fighters much older and more experienced than him. Fast forward to today, and Thun is steadily increasing his profile and getting adjusted to life as a pro fighter. Much of which is facilitated by his head coach, Dave Godber. When asked what he thought of Christian when he first arrived, Godber quickly responded with deficiencies in technical skills and fitness. The latter of which a hard lesson was learned early on. The story goes as follows:
Thun had just landed in Birmingham, AL at night. He was hungry and tired. He would find a pizza and eat it before going to sleep for the night. After sleepily finishing the pizza, he got up to brush his teeth before laying down for the night. While in the bathroom, he heard a loud cracking sound; it was Coach Dave. He had pushed the door open to find Christian. Not pleased by his food selection, he would take Christian to complete a brutal HIT (High Intensity Training) drill late into the hills of the night. By Thun’s own words, he was “pissed.” Pissed enough to where he gave his coach the silent treatment for a few days. He soon realized the importance of his coach’s harsh lesson, and was eventually appreciative. “I see where he was coming from,” Thun recounts. “If you’re not giving 100 percent to the sport, why even bother.”
When asked about his goals in the sport of boxing, Thun quickly answered, as if the question were something he contemplates often. “Top 100 by the end of the year,” he responded. “I want to be ranked in the top 100, and if not in the top 100, close to it by the end of the year. I also want to recreate the “Boris Becker Syndrome.” (The phenomenon of when young German tennis player Boris Becker quickly rose to the top of the sport, and as a result had massive amounts of youth interested in the sport.) “I want to bring back a love of boxing to Germany and Italy,” two cities he BOTH claims as his home town due to spending similar amounts of time in both.
The subject of Boris Becker also interestingly ties into his next goal.
“I also want to manage and help fighters,” he said. “I want to help guide them through their careers. Especially early on. There are so many pitfalls that I avoided and I want to be able to do the same for the next generation.” Becker reportedly amassed at least $63 million dollars over his career, but still declared bankruptcy in spite of his massive earnings. A classic and all too common cautionary tale of top level athletes.
Thun has been able to get a glimpse of some of the highest levels of boxing due to his talent. And by all by all accounts, he plans to use his insight to help his travels in the sport of boxing be a little more smoother.
*Upon the completion of this article, I recently spoke with Christian about his most recent, third professional fight. He said it was “a tough, but very valuable learning experience.”