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'Prince' Charles Martin talks Anthony Joshua, hip-hop alter-ego, getting shot and boxing return
Last Updated: 29/08/18 12:30pm
Walk this Earth like a god? ‘Prince’ Charles Martin came back down to Earth with a bump. Now, writes James Dielhenn, he has resurfaced with even bolder predictions.
The former world heavyweight champion who nicknamed himself after royalty and dressed as an English monarch has lived a bizarre existence since he was knocked off his throne by Anthony Joshua, his 85-day reign condemned as the second-shortest in history, a mere footnote already forgotten as the division goes into overdrive.
It has taken two years to track down 'Prince' Charles Martin during which time he has travelled the world, shunned the spotlight, survived a shooting and started a hip-hop career.
Can't nobody take that from me. I'm my own personal god.
"People may go against my belief but, at the same time, you've got to be a god. For real, that's how you've got to act, period," Martin told Sky Sports.
"Can't nobody take that from me. I'm my own personal god."
Martin's self-belief has not waned since his disastrous night at The O2 in 2016 when his IBF belt was taken by Joshua, who claimed his first world title. The defending champion couldn't back up his sensational proclamations about "walking this Earth like a god", falling inside two calamitous rounds, but he regrets nothing.
"It comes from believing in yourself, loving yourself. Before [someone else] can love you, you've got to love yourself. That's something you've got to develop, know what I'm saying? Find it within yourself. Can't nobody teach you that. Look at yourself as somebody special. I'm spiritual so I'm my own god. In boxing it's important to be yourself. Be you.
"Not even just boxing, just for confidence. On this Earth people will put you down and try to break your confidence. It's a hard world. You've got to make the best life for yourself.
"People just give up on their life to work a 9-5. That's them, but I'm not. I want to be something special and I've got to have the upmost confidence to do so. I've got to have more confidence that the average person."
The spiritual and introspective Martin isn't your average boxer, or your average interviewee. His comeback will not be average, and nor was his reaction to the high-profile defeat that still defines him.
"I travelled to see my momma in Alabama. Momma gives you a talk."
He took a gap-year from boxing, a ghetto kid always desperate to expand his horizons, and posted social media snaps saying "loving my life" from Brazil.
"I always knew that boxing was for me, but I needed a break," Martin said. "My whole career from the amateurs to the pros was back-to-back-to-back and I never had any time off. I wanted time off, period.
"I did everything in a short amount of time, and was fast-tracked through the amateurs. Bam, bam, bam - fight after fight after fight. It was crazy. In the pros I had 11 fights in one year.
"But I haven't missed a step. I'm still that same guy - but better, sharper and tightened up."
A Soundcloud link appeared, and still exists, on Martin's Twitter bio highlighting Gorgeous Villin, his hip-hop alter-ego. He looks the part in trademark gold chains with a tattoo saying "above the law". Gorgeous Villin is worth a listen although he won't be sticking around.
"I was just doing that as a hobby. You know that you can't do two things at one time. When I was out, I was doing music. Now I'm back in boxing I've dropped that. I don't have time to do two things at one time."
There was concern last year when Martin made headlines for the first time since losing to Joshua when he was the victim of a drive-by shooting. He survived to tell the tale and has an anti-gun message to spread: "It's important for our communities. Stop with the gun violence. They're glorifying it but it's nothing to be proud of."
He won't detail the incident but insists that it hasn't changed his positive outlook.
Martin, now 32, has unfinished business inside the boxing ring. Once a prospect at 'All-American Heavyweights', a state-of-the-art California programme designed to reignite the USA's Olympic hopes, Martin failed to make the 2012 Games where Joshua won the gold medal.
But 23 unbeaten pro fights led him into an IBF title bout, months after the belt was stripped from Tyson Fury. The southpaw Martin won when Vyacheslav Glazkov injured his knee in the third round. Eighty-five days later, a period only bettered by record-holder Tony Tucker who ran into Mike Tyson, Martin's world title was gone.
His comeback a year later was alarmingly low-profile. Martin beat journeyman Byron Polley at an obscure Mississippi casino, and wasn't even the main-event. He has since won again, somewhere random in Louisiana, totalling less than three rounds. He has boxed just 12 rounds since April 2015.
"I had two fights in 2017, know what I'm saying? Tune-up fights," he said. "I got what I needed from them.
"It was just what I had to do, before going back up to the big leagues. It's a process, that's all. Absolutely I have enjoyed every minute. The training is hard but it's worthwhile, to get me to where I want to be. I'm going back to get my belt back."
Finally the Joshua fight is properly addressed. It is still a sore subject for Martin who won't make excuses but also insists he didn't do himself justice.
"That wasn't a fight," he remembers. "I don't consider that a real fight, man.
"He never saw me. That wasn't no Charles Martin. People don't know…
"That's why a lot of the people that were with me, aren't around me now. Dumb decisions cost people their jobs.
"[The experience] was cool. It didn't go how I wanted, because of things that happened during the process. It wasn't perfect, for sure.
"I'm smarter now. I don't do the things that I used to do. I'm better at decision-making, I'm wiser, and I'm older. That's the key.
"Yes, I'd come back. There's good people [in the UK], absolutely. I don't have no regrets."
Martin subscribes to the theory that defeats can make a fighter better: "I believe so. That's true. You've got to face things to grow them from.
"I had to find a new team, know what I mean? The people I was with weren't all for the team so I switched people, and got a new stable. Now the team has good chemistry - we click, we vibe.
"I'll work my way back up. It ain't no thang but a guarantee."
Martin is training in Big Bear under Henry Tillman and Jeff Mayweather, sparring Joe Joyce, and will fight Adam Kownacki next month at Brooklyn's Barclays Center in a substantial step-up for his comeback. Joshua is on his mind, but Martin has nothing to say to him.
"Absolutely not. We'll talk in the ring. We'll let our fists talk."
And with that, Martin disappears into the remote Big Bear wilderness, genuinely thankful for an interview that was two years in the making. He'll probably resurface, but maybe he won't. Either way, 'Prince' Charles Martin will continue to walk this Earth like a god.