Senior Boxing Journalist @JamesDielhenn
Prograis vs Taylor: Hurricane survivor Regis Prograis aims to avoid disaster against 'Tartan Tornado' Josh Taylor
"I wouldn't be here right now if it wasn't for Hurricane Katrina"
Last Updated: 21/10/19 9:20pm
They say that the curse of the Rougarou lasts for 101 days. The affected person is human by day, and monster by night.
"The Rougarou is a werewolf - half-man half-beast. It lives in the swamp in Louisiana. It is like the boogeyman," Regis Prograis tells Sky Sports.
After 101 days the curse can be transferred, so they say.
"It is folklore. Some people say they've seen it but I don't know how. If kids don't go to sleep they will be told: 'the Rougarou will get you'."
Sightings of the mythical creature are rare and whispered but Prograis, the WBA super-lightweight champion, will bring its spirit into battle against IBF champion Josh Taylor on October 26, live on Sky Sports Box Office.
He is nicknamed 'Rougarou' and will resemble it when he walks to the ring by wearing a tribal mask and a headdress. Prograis has never heard of the Loch Ness Monster but there will be two beasts inside the ring when he fights Scotland's Taylor.
"He's more like a wee gremlin," Taylor bit back. "He looks like he belongs under a bridge."
New Orleans' Prograis is of Creole descent and carries his Louisiana roots everywhere he goes, not just in the form of his Rougarou outfit, but also in the mammoth tattoo on his torso.
His home city is clearly spelled out across his chest alongside a set of numbers.
"That's the date my life changed," he said. "At first, for the worst. But then, for the better."
Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005, killing 1,833 people and leaving over a million more homeless. Prograis and his family were caught up in it.
"When the storm hit I was 16, in high school," he remembered. "Everybody had to leave town. The whole city flooded. The whole city was a lake.
"People were stuck in the city for two weeks without water and food. It was bad, it was really bad."
Over a $100 billion worth of damage was caused, and the aftermath of Katrina required international response.
"Kanye West went on TV and said what he said," Prograis recalled. His family were forced out of the state in search of safety.
"I started boxing aged 16, right before Katrina. Then the storm hit and I had to move. We went to Houston, moved around to Mississippi, went to Slidell then back to Houston.
"In Houston I really started, aged 17. My mindset changed and I started training with champions like Evander Holyfield and Juan Diaz and the Charlo twins. So much talent. I thought: 'damn, I can be like them'."
That's why Prograis, now an unbeaten world champion seeking to unify the division and win the final of the World Boxing Super Series, believes that the hurricane spurred him on. From devastation, his dream grew.
"I wouldn't be here right now if it wasn't for Hurricane Katrina."
The date of the disaster, and an image of his home city of New Orleans, is permanently marked on his body and remains the source of his determination.
Astonishingly Prograis and his family would endure more bad luck with hurricanes.
Two years ago Harvey decimated Texas. Prograis was at the eye of both of the costliest tropical cyclones on record.
"Harvey hit two years ago on the weekend of the Floyd Mayweather vs Conor McGregor fight," he said. "We had a fight party at my aunt's house but got stuck for six days because it flooded."
To be the best, you gotta beat the best... 👑👑— Sky Sports Boxing (@SkySportsBoxing) September 15, 2019
💥@RPrograis v @JoshTaylorBoxer is No.1 v No.2, it's champion v champion 🔥
📺 Watch this @WBSuperSeries final & Chisora v Parker live on Sky Sports Box Office on October 26th! pic.twitter.com/G1MGzCrNS8
There is something about these storms which brings out the Rougarou within Prograis. Months after surviving Harvey he obliterated Julius Indongo for his career-best win. Less than a year after Harvey he became a world champion, back home in New Orleans.
But still the storms come, and still Prograis is caught up.
After surviving Katrina and Harvey, he now faces 'the Tartan Tornado'.
"I've never dealt with a tornado but we'll see," he smiled.
Taylor replied: "Well, he'll be in for a disaster, then…"
Regis Prograis vs Josh Taylor, Derek Chisora vs David Price, Lee Selby vs Ricky Burns, Lawrence Okolie vs Yves Ngabu plus Conor Benn on Saturday, live on Sky Sports Box Office.