Just four days left until he enters the boxing-ring again. It’s the final countdown in the build-up to re-apply as mid-weight champion of the WBU boxing association. Four days before the fight in Saarbrücken Prince Lorenzo, whose full name is Lorenzo Folly Kuegah, goes through one of the last training-sessions. In a rather un-glamorous location near the Cologne business-market for food.
Downstairs people are playing squash or badminton. Upstairs in the training-room Lorenzo Kuegah, a real prince in his native Togo, teams up with his Italian coach. Both have something in common. Humour and the extreme will to win. “How you’re doing?”, the coach constantly asks between the various sessions of boxing, jumping, and moving around. Lorenzo always responds that he’s fine. It’s a question of mentality. Of a perfect build-up. Of believing in oneself. And, in the case of Lorenzo Kuegah, of believing in God.
A few weeks before the fight, the 33-year-old addresses a few media-people, friends and fans during a conference – held in front of the restaurant, he runs together with his German girlfriend. “With the help of God I can achieve that”, he says. Meaning a long-kept dream. A fight in the national soccer-stadium of his home-country Togo.
It’s a long way to go. And a long way since the early beginnings. Prince Lorenzo left his beloved home. Went to France to study business-administration. But apart from the language there was not much that kept him there. So he decided to move to Germany. Again God helped him to find this place. With the catholic Cologne cathedral serving as a lighthouse.
Back to the gym: Prince Lorenzo, now joined by a second boxer, performs a few combinations of hits. Accompanied by deep shouts and straight into a boxing-bag that is hanging from the ceiling’s wooden beams. On the walls old press-articles allow a look back to the people who might have boxed here, too. Icons of the Cologne and German boxing-scene. One of the fighters sent the referee to the floor. A photo proves that.
Lorenzo is another type of boxer. More focused. Almost silent. So coach Maurizio Rinaudo plays the role of the ring-leader. “One, two. One, two”, he shouts. As always, in a mixture of earnestness and humour. Obviously, boxing is also about counting. Rinaudo doesn’t leave out a single hit. “That was one too much”, he states.
“Don’t move too fast. The referee wouldn’t see all those hits.”
“I’m very-well prepared”, Prince Lorenzo says in one of the short breaks. He’s sweating a lot, but still wears his full dress of sports-trousers and a white jacket.
As he came to Germany, Kuegah started to work as a waiter. Without knowing any German word, studying wasn’t an option anymore. So as always he was trying to change the changeable things. And then one day he met Cologne boxing legend Rolf Kersten.
“You’re not supposed to work as a waiter”, he said. “You are a boxer.”
And he was right. Today, Lorenzo Kuegah is all of the previous. A co-runner of an African restaurant. A business-man. A member of the local carnival-society. And, of course, a boxer. A boxer with a dream. And after the training-sessions he seems to be one step closer to it. One step closer to the next fight, he is for sure.