In a KSW heavyweight title reign that’s impressed fight fans across the globe, Phil De Fries has crafted a reputation for producing sensational performances, all while eating pizza and overindulging in beer.
With palpable charisma and an explosive style, the Sunderland fighter has become one of the most popular operators in the sport. He’s even gone as far as winning over the Polish combat sports enthusiasts, who’ve spent the last few years watching him dismantle their greatest fighters.
On June 15, the 37-year-old will defend his championship belt against Szymon Bajor at KSW 84 at the Polsat Plus Arena in Gdynia. And throughout the build-up, he’s amused the public with his antics on Twitter, posting pictures of himself staring at pizza and videos of him debating drinking raw egg before opting for a refreshing beer instead.
Speaking exclusively to Sporf, De Fries laughed: “I’ve never said it, but this is the best I’ve ever felt. I feel like everything’s been going good. I’ve been training well; I’m just too fat. That’s the only thing. Too fat. But apart from that, I’m happy.
“I don’t give up the food. That’s the problem. I do train hard; I just love my food and my beers on the weekend, but. I’ll make the weight easily enough.
“I also think a pint of beer is better for you than drinking raw eggs. Drinking raw eggs, you’ll die.”
But while the powerhouse enjoys a laugh and a joke, he’s worked exceptionally hard for this moment, doing his utmost to add another scalp to his already impeccable record.
In his last outing, he defeated a ghost from his past, rendering Todd Duffee unconscious inside the opening round.
Phil De Fries’ KSW reign means the world to him
Since signing with the promotion in 2018, he’s become a beloved figure in the European nation, capturing the hearts of fans from every corner of the country. Thus, it comes as no surprise that he loves them just as much as they love him.
The athlete beamed: “Oh yeah, it’s great. I would hate to be famous, you know, full-time famous, I think, it would drive me insane. I’m quite a private person, but it’s nice to just be famous on your holidays. It’s like, ‘I’m famous now; everything is great’. It’s a bit of an ego trip. I think it’s nice to meet people and take photos. But it’s also nice to get left alone. So I go home, a little bit well known and come here to be famous.”
He continued: “I think they’re warming to me now. I think I handle myself well. I’m respectful. Most of the Polish love beers too. I think I’ve developed my fanbase. There’s not any animosity, and I love it. I slap loads of hands on the way in. I’ve started to learn Polish. I want to be an honourary Pole soon.
Having worked out how to say ‘breakfast’, De Fries is enjoying learning the language, and he’s already set his sights on becoming fluent.
De Fries claimed: “Next fight, I’m going to be speaking Polish. That’ll be in 5-6 months. I can get by in the shops now a little bit now, just not when I’m on the spot.”
KSW have given Phil De Fries the platform to showcase his ability
Having shown loyalty to KSW, the company recently rewarded their champion with a watch. Alas, he doesn’t have a clue how to set it.
He chuckled: “I brought it with me. I’m wearing it now. I’ve spent ten minutes, but I just cannot set it. I don’t know how to do it, but. You must have to have a master’s in engineering. So, it doesn’t really tell the time. But it’s a nice bit of jewellery.
“I Love it out here. The stadium is always full. The pay is good. It’s just a good life over here.”
While fighters often claim their sport is far more mental than physical, De Fries has proven beyond all doubt that he’s truly a genius of the game.
Coming up with an interesting defence mechanism, he tweeted: “OK, I spend the next three years stretching my ball sack with progressively larger discs. As I walk into the octagon, I pull my giant sack up and over my head, making all strikes against me illegal. Become p4p god and redefine how combat sports are fought forever?”
Reminiscing over his drunken idea, he asserted: “Oh yeah. I mean, why not? Why can’t you do that? Who’s to say what you can and can’t do? Somebody actually asked, ‘How are you gonna defend leg attacks’? I replied, ‘Elongated foreskin’. And that took off as well. So every time someone likes it, elongated foreskin pops up on my Twitter.
“Yeah. I try and have fun when I can. You gotta laugh sometimes.”
Phil De Fries opened up about his road to KSW
While the man who stands before us today is boisterous and intimidating in equal measure — in his younger years, he suffered from bullying.
Speaking candidly, he explained: “Well, I wasn’t very popular at school, and I got bullied. Sunderland is quite a backward city. It’s by shipyards surrounded by mining communities. Being a bit hard got you respect.
“My aspiration when I was younger was to be like all these hard men around town. So, that’s why I started. It’s quite pathetic, really. I Should have aspired to be a doctor, lawyer or something. But I was getting picked on, and I just wanted a bit of respect. I never had too much respect in the house, so I thought that I should go and get my respect.”
As he got older, De Fries started working at a needle exchange, and the experience changed his life forever.
Phil De Fries has jumped over every hurdle placed in his way
The 265-pound beast remembered: “People come in on heroin, amphetamines or b***dy steroids or anything. We wanted to help them take the drugs safely. I really enjoyed my time there. It’s a good job.
“I tell you what, you meet some very good people, who just fell on some hard times. You meet. Some absolute s**t bags too. But it can happen to anyone; you’ve got to be careful.”
He added: “I’ve had alcohol issues myself. Sometimes I feel like my life’s been a flip of a coin. I could have been a crackhead or a b***dy smackhead myself. I’ve been down in the gutter. If somebody said, ‘Do you want some Smack, I’d have probably said ‘Yes,’ then it can spiral. Nobody’s safe. You’ve got to keep your head good, or anything can happen.”
In a life that could’ve headed in any direction, De Fries is a shining example of the things that we can all achieve. Instead of going down the wrong path, he focused on his craft and became one of the greatest fighters on the planet. And with such a personable aura and a positive story, he’ll be remembered for a long time after his excellent career eventually comes to an end.
Featured Image Credit: KSW