Johannesburg (South Africa) – Norman ‘Chef’ Wessels, legendary former heavyweight champion, re-enters the Hexagon after an absence of nearly two years on March 27. Ahead of facing Chris Du Pont he gives his first interview in over a year, and shows that the ‘Chef’ is most definitely back, and more fearsome than ever.
Tell us briefly how the blood disorder that has kept you out of competition has affected you, and what you’ve had to do to get back to health.
No, that has no relevance at the present moment in time. My close family and friends know what I have been dealing with.
Have you had to manage your weight cut differently as a result?
Everything has needed to change. I eat once a day; mostly soft boiled organ meats. Nutrients and recovery are key. I feel strong and perform which is also the general feedback from my teammates. My weight is on point.
Du Pont has said that he’s a type of wrestler you’ve not contended with before. What have you been focusing on in your training?
I am not concerned with his opinion and no, I have not recently “wrestled” someone like him that thinks he is a high class wrestler and isn’t because clearly I am surrounded by incompetence. My focus is my intention. Period.
What was your impression of Du Pont after his video interview some time back?
I have not seen the video. I heard the banter in the gym. Blah, blah, “teach me a lesson”. I invite him to hurt me and make me bleed. I welcome the opportunity. That’s where I live.
He was happy to disregard your experience and reputation. Mistake?
He can do whatever he feels like to convince himself that everything will be OK. I am sitting here on my pile of rubble and ashes waiting to drag him underneath.
What’s your estimation of him as an athlete?
He is young, eager and has an awkward physiology. Most likely fit. His game is rounded. I have not considered further.
Where is he dangerous?
I have not disregarded any potential scenario that we could find ourselves in.
You’ve been out of competition for nearly two years and been through a journey in getting back to competition. Do you see yourself as having evolved? In what areas?
I have embraced my age. I am more mature and level-headed. I have grown and learned with all the new young blood in the gym while keeping in touch with FFM fundamentals, so shame on me if I have not evolved or learned from my past mistakes.
Is ring rust a concern for you?
When it comes to the Hexagon, yes. The feel, the smell, the size, the lights, the crowd around it – yes. I have been working on using those energies at my disposal. When it comes to physical and mental confrontation, no.
Would you say Du Pont has a weak chin, or just made a big mistake in rushing Maphutha?
I am not concerned with his chin but he has made a few mistakes already, before we’ve even started.
What does this return to the Hexagon mean to you?
I am glad to be doing what I am good at. I am happy for the opportunity to express my intentions.
And the title shot that’s yours, if you win?
It will be foolish of me to look past the task at hand as I can only dictate my performance on the night – not winning, losing or title shots. Where I am in my life right now I will embrace my opportunities as they come.
Any words for Du Pont?
No words for Du Pont. In his heart and mind he knows what is waiting for him.
Any words for the fans?
For the fans, I am humbled. Thank you.
EFC AFRICA 28, presented by BetXchange.com, takes place on Thursday 27 March 2014 at the Coca-Cola Dome, Johannesburg. Tickets on sale now at www.computicket.com. Book your cinema ticket to all 13 fights live and in stunning HD at Ster-Kinekor.com – available in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban.