Andrew Zammit (above left) and Coach Daniel Meza-Cuadra. Photo courtesy of WDTN Dayton, DMC Boxing
Nicholas Chandiles | Contributing Writer
Andrew Zammit, born and raised in Dayton, Ohio, plans on fulfilling his dream of representing the United States as a boxer in the 2024 Olympics. After securing his victory in the Last Chance Qualifier Tournament in Pueblo, Colorado, in early September, he has earned himself a spot in December’s Olympic Trials as a middleweight boxer. The trials will take place in Lafayette, Louisiana and will be held from Dec. 1-9 in the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s very own Cajundome.
Zammit has been training with Daniel Meza-Cuadra, a former Peruvian boxer and boxing manager of over 40 years. During his boxing career, he trained with the Peruvian National Team. Meza-Cuadra has trained three World Champion boxers and a plethora of ranked fighters, and in December of 2016 he opened DMC Boxing Academy in Centerville, Ohio, where talents such as Zammit and others have nurtured their skills. DMC has made such a profound impact on Zammit, helping him focus on his strengths while minimizing his weaknesses.
While his journey has been successful thus far, he has faced plenty of obstacles along the way. I conducted an interview with Zammit aiming to learn about his journey and the approach he plans on taking in the 2024 Olympic Trials to show the world he is the best.
Can you describe your journey to qualifying for the Olympic trials? What were the key moments and challenges you faced along the way?
A: For me the path has been nothing but adversity. Waking up early, going to bed late, and putting in blood, sweat, and tears every day. The biggest struggle was my grandpa dying right before the National Championship that I won that qualified me for the Olympic trials. He was the closest person to me and my biggest supporter. My coach and I also had to deal with a lot of sickness, injuries, and other things life seemed to throw at us all at once. I promised myself I would go to the tournament and knock my opponents out and bring the medal back for my grandpa, so I did it. For me it was never about the Olympics, it was just about proving a point. For myself, my coach, all the people no longer here to see it, and for everyone that counted me out. I almost didn’t get to go due to injury and only had ten days to train as hard as I could since my last injury. It wasn’t an easy path but I know I am the best and I have the best coach so I knew and still know we will win it all.
Has your training regimen changed since beginning to prepare for the Olympics?
A: No. For me I don’t train so much for a specific fight or event but more for life. It’s my lifestyle to train and maximize everyday already and it will stay that way. The only slight difference is having zero personal life because all my time goes into training and sleeping.
Olympic competition is on a global stage. How have you adapted your fighting style or strategy to compete against boxers from various countries and backgrounds?
A: I have not. I grow and get better every single day, but I will not change myself for others. I make myself the center of everything, and I do what I want in the ring. And my opponents do what they can until I knock them out.
In the lead up for the Olympic trials have you ever had to make any sacrifices in your personal life or daily routine to maximize your training and preparation?
A: I’ve already set my life up in a way for me to maximize my success every day. However, for this, I had to isolate myself even more from any normal type of life to make sure every second of every day is productive and used to its fullest extent.
What strengths or unique qualities do you believe set you apart from your competitors in the boxing ring?
A: My ambition and work ethic is like none other. I am obsessed with progress and nothing outside of fighting interests me in this life. My sole focus is being the best. Also, I have one punch knockout power that many people believe you’re born with so you either have it or you don’t. Most people go to just “win the game,” but all I care about is knocking them out and finishing them.
How do you handle nerves and anticipation leading up to a big match or fight? Do you have any pre-fight rituals or routines?
A: I just understand that fear and nerves are a part of life, and you only grow when you are uncomfortable. That feeling will always be there when you do anything of significance. But I know with experience I will learn to deal with that better every single time. I also do the exact same warmup routine every single time, listen to the same music, and even cut it off about the same time before the fight each time as well.
Can you share a memorable or defining moment from your boxing career that has shaped you as an athlete and brought you to this point in your career?
A: I started off my amateur fights with all knockouts until my 7th fight when it went to decision where I was robbed by the judges. I had out landed him and knocked him down multiple times. I realized that day how rigged and biased boxing can be. My grandpa told me to never leave it up to the judges or referee ever again. I rematched him right away and knocked him out, stood over him, and told him exactly who I was. He was probably asleep so couldn’t hear me, but the crowd went crazy and it set the tone for how the rest of my fights would be from there on out.
What message or advice do you have for aspiring boxers who dream of one day representing their country at the Olympics?
A: It’s going to be a very hard path but life is a marathon, and if you never quit you can achieve anything. Life is full of loss but it’s about taking the lesson from each thing and growing and it will build you into a person that can accomplish anything you set your mind to.
Finally, what are your long term goals in boxing beyond the Olympics, and how do you plan to continue evolving as a fighter?
A: My long term goals are to show the world that I am the best. I will win world championships in the middleweight up through the heavyweight division. The belts don’t mean anything to me though, I just want to knock everyone out and show I am the most dangerous fighter in the world, and to be remembered forever.
Andrew Zammit has earned many accolades early in his career, and he will continue to succeed in this year’s Olympic Trials. The combination of Daniel Meza-Cuadra’s expertise and Zammit’s natural talent should assure fans that he is no joke. The loss of his grandfather coupled with his determination to be the best boxer in the world leaves viewers with no doubt that he will accomplish great things in Lafayette later this year. His drive to leave his opponents crippled instills a fear in competitors like no other.
As Andrew Zammit steps into the Olympic Trials in Lafayette this year, he carries with him a lifetime of dedication, sweat, and sacrifices. His heart will beat with determination, and he is ready to showcase his skills on this prestigious stage. Regardless of the outcome, he is poised to leave an indelible mark on the sport, inspire others, and pursue his Olympic dream with unwavering resolve.