As a competitor, as a professional, and as a human being, I have tried to do my best to fulfill these responsibilities. I’ve tried to treat people with respect. I’ve tried to demonstrate the importance of hard work and sacrifice in achieving goals. I have lived by the code that, if a job is worth doing, it should be done properly.
Now, in retiring, I hope to transmit the message, particularly to young people, that the fundamental character traits of integrity, discipline, and respect translate into a reward worth more than any purse.
I am proud that I have the luxury of ending my career on my own terms. This should serve as a real life example for other boxers and professional athletes. Boxers, like all athletes, must realize how important it is for them to understand every aspect of the business dealings that surround them.
I am excited about the suture of boxing. I know Vitali Klitschko is disappointed that we won’t be facing each other in the ring again. But the challenge before him now is the same challenge that I faced years ago; to become the best heavyweight of his generation. I look forward to watching Vitali, Corrie Sanders, and other boxers compete for that honor.
This is a time of reflection for me, but also a time of gratitude. A champion is not made in isolation. I owe so much to my Team, which has been led for many years by my Mum, Violet Blake. One lesson she taught me is that it is easy to be around when everything is going well, but that true loyalty and love are expressed and revealed during hard times. The lessons I learned from her have served me well over the years and kept me grounded. And my respect for her has continued to grow as I’ve matured and come to understand the sacrifices she made to help me.
I’m also fortunate to have been surrounded by an amazing group of people, many of whom put their own lives and the lives of their families on hold to help make me a better person and a better boxer through their loyalty, encouragement, and support.