Most people would feel a sense of accomplishment after reaching the green with a tee shot on a par-5, but the emptiness Rowan Campbell felt after achieving the feat confirmed to him that he belonged elsewhere.
Campbell had been locked in a long-standing argument with his dad about whether to pursue boxing as a professional and a round of golf at Mount Edgecombe in Durban turned the debate on its head. Egged on by the caddies on the course that day, Graeme Campbell decided to push his son to join a golfing academy. Rowan humoured his dad until the end of the first day.
“When I saw the people at the academy and saw their determination, heart and focus towards golf, all I could think of was doing that in boxing,” says Campbell.
“For me boxing was fun and everything but I was missing the heart. That trip to the academy encouraged me even more to become a boxer.”
But the fight wasn’t won. Graeme gave Rowan an ultimatum – he promised to fund one year of boxing only if Rowan managed to complete an IT course.
“It took me a little bit longer to complete that qualification. I think it was a two-year course but it took me four years to complete it.”
But Graeme was only won over after seeing Rowan in the ring – first in one of his only three amateur fights and then in his first professional fight. By that point Rowan’s mom, Pat, as well as trainer, Peter Smith, were pushing the boxing agenda.
“I didn’t want my dad to come see me fight. I was very immature at the time and thought he shouldn’t be there if he didn’t support me but he changed his mind.”
Campbell fought three amateur fights before turning pro in 2016. He’s had 11 fights since then and remains unbeaten.
The 26-year-old, who took up mixed martial arts and then boxing as a teenager in a bid to lose weight, had to make a lot of sacrifices to maintain his level of boxing. He may be a Melville resident but he’s not about to walk the strip like most 20-somethings would.
“I got it all out of my system a long time ago so I am content being at home now,” says Campbell. “If I do take a walk, it’s to get food at the restaurants but nothing more. I partied hard a long time ago so I’m over it.”
These days Campbell spends his days honing his skills or working for his trainer in another gym. He chows down on high-protein meals and shakes and carries very little body fat – a far cry from the slightly aggressive, chubby teen who went looking for a combat sport to help shed the weight and channel his anger.
Campbell is the South African and African middleweight champion with dreams of fighting abroad and in heavier weight classes.
He’ll fight Nicholas Radley at the 4@War event at Emperors Palace on November 30 in a 74.8kg catchweight contest.
(Accredited By SuperSport)