The cage is not all that bad: ‘Ziggy’

Is it brutal, is it thuggery, is it pure madness? Would you allow your son or daughter to enter a caged fighting arena, where two people enter, the door is locked, and they get stuck into it?

There doesn’t seem to be too many rules, it looks like a ‘street fight’, and the only rules I can see are, you’re not allowed to bite!

Last Saturday night, Narooma’s and the Eurobodalla’s only registered cage fighter Brandon Zielinski, won his third cage fight in front of a sold-out audience at the Liverpool Whitlam Centre in Sydney.

The win takes Brandon’s cage fighting record to three fights, three wins, and he has been ranked as the #1 contender in Australia/NZ out of 59 active fighters in the Featherweight division.

I caught up with his father, former Narooma boxing trainer and promoter Mark “Ziggy” Zielinski, and asked him his opinion on the sport of cage fighting and his son’s involvement.

Stan: “Ziggy, cage fighting seems to have taken over boxing in Australia, what do you say to that, and do you like this sport

Ziggy: “To tell you the truth, I hated cage fighting. To me, there seemed to be no ‘Sweet Science’ like boxing, it looks like a street fight, and when their buggered, they go to the ground, and it looks like two lizards having sex.

Boxing has lost its shine in Australia, too many fixed fights, corruption, and the audience is amazed at a lot of the decisions, for example the Mundine vs Green2 fight, Mundine won the fight hands down, and the entire country seen that”.

I think from a marketing perspective, cage fighting’s climb to the top has been perfect timing, it comes at a time when boxing has been found ‘wanting’.”

I think if you look at the demographic of the cage fighter audience, it’s a much younger audience, trendy, fitness conscious, and I haven’t seen an audience so enthusiastic, since the days of Jeff Fenech or Kostya Tszu.”

Stan: “So how do you feel about your son Brandon cage fighting when you’re a boxing man”?

Ziggy: “Well my son Brandon has always been difficult, and has his own mind. He didn’t fit in with the School system of education, and dropped out of Narooma High School at just over 15.

We were lucky enough to keep him out of too much trouble in his school days, but we realised we could face new hurdles when he dropped out of school.”

We are fortunate enough to be business owners in Sydney, so I stuck him into an apprenticeship, to keep him focused, and he thrived. To occupy his after work hours, he started doing grappling, Jujitsu, and ring MMA, of which he did okay at, winning 50 per cent of his tournaments.”

He liked this type of fighting, and against my wishes, he joined Australia’s leading cage fighting gym ATT, and has been paying to be taught to cage fight, by what I am lead to believe are the best in the business.”

I haven’t been over supportive of his cage fighting to date, I have tried to deter him from it. I didn’t go to his first two fights, I sat by the phone waiting to hear that he walked out of the cage not injured. He asked me to go to his third fight, said it was important, so we went.”

When I think about it, since dropping out of school, he is now six months from completing his apprenticeship and he purchased a block of land in Narooma last year when he turned 18. I would have to say, to accomplish this, he had to stay on track, and cage fighting has been a big part of keeping a young man focused in life and resisting life’s distraction.”

Instead of only thinking of himself, these days he seems to be more level headed, a bit ‘big headed’ though and he does think of others. This was evident in his last fight, he wore pink into the cage, and donated all his fight money to the Breast Cancer Foundation.”

So to answer your question, it’s hard to watch being a father, but the cage has been good for him, and I can see it’s benefits to youth. It’s becoming the boxing of old, when troubled youth would box in PCYCs, giving them a focus in life, keeping them occupied and out of trouble.”

Stan: “Can you see cage fighting being adopted by the PCYC?”

Ziggy: “Definitely. At the moment, you can see it sneaking into the PCYC gyms. Cage fighting has a ‘stigma’ attached to it, so from what I see, the PCYC is not promoting its involvement, but in time, the PCYC will have to evolve, and cater to what the kids are interested in. Unfortunately, with the decline in boxing, cage fighting is the next big thing for our youth.”

Stan: “Brandon is the #1 Contender in Australia/NZ in his weight division, what’s his next step”?

Ziggy: “He’s very excited about being #1, and so he should be, he has put a lot of hard work into the achievement. He’s talking about a title fight in the near future, I have advised him to take his time, get some more experience before fighting for titles.

Sometimes it is easier to win a title than to keep a title. With 59 active fighters in his division, there is a lot of depth there, with a lot more experience than he has. I’m hoping he has a few more fights before fighting for the title, then he will have a better foundation, to defend as champion, if he wins.”

I am involved a little with the Narooma Boxing PCYC, and for some time, they have been talking about doing a boxing promotion in the PCYC and Narooma Sport and Leisure Centre. It hasn’t come to fruition as yet, it will though, who knows, there might be a chance of combining a promotion, boxing and cage fight in the future in the Narooma Leisure Centre?”