If someone used to work in McDonald’s and their nickname is “The Sauce” you may not necessarily expect them to be a 6ft 5in lean, mean fighting machine.
But in a few weeks’ time Lawrence “The Sauce” Okolie will box for a world title for the first time.
“I’m going to be bringing that world title back to Britain and I’ll be bringing it back to Nigeria.”
The 28-year-old was born and raised in London but has parents from Nigeria: one Yoruba and one Igbo.
“It’s a massive part of who I am and why I am the way that I am. My parents always said to me that when it’s time to go back, go back with something.
“God willing I’m able to win my next fight, it’s like now I’m a world champion there’s more pulling power and more stuff that I can actually accomplish.”
In the build-up to the fight on 20 March, against Poland’s Krzysztof Glowacki for the vacant WBO cruiserweight crown, Okolie and his friend and fellow boxer Joshua Buatsi joined me on This Is Africa for a chat about their love of afrobeats, the classic tracks they grew up listening to and the heavy-hitting tunes that get them through tough training sessions.
“If I’m doing a long run, I know reggae music’s the one for me,” says Buatsi, an Olympic bronze medallist who was born in Ghana’s capital, Accra, before moving to the UK when he was nine.
“But it has to be a live version. I can’t listen to the ones done in the studio. In the boxing gym, when I’m working hard, I love the American artists. Gunna, Lil Baby – the rhythms and the beats they put together and the flows over it.”
Okolie adds: “I think it [music] is part of every training session of mine.
“Hours every day, it’s music. Most athletes would say music is one of the most important things.”
For every boxer one of the toughest musical choices comes in the form of that all-important ring walk.
But when you write and record your own rap tracks, like Okolie, maybe it’s not so tough after all.
“I feel like, if I’m going to walk out, I might as well motivate myself and walk out to my own sound.”
If “The Sauce” becomes a world champion later this month, you may end up hearing more of his tasty lyrical flavours.