FightNews: Take us back to the very first UGC show, what was the idea for having it.
Charles: Wow, UGC I, it was back in 2001 or 2002. The idea for me was that I love fighting. I love boxing, MMA, muay-thai kick-boxing. So when I started UGC, I tried doing something different than the other organizations, something where people were going to see different specialties because I’ve tried all these different combat sports. I wanted to give something to the new generation a chance to fight. That’s what we’ve seen in UGC, many people are now big superstars, Bute, Dierry Jean, many big fighters starred in UGC, both boxing and MMA.
FightNews: Did you ever think that after the first one UGC I, that ten years you’d be seeing UGC 29 and still going strong?
Charles: For me, yeah for sure. I know for me in maximum two years I’m going to stop, I’m going to stop fighting. At that point I’m going to start concentrating putting UGC on the next level.
FightNews: So in two years we’re going to see more of Ali Nestor Charles the promoter and not the fighter
Charles: For sure, in two years, people are going to see UGC in the Bell Centre.
FightNews: I remember seeing your first fight as a professional boxer and you’ve down both boxing and MMA personally on your shows. How do decide? Do you wake up in the morning and decide in four months from now I think I’ll box?
Charles: It often depends on the opportunity. Sometimes I like to fight in MMA, sometimes I like to try in boxing. But for the past three or four years I’ve concentrated on my boxing because I’ve been given many opportunities to fight for championships, it’s not like MMA. In MMA, there is only really one, it’s UFC, everybody wants to fight to get to UFC, but in boxing we have more opportunities to fight for championships.
FightNews: There was a period there in your boxing career where you hid a skid and lost about four in a row. I know there was a really close decision you thought you won and a fight where you got severely dehydrated and had to retire, but ever since then you’ve carved out quite a nice career for yourself. Was there ever a point where you figured maybe boxing might not be the thing for you?
Charles: No, not really. There was a period where I was basically trying to do three things at the same time. I was trying to grow up my school, grow up my career, and grow up the UGC. Now I have people who work with me, so now it’s easier to concentrate on my training. A couple of years ago I did everything by myself, you can see now in the gym I’ve got people there working for me.
FightNews: I remember some of the early shows you seemed to be everywhere and doing everything. You’d be fighting that night but you’d be doing everything from taking tickets to unfolding chairs.
Charles: Exactly. I was doing everything. I remember one fight we did at Club Medley, I arrived at noon and stayed there all day, organizing tables, everything. I remember working with people to arrange and I saw my opponent all fresh and warming up. I just said fuck, I have to change that.
FightNews: What have been some of your best memories over the last ten years with UGC? What have been some of the highlights?
Charles: For sure the very first one. Some of the people who have passed through the UGC over the years. Lucian Bute, one of the best moments, he did a very good fight. We saw Eric Lucas at the show, I don’t know, there’s been a lot.
FightNews: Did you think you’d see things get to the point where Saturday it’s almost all boxing, do you have any MMA lined up for Saturday?
Charles: Only one. Seven boxing fights and only one MMA fight.
FightNews: Did you ever think you’d have such a show?
Charles: No, no, no. It’s a big surprise for me. It’s a good surprise, but it’s a big surprise.
FightNews: I’m sure the way boxing is now structured in Montreal with two companies revolving around two boxers, fighters and their managers must be coming to you trying to get work and a place on your shows.
Charles: Yeah, that’s why Tony (Luis) is with me now. When he was with GYM one year passed and he didn’t do nothing. That’s why his father came to talk with me and see what we can do. We’re a small organization but Tony did two or three fights and now many people know him. When he fought with GYM, they don’t do too much promotion for him, but in UGC, he’s a star. With Roody Pierre Paul you’re going to start seeing the same thing too.