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Alexio’s secret of longevity: He doesn’t mind training

Steve Yingling

Very few 39-year-old fighters get the opportunity to box for a championship. Even fewer win that title.

By no means does Dennis Alexio fit into the typical aging process. The 39-year-old fighter from Honolulu, Hawaii, has been kickboxing’s world heavyweight champion over the past 11 years and there seems to be no slowing him down.

Incredibly, Alexio has won 68 of his 69 professional fights, including a mind-boggling 63 by knockout. He’ll put his championship belt on the line against Achille Roger on Friday night at the Sacramento Memorial Auditorium in Sacramento.

Despite Roger’s three career defeats, Alexio isn’t overlooking the Frenchman, who carries five more pounds than the champ on his 220-pound frame and has a distinct reach advantage.

“In all honesty, whoever gets out there is very capable, so I don’t ever look ahead to anyone else,” he said. “I’ve been on top for a long time and my motivation is to stay on top.

“Every fight I risk a great deal, but that’s what I thrive on. I like being in the ring; it’s my second home.”

A number of factors explain why Alexio has ruled the heavyweight division for so long. Besides carrying the intimidating presence of a knockout king like Mike Tyson, Alexio keeps himself fit like present heavyweight boxing champion Evander Holyfield.

“Fighters are scared before they even get into the ring with him because he’s so intimidating,” said kickboxing promoter Nasser Niavaroni, who has worked with Alexio for 15 years. “He has a killer instinct that I don’t see in too many fighters. Once he gets a guy hurt I haven’t seen a finisher like Dennis in kickboxing or boxing. The only guy I can compare him to is Mike Tyson.”

Moreover, Alexio doesn’t rely solely on his power and intimidation to win fights. He trains like he’s always the underdog.

“He’s a hard worker and he never cheats himself of training. He’s never been a part-time fighter; he’s always been a full-time fighter,” Niavaroni said. “A lot of fighters I know they work a job and condition for a couple hours a day. Dennis is training upward of six-to-eight hours per day.”

Although rumors suggest that Alexio’s fight career may end Friday, the 11-year champion’s comments indicate he’ll fight into his 40s.

“I still have a desire to continue on. I don’t quite recover as well as I used to, but what I don’t have in youth I have in ring savvy,” he said.

Interestingly, Alexio will earn $5,000 less than Roger for the title bout. Alexio has agreed to fight for free to help co-promoters Steve Sax and Niavaroni heighten interest in kickboxing in the area.

The 10-fight card begins at 7:30 p.m., with the Alexio-Roger bout tentatively scheduled for 9:45 p.m. Tickets will be available at the door or by calling (916) 782-4757.

Tahoe Daily Tribune E-mail: tribune@tahoe.com

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