You might have a tough time telling that to anyone who has met him in the cage, however.
“I’m like the biggest teddy bear ever,” said Giles, the Columbus Township resident who turned 23 Thursday. “People actually can’t believe that I go in there and change and turn mean.”
Giles, who trains at the Big Dog Boxing Club, is 20-2 as an amateur mixed martial artist. On Feb. 17 he’ll defend one of his heavyweight championship belts in Lansing, when he takes on Josh Parisian at the Causeway Bay Hotel. The bout will be part of the Capital City Cage Fight Championship.
The plan, he said, is to turn pro by the end of the summer, which puts him well on track to achieve his goal of one day making it to the big leagues, the Ultimate Fighting Championships.
“At the youngest, (UFC heavyweights are about 28), I think,” Giles said. “That’s the most dominant place for MMA. It’s all about the grind. You go to Bellator or King of the Cage and you have to grind it out until you get accepted.
“Basically, I’m in high school right now, and I’ll go to ‘college,’ like Bellator or King of the Cage. … I will get all the way. I will make it, because I want it that bad. I can’t see anything stopping it but me.”
Giles was brought to Big Dog by his former wrestling coach at New Haven, the late Bill Witgen, a little more than 3 years ago. At the time, he was fighting, but not training to be a fighter.
“I kept in touch with (Witgen), that was my coach. I looked up to this man,” Giles said. “He took me to this gym, and ever since then, he let me fly. I’ve grown since then.
“I told him about (fighting) and he said, ‘You’re fighting and you’re not training?’ He was upset, not happy about it. I knew if he put me (at Big Dog), it had to be something. He wouldn’t let me go anywhere where I would get hurt.”
Giles was a natural wrestler, finishing fifth at the Division 4 state finals at 285 pounds in his one year of wrestling. He prefers, however, to be a stand-up fighter. Training with James Smedley, a former professional boxer, at Big Dog, has helped him to hone that part of his repertoire.
“I love something about the knockout,” Giles said. “Every fighter has their own natural way they fight. (Smedley) pretty much takes what you have and adds to it, to what you can do. He’s got me this far. I’m still knocking people down.”
While he’s still knocking people down, and doing so at quite a rate, Giles said he still deals with nerves when he enters the cage.
“Sparring is, I don’t even want to say it’s the same as fighting, because you know you’re not going to get knocked out,” Giles said. “You’re uncomfortable, but you’re comfortable.
“I don’t care how many times you go into that ring, you have butterflies. It’s either me or him, and it ain’t going to be me.”