If you don’t know two-time world snooker champion Mark Williams by sight, you could mistake him for a boxer. He’s burly, and could pack a punch or two, if you messed with him.
Ironically, it was the fear of being punched too often that made him give up boxing, and take up snooker to slake his competitive instincts.
“I nearly went down that road. I had 16 proper fights. In the last one, I took just too many punches on the face, and I decided to go down the other road.”
“But, I still watch the sport. (Floyd) Mayweather is probably my favourite,” reveals the Welshman, who upset World No.2 Mark Selby in the second round at the Indian Open on Wednesday.
Williams speaks gently, but still possesses the aggressive attitude of a boxer. While admitting that he didn’t want to play Selby this early in the tournament, the 38-year-old says he believes that his opponent would have thought the same.
“I’m a tough match for anybody. I could beat anyone,” says Williams, in a matter-of-factly way. The former World No.1 oozes competitiveness, as he recounts his exploits on the badminton court against some fellow snooker professionals the previous evening.
“They thought they would beat me, but I ended up thrashing them all. I used to play a little bit, years ago,” he says.
Williams hasn’t won a snooker title in more than two years, but the drought is hardly his biggest worry. He says his three kids are at the forefront of his priorities, and reveals that he doesn’t enjoy travelling anymore, which limits his schedule.
But there’s no doubting his legacy.
The Welshman was the first left-hander to win the world championship, with current World No.1 Neil Robertson becoming the other member of the club in 2009.
Williams is a colourful character as well, exemplified by his dry humour and love for tattoos.
The cueist has more than 20 items of indelible art on his body and, as he claims with a chuckle, many of them lie in special places!