Feature | Issue | Premium | Oct 20 2019

Conor Benn and the long shadow of his famous father

Conor Benn speaks to John Dennen about his roller coaster ride through boxing
Conor Benn
Action Images/Andrew Boyers

THE name matters. Without it a boxer who’d had a handful of amateur contests in Australia wouldn’t have been ushered into a pro debut immediately before Anthony Joshua’s first world title fight. Without it he wouldn’t have had that kind opportunity, or the kind of scrutiny and criticism that duly followed. Being Nigel Benn’s son and embarking on a career as a prizefighter has been a wild ride. And the 22 year old is only 15 fights in.

“I was boxing in sheds, out in the sticks in Oz. Where we have all the Huntsmen [spiders] and the funnel-web [spiders] and the brown belly snake, the blue belly snake, all of them. So coming here and having my first fight when I moved back to England, I’d had no amateur fights here, my first fight was at the O2 Arena, right before AJ, so it was overwhelming. My whole career’s like that. I have to pinch myself sometimes,” Conor Benn reflected.

But it is nerve-wracking. “When I get in the ring, I’m fine. The ringwalk’s fine. It’s just when I’m in the changing room and it’s all quiet and five minutes [to go] and I’m saying my last prayers. Then I go out and then that’s it,” he says. “You ain’t got no choice. You got to. It either makes you or you crumble. That’s who I am as a person, giving it a crack, what have I got to lose?

Conor Benn
Conor Benn has gone straight into a pressurised professional career Action Images/Andrew Couldridge