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Conor Benn: ‘The spite is hard to tolerate’

Conor Benn
Christopher Lee/Getty Images
I often think I should have stayed in Australia but my ambition is too great, says Conor Benn

MANAGING expectation because of my surname was a massive challenge at first. It was hard because I was young but you become used to it and you are constantly growing year-in, year-out. You’re learning about this thing called life as well as boxing. It happens. You grow and you learn and you push forward.

My dad never wanted me to fight. I don’t feel like I had to take this path whatsoever. That’s not the reason why I do it, I just love to fight and I’m not letting anyone take that away from me. I am not like every other boxer, there is more to my life than what’s in between those ropes. I am not spending my free time worrying about or criticising other people or trying to please everyone.

The reality is, you can buy someone a Rolex or a nice car and you’ll still get complaints about the Rolex being too big or the car needing too much petrol. Some people will never be happy and it is just the way it is.

Looking back at my debut, if I could have got a bit of advice, it would have been ‘not everyone is going to like or understand you’. People have every right to their views on me but it doesn’t make the criticism, hate and spitefulness that comes at me – almost every day – any easier to tolerate. I am just trying to be a nice kid but it feels like jealous and bitter people cannot control their hatred and spite.

If I am honest, if I could go back now, I probably would have stayed in Australia cooking on the barbecue with my dad, enjoying life and not having to worry. I do sometimes think I am mad for not choosing that life, I really mean that.

I think about it and I think it would be nice but I don’t because the ambition and drive and love of a challenge is so much stronger and exciting to me. But the critics really can drain away at your love for the sport, it can make you not enjoy boxing.

Conor Benn
Mark Robinson/Matchroom

I love the fighting, the fighting is the best bit, but those small sections of the public can hurt. I have sat there asking myself, ‘why am I here, doing this sacrificing everything for the entertainment of people who just want to slate me?’

My motivation goes way beyond the luxuries of life, it’s about being a winner and me achieving my full potential. It’s not about luxurious things and I think that comes from my upbringing because my dad had nice cars and I lived in nice houses, so what? That’s not the end goal for me. What do I represent and stand for? How good can I be? That’s the motivation.

Samuel Vargas will allow me to see where we’re at. He’s been in with the best fighters of our generation. He’s going to bring one hell of a fight but I believe I’ve got all the tools to put on a destructive performance. I’m a contender and I’m constantly proving that.

Touch wood I don’t have any injuries and I can get out three or four times this year; potentially a world title eliminator at the end of the year, a European title. The Amir Khans, the Kell Brooks. These are the sort of fights that I believe the public want.

Welterweight is a fantastic division, I think I’m in the top 15 in the IBF and top 10 in the WBA, so I will do what I need to do with Vargas and push on from there. I believe a world title eliminator is something that could very possibly happen this year. I’ve just got to win a world title once, just once, then I’ll be a very happy man.

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