EXCLUSIVE: Conor Benn talks Olympic run, turning pro and dad Nigel
Amateur fighter Conor Benn has more pressure on him than most to succeed in the sport of boxing, after all his father is one of the greatest British boxers of all time in Nigel ‘The Dark Destroyer’ Benn.
At just 17 years of age, Conor seems to be level-headed enough to know he has a long way to go to reach anywhere near the level of his famous father and has his aspirations in check as he knuckles down to some hard graft at his home training facility in Australia.
The talented Benn’s initial dream is one all good young fighters should have, and that is to get big tournament experience and eventually go for gold at the pinnacle of the unpaid ranks – the Olympic Games.
Claiming a medal at such events creates that buzz of excitement around a fighter that can be a springboard to success, with Benn not content to live off his father’s name as Rio beckons in two years.
“Right now, I am training hardcore for those Olympics in Rio,” Benn exclusively told World Boxing News.
“I am aiming to represent Great Britain as this is my dream, but first, I want to try to get at least 50 amateur fights under my belt before that becomes a reality.
“I’d love to represent Team GB if they take me on, but if I don’t get a spot on the team, then I would hope to go to Rio with Barbados from my dad’s background.”
Being based in Australia could hurt Benn’s chances of being selected for Great Britain. However, the talented youngster says he’d have no problem relocating to the UK if the opportunity arose.
“GB is my first choice, though, and If there were a chance I could make the team, then I’d come back to England in the blink of an eye, but a lot has to happen before then.”
As Benn puts in the time to perfect his craft, the one thing his world champion dad has agreed on is to keep away from his boxing for the time being, which means the two won’t cross paths professionally, at least until he drops the vest and head guard.
“My dad doesn’t train me simply because of our father and son relationship,” explained Benn. “We like to keep our distance when it comes to the sport, but he was the one I looked up to when I was younger, and he gave me the inspiration for the sport.
“As soon as I turn pro, my dad will be my cornerman and my manager.”
Despite his tender years, Benn has a single-mindedness regarding what he wants to get out of boxing, with the bright lights of the professional game, where his father made his own name, acknowledged as a big part of his future.
“I am planning on turning pro when I’m 20, so I have enough time to learn my trade and make it to the Olympics before I head into the pro ranks.
“I’m not a big fan of the amateur boxing style as when I get in the ring, I want to fight, and I don’t think there is enough time in three rounds to do what I have got to do.
“The professional side excites me, and when I do turn pro, I would love to work with Oscar De La Hoya and his Golden Boy Promotions. That would be great. But if not, obviously there are many other options, and maybe one day I can open a Big Bad Benn promotions with my dad, which is something we were only talking about recently.”
There is no doubt that the fledgling fighter has a good head on his shoulders, which he will certainly need as he attempts to make his way in what can be a cruel sport at times. Benn has focus and drives, which are traits that can be the basis of his future success, with the teenager rightly believing that having Nigel Benn as his dad will only serve as a help rather than a hindrance to his career.
CONOR BENN PRESSURE
“Sometimes I do feel pressure being Conor Benn, but then there are other times that I don’t as my dad achieved great things. I have to overcome that and be my own man. Yes, I have big shoes to fill and a big name to live up to, but if my dad says I can be better than he was, I trust his word.
“I know my dad never wanted me to box. But I have come to an age where it is my choice. He respects that and will support me all the way.
“I have got the power and the heart because, after all. I have got my dad in me. And I know he will keep me on the good side of the boxing industry and save me the heartache he had.”