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Conor Benn; from Privilege to Pure Power…

Conor Benn chose to do boxing the hard way and hasn’t stopped since!

Photographer Hamish Brown

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Writer Jack Figg

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Stylists Lacie Gittins & Alana Newton

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Creative Director Keith Waterfield

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Video Director Dan 50 frames

Despite growing up in a life of privilege, Conor Benn chose to do boxing the hard way, and hasn’t stopped since.

The 25-year-old welterweight is now on the cusp of a world title shot, having smashed his way to the top of the division with explosive power and an unrivalled work ethic.

But a life of fighting at one point in Benn’s life seemed unthinkable, having grown up not truly knowing the extent of his father’s legacy.

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‘Don’t listen to people you wouldn’t go to for advice’

Dad Nigel, Britain’s beloved two-weight world champion, raised his children in a luxury mansion in Majorca.

It was only when the family moved to Australia that Benn first picked up the boxing gloves – but for no reason other than having some experimental fun.

“I wanted to have a couple fights for bants, so to speak,” he says while explaining his decision to first start boxing.

What may have started out as a bit of amusement soon turned into something serious as Benn won 20 of 22 amateur bouts while living in Sydney.

With the family boxing genes clearly running strong and a ready-made marquee name to fill arenas, Benn returned to England at 19 to turn professional.

But it was a stark contrast to the Spanish and Australian sunshine and suddenly he found himself up at the crack of dawn every morning to start his day at the gym, often in the cold.

It is only now in reflection Benn questions – why as the son of a millionaire boxer – was he waking up earlier than everyone else and working twice as hard?

“It’s mad because people haven’t got a clue,” he says.

“The times where I had to get up at 5am and get the train from Henley Road in Ilford and walk to the train station, catch the train at 6am and then train.

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‘I made no excuses at all; I wouldn’t let anything get in the way of what I wanted to do’

“So many fighters these days wouldn’t do that and it’s mad to think that I did for quite a while. And I don’t know why I did.

“It’s mad, you look back and think, ‘Man, why did I do that?’ I see so many people today not in the position I was and they’re not willing to do that.”

Benn’s drive and dedication soon separated himself from the rest as he found himself determined to succeed.

“I made no excuses at all; I wouldn’t let anything get in the way of what I wanted to do.

“I was just so confident in me reaching my full potential, whatever that is, as long as I reach my full potential, I’ll be happy. And I just made sure that reaching my full potential was the case.

“Even now, forget the public for a minute, whatever your full potential is in anything, if you want to give it a go, give it a go and as long as you reach your full potential, you should be happy.

“It doesn’t matter what anyone else said because at least you gave it a go, and that was my outlook on it.”

Despite Benn’s clear ambition and will to work hard, it was not all plain sailing for the son of a legend.

Having been thrust into the limelight, with relatively little amateur or pro experience, he found himself on the end of harsh criticism, especially by anonymous online trolls.

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‘a raw novice who was terrible, to now being top five in every governing body and knocking out everybody’

“It wasn’t the pressure of being Nigel Benn’s son that ever bothered me. What bothered me was the pressure to perform,” Benn remembers.

“And that’s just why I don’t really like people, to be honest. Because, looking back I was a 19-year-old kid, and they were slagging me off on social media.

“And loads of people do it, even some that I know will comment like, ‘Yeah, you see that person, he’s an absolute wally.’

“I’m just like, ‘Well how do you know he’s a wally? How do you know? What do you even know about him or his life?’

“They know nothing, yet they’re going to go and write on Twitter; ‘You are this or you are that.’ It’s like mate, grow up.

“People like that are where they are because of that reason, I would never sit on Twitter and troll someone that I don’t even know.

“No one who’s doing better than me or equal would comment that, it’s always people that have nothing positive going on in their own lives that would do that, try and bring people down.”

Benn reveals it took him around four years to block out the negativity.

“You harden to it, which isn’t a nice thing, but you do harden to it,” he says.

Benn has emerged as a role model to all boxers coming up in the game, proving hard work truly can take you to the top.

And he is also a priceless advisor to the likes of Campbell Hatton, who is also in the unique position of entering the sport with a weight of expectation.

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‘That’s it. Everyone else can do one.’

Campbell has championed the advice given to him by Benn, who reveals what he told the 21-year-old youngster from Manchester.

“Don’t listen to people you wouldn’t go to for advice.

“And don’t listen to critics, don’t listen to no one, it’s all noise. Nothing matters, what matters is what you think, your team thinks, your dad thinks and your trainer.

“That’s it. Everyone else can do one.”

Benn is now a staple in the Matchroom Boxing Gym in Romford, headed up by coach Tony Sims.

It homes to world champions, contenders, prospects, and even amateur hopefuls, but Benn offers the same advice to them all.

“Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.

“I think hard work and consistency is so important and that’s probably the key things; consistency, activity, patience.”

Trainer Sims himself has taken Benn – in his own words – from a struggling upstart to must-see world title contender.

And Benn credits his cornerman for his stunning career transition and the stable he has created in his Essex base.

“We are all mates in the gym but it’s about time Tony gets the recognition he deserves,” he says.

“Look at what he’s done for me. You’ve now got Joe Cordina who’s a world champion, you got Felix Cash, John Ryder, so many other fighters that are coming through.

“My career really does some up Tony as a trainer – from a raw novice who was terrible to now being top five in every governing body and knocking out everybody in unbelievable fashion.

“You have to give Tony credit for that.”

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‘They’ve all got two arms and two legs, whoever the bigger name is’

Benn’s journey to a welterweight crown continues with an expected return in September or October.

An opponent is yet to be announced, but one thing is for sure if Benn has his own way, it will be against an exciting adversary.

“I hate boring fights. You know when it’s on TV, and you’re like, it’s going to get good in a minute, it’s going to get good in a minute.’

“But then it doesn’t, and you think I’ve just wasted 36 minutes of my life.”

Benn is in the gifted position of sharing the division with current pound-for-pound stars in Errol Spence Jr and Terence Crawford, while also climbing the ladder with upcoming talents like Jaron Ennis.

A potential fight for the ages with Chris Eubank Jr – 30 years after their dads’ rivalry – has also become a sensational reality.

But Benn, who has 14 knockouts in his 21 wins, refuses to be picky when accessing his options.

“They’ve all got two arms and two legs, whoever the bigger name is, the more money is at,” he says.

Benn has aspirations to secure the big titles and paydays, to help set up the future for his family, wife Victoria and son Eli.

But having raced to the top in no-nonsense fashion, through hard work and dedication, the in-form fighter is adamant he will know when to call it a day.

“If it’s a financial basis, I don’t think you can ever be content, because you’re ambitious.

“But you don’t want to stay in the game getting beat up, punched in, I value my health a lot more.”

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