Strictly wait and see: Harley Benn interview
Paul Zanon speaks to prospect 3-0 Harley Benn about his famous father, Strictly Come Dancing rumours and why he will end up at welterweight...
BM: No boxing nickname as yet?
HB: Not as of yet.
BM: Amateur experience?
HB: None. I had no amateur experience at all. Not one amateur fight. All my boxing has been done at professional level. The first time I stepped into a ring to fight was live on TV, as a professional. It was really nerve racking. I’m still learning on the job. Because I didn’t have an amateur career, we never really knew what sort of weight I was going to be. I started off at super middleweight, which is far too big for me. My first opponent, I remember taking a few shots off him and thinking, ‘This guy hits hard!’ I ended up getting a stoppage in the second round, partly because I felt I didn’t want to take any more of his punches! My last fight, I made the jump down from super middleweight to super welter and I felt very fit and comfortable. It was my best performance by far. From seeing that, I’d like to almost forget my first two, because there’s such a difference. I’ll end up at welterweight.
BM: To what extent are you in contact with either Conor or your dad [Nigel]?
HB: I’m not at the minute. They both wind me up massively! In the future, who knows, but I can’t read the future, so, who knows.
BM: Your mum [Lisa Andrews] is very close to you wherever you go. How much of a driving force has she been in your life both inside and outside the ring?
HB: Massively. When I was a teenager, about 16 or 17, I was an absolute nightmare child. I didn’t have boxing in my life or anything like that. I was going off the rails completely and if it wasn’t for her I probably still would be. She’s be a massively supporting role in my life, always has been and always will be. She’s a big driving force behind the boxing. She’s a very big percentage of the reason why I do it.
BM: You are currently 3-0 and fight on 6 July at Walthamstow Town Hall. How’s training gone and do you have a confirmed opponent yet?
HB: Training is going really well. [Benn had literally just come back from a six-mile run, banging out seven-minute miles]. Don’t have an opponent confirmed as yet. Should find out next week.
BM: I believe you’ve had a hypnotist [Stuart How] brought into your camp. How has that helped?
HB: I believe in hypnotherapy. Like most things, in order for it to work you have, you have to believe in it. I’ve only had two sessions, but I’ve noticed the difference already. My optimal performance is noticeable changing. It’s certainly helped. I’m excited to work with Stuart throughout my career.
BM: Tell us a bit more about the team you work with. Who trains you and who manages you.
HB: Lenny Butcher trains me at Five Star gym in Romford. He’s a great trainer and has taken the likes of Lee Markham to the English title. Frank Warren promotes me and Andy Ayling manages me.
BM: Rumours of you competing in Strictly Come Dancing 2018?
HB: Potentially…maybe…on the cards! This is down to my mother this! Not sure when and where. We’ll see.
BM: You fancy your chances on the dance floor? Can you shake a leg?
HB: I’m a great dancer! There’s no way I’m doubting my ability at all. If I’m going on it, I’m winning it, definitely!
BM: If you could spar three rounds with any past boxing legend, who would it be?
HB: Sugar Ray Leonard.