Stabbed and shot - and now I want a heavyweight title

By Eleanor Roper
Newsbeat reporter

Published
image source, Getty Images
image captionDillian says this Saturday is one of the biggest fights of his career

"I won't be the first and I won't be the last, sadly."

Boxer Dillian Whyte's talking about being stabbed and shot as a teenager in London, when he was "a crazy kid running around doing crazy stuff".

On 24 March he's headlining at London's O2 arena where he's fighting Australian heavyweight Lucas Browne.

The 29-year-old has had 23 professional fights and only lost once, to Anthony Joshua in 2015.

image source, Getty Images
image captionDillian last fought on the undercard of Joshua v Takam in Cardiff in October 2017

Dillian will walk out to the sound of Back in Black by AC/DC.

"That's my jam. I'm back in black and I'm black," he tells Newsbeat.

"It's a big deal [headlining at the O2] but every single fight of my career has been a big moment because it's all been leading up to this.

"I've been swimming against the wave my whole career."

Dillian grew up in south London where he got into trouble and was even stabbed and shot.

"Inner city kid in London, these things happen all the time. I won't be the first, I won't be the last, sadly," he says.

"It's a moment of my life where I was a little bit lost, I was a young child and I never had any direction."

The boxer says he was a "good boy" at home but when he walked out the door he was "a completely different person".

"I got into trouble a few times and made some bad decisions but thank God I'm here and I'm living and I'm healthy."

Dillian credits boxing for changing his life and giving him a sense of direction.

"I finally channelled the aggression and stuff I had, which I didn't know what to do with.

"I channel it into boxing and know that with that aggression, I can do something positive instead of doing crazy, silly things with it."

Four young men were killed in London on New Year's Eve, one of them in Tulse Hill, not far from where Dillian grew up.

"A lot of these guys do things that they don't understand or that they don't necessarily think about. I was one of those kids, I'm not gonna lie."

And a lot of the trouble stemmed from boredom.

"At that time they closed the local parks, closed the local youth centres so I was just on the street.

"I never had anything to do and then you're bored and think: 'Let's go cause trouble'.

"So these kids, I think a lot of it is just boredom."

image source, Getty Images
image captionDillian believes Lucas Browne is a credible opponent

Dillian says he's weighing up Lucas Browne, his opponent, carefully.

"I'm fighting a former world champion, 25-0 undefeated guy, 23 knock-outs, so yeah, I take him seriously.

"He believes he's a harder puncher than Mike Tyson so that he shows he's deluded which makes him dangerous."

Dillian's been splitting his time between London and Loughborough in preparation for the fight, training two to three times a day.

Dillian's training schedule

  • Monday - Sprints, boxing and leg weights
  • Tuesday - Sparring, running, 15-20 rounds on the pads
  • Wednesday - Hard interval rowing and boxing
  • Thursday - Upper body weights, watt bike session followed by physiotherapy
  • Friday - Weights and sparring

The 29-year-old expects Browne to outweigh him by two or three stone.

"I feel really good, I feel strong, I feel fit, I feel sharp and I think Lucas Browne is going to have a big surprise."

image source, Getty Images
image captionAnthony Joshua beat Dillian Whyte to win the British heavyweight title in 2015

If Dillian wins on Saturday he hopes to secure his position as a legitimate mandatory challenger for a heavyweight title, and would like to fight Joshua again.

"You know what, I want to fight Deontay Wilder, but I always want to fight Joshua again.

"Two British fighters contend for a world heavyweight title. That would be history-making."

When they fought in 2015, Joshua knocked him out in the seventh round, but Dillian believes he's in a much stronger position to fight Joshua this time around.

"I'm not gonna make excuses. The simple fact of the matter is I wasn't in good condition.

"I was just a tough, strong guy that was coming through, thought I knew what I was doing, doing stuff by myself, and then I had a rude wake-up call."

Follow Newsbeat on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Listen to Newsbeat live at 12:45 and 17:45 every weekday on BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra - if you miss us you can listen back here.

Related Topics

More on this story