Hoping to follow in the footsteps of Prince Naseem Hamed and Amir Khan, Sanjeev Singh Sahota is ready to be the next great British Asian boxing hero.
The 25-year-old super-lightweight prospect is unbeaten in four fights and has already shown his class in the iconic York Hall and the Copper Box Arena in the capital.
Earlier this year, ‘SSS’ even went international, taking part in a landmark event in New Delhi in front of thousands ringside and millions on TV.
Growing up in Hornchurch in England before moving to Murcia, Spain, in his early teens, he now divides his time between the two countries in pursuit of his sporting ‘dream’.
Ahead of his bout against Hungarian Gyula Tallosi in Brentwood next Friday night (25), Sahota spoke to Eastern Eye from Spain about his career so far and world title aspirations.
“It’s been an amazing journey so far,” he says. “My first fight was at the Copper Box Arena, the second was at York Hall, and the third in New Delhi. That was an incredible experience in front of 8,000 fans and 30 million more on television.
“It was a privilege for me, it was like the equivalent of a Las Vegas show. I had the pressure coming from the UK, even though I’m Indian, fighting in their home country against their champion.
“But I got the win. Some people don’t have fights like that until they have had 19, 20 bouts; I had it in my third fight.”
On that July night in the Thyagaraj Stadium, Sahota saw off the challenge of Vikas Kumar on points on the undercard of Vijender Singh’s WBO Asia Pacific super-middleweight win over Kerry Hope.
Sahota recalled: “On my social media, I still get messages from India. I was part of history, it was one of the biggest bills ever held in the country.
“Hopefully the likes of Vijender and I can continue to help the sport to grow over there.”
After moving to Spain, Sahota was bitten by the fight bug after watching reality TV show The Contender. He soon took up kick-boxing before winning the Madrid and Murcia title as a young fighter.
Trained by Lennie Butcher and ex-pro Dominic Negus in Romford, and backed by Francis Warren’s Queensberry Promotions and BoxNation, Sahota is in positive mood after completing his first year in the paid ranks.
“Every training camp, I’m getting better. I fight with my heart, I’m learning every day. I’m classed as a pressure fighter and do a lot of work up close,” he explains.
“I’m in no rush (to win titles) but I want to be the best. It’s too early in my career to say I want to win this or that.
“It is my dream and hopefully I can make it a reality. I believe I am a hard worker and hope that it pays off.”
Commenting on the impact former world champs Hamed and Khan had on him, Sahota adds: “I enjoyed watching Prince Naseem and now Amir Khan growing up, especially as an Asian.
“Hopefully I can emulate their achievements. Asians are traditionally brought up to do some sort of business, but I wanted to do something different.
“I could have gone down that route but I’m chasing a dream rather than a guaranteed goal.
“Maybe one day I can help youngsters get into sport and be inspired. When I was younger I was bullied a bit and a little overweight; if I can give something back, that would be great.”
For more information, check Sanjeev out on Twitter (@sanjeevsahota), Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat. For tickets, go to [email protected] or [email protected]