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Repaying my family is only motivation I need: Haskins

 

By David Kelly

Lee Haskins needed professional boxing, it wasn't by choice that he threw away the amateur vest. The Bristol man had to provide for his family and those closest to the 33-year-old remain his motivation.

Haskins isn't one for sugar coating the journey he has been on as a fighter, taking his lumps along the way to World title success, which few pundits would have believed he was capable of achieving - and doing so without the serious backing of a major television network.

On Saturday night at the SSE Arena, he intends to take another positive step along the 16-year path with victory over Belfast challenger Ryan Burnett.

Growing up on a council estate, Haskins says he was "destined to be a boxer" even though nobody within his family had been associated with the sport. Having badgered his mother Claire and stepfather Mark to take him to the local gym, he started to learn his craft.

By his own admission he was not one for academia, to the point where mum Claire had the authorities knocking on her door wondering why little Lee had not been at school, despite the fact she had dropped him off a few yards from the gates. If that was a challenge to be handled, an even bigger one paved the way for his entrance into professional boxing.

"I didn't like school, I bunked off a lot to hang out with my mates - I just wanted to have fun so I was always doing pranks, I was a bit of a menace. I actually didn't go for the whole of the last year... I don't have much of an education and that's something I regret," said Haskins.

"I was never a bully or anything like that, I think that's disgusting. But I did have the social workers on my mum's back and that's something that I regret because she has been such a great support to me.

"She was there when I got partner Claire, who became my wife, pregnant when she was just 16. I was 17 and I had to turn professional to provide for her and my wee boy Anton, who is my greatest achievement when I see the young man that he has turned into.

"I'd only had 15 amateur contests but I had to go pro to provide for my family and my family have always been my big motivation and they still are.

"They have inspired me in my career and they continue to inspire me - we have three children, Anton, Nadine and Acelee."

On Saturday night, Haskins will bank the kind of payday that he could only have dreamed of when taking his first steps into the pro ranks.

"I remember for my first fight I got £400. I had to take a couple of part-time jobs to make ends meet, so I would do some cleaning jobs in the local hairdressers and also cleaning out garages for people. My mum and stepdad allowed us to move in with them and my mum has always been a great nan," he said.

"Those are times you don't forget... it wasn't until I got to British title level that I started to make enough money out of boxing. I feel very blessed with how things have gone and my wife Claire has been a great support to me - I'm still a bit of a joker, though."

As for Saturday night, Haskins isn't ready to throw out any bombastic predictions but nevertheless has an air of quiet confidence that he can turn back the threat of Burnett.

"I think it's going to be a very good fight. Ryan's a very talented boxer and we'll see who can come out on top. As World champion I want to be beating fighters as talented as Ryan," he added.

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