Rookie pro Khalid Ayub hoping to inspire in paid ranks
However, the 18-year-old from Mytholmroyd, near Halifax, has recently signed a pro deal with MTK Global and has aspirations of reaching the very top.
Ayub had considered staying at amateur level as a senior, having won four national titles, two GB titles and also represented England at the 2016 European Championships in Croatia.
MTK have a reputation for managing some of the best boxers in the business and have the likes of WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury, former two-weight world champion Carl Frampton and unified super lightweight champion Josh Taylor on their books.
Boxing has always been Ayub’s passion, after he tried on his first pair of gloves aged three and fought for the first time aged 10.
“I have done it since I was very young, I got my first punch ball when I was three and then had my first fight at 10,” he told The Yorkshire Post.
“It is always something that I have done.
“I played football as a youngster but the whole way through it was mainly boxing.”
He added: “I trained at a gym in Cleckheaton and a gym called Warrior Breed in Dewsbury.
“I won a national title there, two GB titles and represented England as well, at the European Championships.”
Ayub will now train in Slough, on the outskirts of London, alongside Adam Azim and Hassan Azim, the brothers who who won a plethora of titles between them in the amateur ranks.
Adam won a light-welterweight bronze medal at the 2018 Youth Olympic games with Team GB and is a six-time national champion.
Younger brother, Hassan has won an astonishing 10 National titles, one European Championship and a European silver medal, and was the No 1-ranked Youth Amateur in the world at welterweight.
Ayub, who will be fighting at light heavyweight in the pro ranks, is eager for the chance to train alongside the siblings.
“I didn’t really have any plans to turn professional until one or two months ago,” he added.
“I have got a new training team that I am going to be training with down in Slough.
“My team down there, they wanted me, instead of going back into the amateurs and fighting as a senior, they said I should turn professional and build my experience that way.
“MTK are one of the biggest management companies in the world. They manage fighters like Tyson Fury and Billy Joe Saunders.
“For me, it is a platform to get the experience and build up my resume.”
Ayub hopes to emulate the in-ring success of the likes of Fury and Muhammad Ali but it is their personalities outside of the ring which make them ideal role models for the Yorkshire fighter.
“Tyson Fury and Muhammad Ali, they are two inspirational figures,” said Ayub.
“Down the line I would like to make an impact like them.
“In the ring, they are some of the most skilful boxers that have ever fought. With how they move and how they are, they have got a personality in the ring as well.
“On the outside, they are inspirational to a lot of people and a lot of people look up to them as well.
“There are not many figures like that now in boxing. I would like to be someone like that, who could inspire a lot of people.”
The British Boxing Board of Control has set out proposals for a return of the sport behind closed doors.
Boxing shows will be allowed but limited to five bouts per show, with MTK hoping to put events on for broadcast in July and August.
High-level sport in England will be allowed to resume from the beginning of this month with Covid-19 testing, which has already been seen used by the Premier League and EFL, required to be in place.
“It is not ideal, especially on my professional debut but you have just got to go along with it,” said Ayub, on the prospect of his professional debut being staged without any fans present.
“Hopefully when fans are back in arenas and watching fights live again it will be better.
“In the time being you have just got to do what you can to perform.”
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