Dillian Whyte has revealed his biggest purse in his early fighting days was £2.
But these fights didn’t take place in the ring. Rather, the teenage Whyte took on local bullies while growing up in South London as his mates paid him to sort out their problems for them.
The WBC number one heavyweight contender, who returns to the ring to face Oscar Rivas at London’s O2 Arena on Saturday, says he was born to fight and had no qualms about taking on bullies bigger and older than him.
“I’ve always been a fighter,” Whyte said to the Mirror. “I’ve never had a choice. Growing up I had to fight to survive.
“I’m a fighter by nature, I’m a fighter by trade. I love to fight more than I love to show love and affection. It’s a weird thing.
“I love boxing. I love fighting. What would I do if I didn’t fight? Go get a 9-5?
“Kids used to pay me to fight bullies for them, I swear. At schools and around my estate. The bullies were older and bigger than me.
“Sometimes they gave me food, it could be sandwiches or it could be money. I think £2 was the most I got and £2 was a lot back then. You could buy a hell of a lot of sweets for £2 back then.”
Whyte, 32, has long coveted a world title shot and boosted his credentials with wins over Lucas Browne, Joseph Parker and Dereck Chisora last year.
But with WBC champion Deontay Wilder expected to fight Tyson Fury in a rematch early next year, Whyte’s overdue title shot may not come until the summer.
“I’m trying my best, man. I’m fighting top contenders and winning fights,” Whyte said.
“I’m not hiding from nobody. What more can I do? I’ve won every fight they have asked me to win – eliminator after eliminator.
“Man, there’s no carpet at all. What can you do? You can sit down and cry about it or get on. Some guys have an easy route, some guys have a hard route.
“Whether it is business, sport, everyday life, there are challenges everywhere. You just crack on, knuckle down and focus. It is difficult. Every time you overcome a hurdle there is another one.”