Middleweight stardom beckons for Kayani
A day with Amar Kayani is a day like no other. A morning of ‘light’ training, with pad and bag work supplemented by skipping and hundreds of press-ups, is a distinct reminder of how boxing is steeped in hard work and dedication.
Sweat flies from the rising star in the middleweight division as he prepares for his upcoming bout in the national quarter-finals.
After three hours, Kayani peels off his drenched shirt and squeezes a pool of perspiration into a grubby bucket at his gym in High Wycombe.
Born in Slough, Berkshire, and having had to work hard to become one of the most feared amateurs in the sport, Kayani says he has educated himself.
“Life wasn’t plain sailing when I was a youngster,” he admits while watching a dozen prospects being put through their paces in a sparring session.
“I was always getting in trouble at school and as a youngster I was fighting all the time. I was never scared of confrontation and I just loved fighting.
“It was obviously wrong, but punching someone or something was the easy way out during that time. It gave me an adrenaline rush so boxing seemed perfect for me to get into.”
Kayani grew up in a family passionate about boxing. In his understated way, the 21-year-old describes his journey to becoming one of the most destructive boxers in the amateur ranks, and says he is delighted to have a family that has a massive attachment to the sport.
“Boxing teaches discipline and you have to be disciplined in many more ways than just the boxing aspect in life in order to be a success”
“As a youngster, I looked up to my oldest brother,” says Kayani with a huge smile.
“He did taekwondo and used to show me clips of him competing, and I would get such a buzz watching him.
‘My dad [pictured, top, with Kayani] was a massive Muhammad Ali fan and all he ever spoke about was how good the heavyweight division was with the likes of Henry Cooper, Joe Bugner, and George Foreman.
“As as I got older, I started to Google these fighters and got drawn into the world of boxing – let’s just say the rest is history. I owe my family so much because without their love for boxing, I wouldn’t be doing this today.”
Kayani, 21, admits he learnt some of his biggest life lessons after experiencing confrontations triggered by a violent temper.
“The fight against Adewale was a good test but I was in complete control”
“I’ve learnt a lot since I started boxing. Before, I was arguing with individuals on the street, but now I know I’m a trained professional.
“Now if arguments ever occur, I will always walk away rather than fight.
“Boxing teaches discipline and you have to be disciplined in many more ways than just the boxing aspect in life in order to be a success.”
Laying down a marker
Kayani leans forward intently as he discusses his huge victory over Josh Adewale – the man who is supposedly one of the brightest middleweight’s in the country.
That bout at Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire, earlier this month for a place in the quarter-finals of the Nationals, was one Kayani was expected to lose.
However, a dominant performance saw him earn victory by a split decision.
“It was a special evening,” says Kayani, beaming at the recollection.
“I always knew I would overcome him. I was training so hard for this moment and most of the media doubted me, but that gave me more motivation to prove them wrong.
“The fight was a good test but I was in complete control.
“I did what I had to do but now that’s in the past and I look forward to the next fight and the next after that. This business does not stop for anyone.”
Reaching a new level of maturity in his life, the man nicknamed the ‘AK’ says his dedication to the sport is, in part, down to the support of his coaches.
“Stuart, John, Russ and Shane are the definition of a team,” says the 21-year-old fighter. “They all contribute so much and I learn different things from each of them.
“They all have their own way of doing things and I mix up everything to make myself the best that I can possibly be.
“They have helped me grow as a boxer, but most importantly as a person so I will forever be grateful for that.”
Kayani is also passing down lessons to aspiring young fighters by running twice-weekly sessions at a boxing gym in Slough.
The flamboyant star, who likens himself to pro fighters Vasyl Lomachenko and Guillermo Rigondeaux, admits that the aim of these sessions is helping young kids steer clear of trouble.
“A considerable amount of youngsters were getting into trouble in Slough, and I thought why not use my knowledge of the sport to teach them something productive and keep them off the streets.
“The sessions are tough so usually they will go home and shower and then rest instead of being out all night causing mischief like most of them normally would!”
Despite the tough training regimes implemented by his coaches, the amateur star, who has a record of 14 wins and two close losses, enjoys the lighter side of life through hobbies including PlayStation and watching his beloved Manchester United.
“I get pretty engulfed in most things but watching United play gets me pumped,” admits Kayani.
“Boxing takes up most of my schedule but when I have time to relax, it’s all about my friends and family and just enjoying the finer things in life, and that includes thrashing someone on FIFA 17!”
The youngster’s instinct is steering him in the right direction as he aims to become British boxing’s most exciting amateur.
“I will bring a flamboyancy to the middleweight division – for many years it’s lacked the cutting-edge excitement that professional boxing needs”
However, the calm and calculated character smiles and insists he has many aspirations to accomplish by the end of this season.
“Right now I’m focused on the here and now and by the end of this season, I want to achieve a lot,” insists Kayani.
“I have a solid goal in my head, and that is to turn professional within a year or two. I think I will bring a flamboyancy to the middleweight division – for many years it’s lacked the cutting-edge excitement that professional boxing needs.
“I think I will keep improving until I can win a world title, but at the moment I want to be national champion and then the ABA champion and anything else in between that.
“I have no doubt in my mind that it can be done and it is possible.”