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By New York Times Best-Selling Author, Conor Benn
And by Katie Taylor.
Before Conor Benn was born his dad was a professional boxer – he was A box-office type (the Danny Williams in the Brit trinity with Michael Sprott and Joe Calzaghe) and dabbled as a singer and songwriter, country singing, did model modeling for TV (Discovery) and even starred in ‘Death Wish 4’…’6 Weeks In New York’, Kim Basinger played a wife-beating ex-wife (Adrienne Barbeau) and Kerry Washington was the new girlfriend. Conor was born at around the same time, the middle of the bawdy brood. He was a popular boy (he had his own signature anthem) with the hot-blooded dogfight atmosphere of his dad’s cage match stable.
Benn brought his dad in the way it’s done – as another sport, like hockey or football. He grew up in Clewiston, Florida (a place with a population of 1,913) across the water from Tampa and swam in the little ponds when Florida was still predominantly swampy, on the back roads not far from the beach.
He may have been a classically trained musical genius – working out of a Las Vegas sauna where he used to bring his students and partner in song – but he says he will never forget the work ethic and the mind-set of boxing and his father:
“I started boxing at a young age…and it wasn’t like walking around fancy gym sparring stuff, it was like:
“…I’m getting in that ring, straight in with somebody and the blood is dripping off their face…I learned to focus on boxing. I’ve always said we have a father and a son, a father and son fighting was a unique thing that’s not a thing you ever saw, but I don’t see it in the NFL, so why is there something different about fighting in a ring?”
The Benns traveled a lot – sometimes, eight hours to train at the same gym in nearby Lakeland. Anthony Benn says he always had his son covered in sweat – albeit with a fleece ‘dad pajama’ on, “I don’t remember ever going out after work, our last location in Lakeland, we had company, the three of us, and I’d roll in at three in the morning – I’d sweat out in the car, so that’s really, really cool, as well as having a good workout and then going home.”
The Benns all remained committed to box training – staying after almost every fight had ended – because of the self-improvement and commitment from each. Conor Benn became such a skilled boxer that while a school-age pupil in Belle Harbor, Queens in New York, he built a website about his dad and why he was boxing.
“I started talking a lot to people on Facebook – it got really popular – and I got everybody hooked on boxing and told them, ‘Look at this story and read about this story…this is why I’m here, I’m a father and I do this.’”
Benn plans to follow in his dad’s footsteps, and to make it on Broadway, though for now, Conor is planning a fight for March in Palm Beach, Florida on an HBO Undercard.
“My dad has always said – to me and the girls and to my girlfriend – that I’m going to fight too.”
For Katie Taylor, there is no question.
Taylor was born in Dublin, Ireland, but grew up in Ireland, Italy, America, and the south of France. She has boxed in Ireland, Switzerland, Austria, New York, and in Dublin, during her last year of high school – all before she made her world championship debut at age 17.
“I was that child that sat in on class during the biggest boxing tournament in the UK and I was taking down …it was his pleasure, and I was very much in that like it was a job. At that point in my life I was not a little girl, I was ten years old and I was coming out of my nanna’s room taking down my mates so he could go to boxing. That was the way I was meant to be a strong athlete. I wasn’t a four-year-old kicking a ball on the side of the road, I was boxing my life away.�