Amaar Akbar: “I Want Kids To Start Believing In Themselves
By Cameron Temple
There are few sports out there more dangerous than boxing, with fighters risking their lives every time they step into the ring.
Due to the severity of the sport, it is easy to forget that up and down the country thousands of kids take up boxing every year because it is a fun, entertaining activity that promotes positive attributes such as discipline and hard work, while keeping kids out of trouble after school.
This idea rings especially true in the professional ranks when the politics, money and bright lights of the sport can act as a distraction to why fighters started boxing in the first place.
One man whose perspective on the sport has not waivered is nineteen-year-old, Amaar Akbar, who tragically lost his Aunt and brother within the space of two weeks in 2011:
“I lost about five or six times in amateur fights,” Amaar explained, “and people used to ask me how I took it so well, the fact that I lost and was on to the next one. I think it’s just because, as a kid, I grew to be mentally stronger, so when I’m fighting, to me boxing is all fun and games really. Obviously, I take it seriously, but compared to my outside world, boxing is just another sport.”
Amaar has always enjoyed combat sports in general, but eventually it became time to focus on one in particular:
“My dad used to teach me as a little boy and I loved doing MMA and boxing from early on. I just kept doing it and my dad told me to pick one, because I couldn’t keep doing both of them. For me it was boxing, because whenever I used to do MMA, I was always using my hands a lot more than anything else, so I stuck to boxing and I’ve come this far now.”
Amaar is from Dewsbury, which is not known for its boxing prowess, but that is something he hopes to change:
“Recently, there’s been a lot of amateur gyms and there’s loads of national titles here. The only person I can remember who has been at British level, is Gary Sykes. I’m the first person from Dewsbury to be signed with a promotional company as big as Frank Warren’s.”
Despite the lack of boxing history in Dewsbury, Amaar revealed the sport has a good following in his area:
“I was known in the amateur’s for having a big fan base, so hopefully we can bring that into the professional ranks.”
Amaar is hoping that his new found profile and platform, now being promoted by Frank Warren and potentially fighting on BT sport, will enable him to act as a role model for kids from his area:
“I want kids to start believing in themselves, because a lot of them are fighting in the amateurs, but I don’t think there’s anyone who can act as a role model for them in the professional game around here. Hopefully, now that I’ve signed with Frank Warren, kids will start realising that they can get to a high level as a professional.”
Frank Warren has been busy while the country has been in lockdown, accumulating a long list of new signings, and Amaar Akbar has been yet another young fighter to benefit from that:
“I was boxing in the amateurs, and I was going to go down the traditional route, by doing the seniors and the GB assessment and try to get a big promoter like that. A friend messaged me asking if I was still an amateur and what my plans were and I told him that I was going to carry on in the amateurs. He asked for my amateur details in terms of how many fights I’d won and who I’d sparred and then he came back with a Frank Warren deal, and for me it was the right time to turn over.”
Amaar went on to say, “even in the amateurs when there was a lot of people watching me, I’d perform better and when the opponent was better, I’d perform better. So, hopefully, when I am on TV, on BT sport, I’ll put in good performances, and people will start remembering me.”
It was Amaar’s impressive amateur pedigree that initially caught the eye of hall of fame promoter, Frank Warren, being a two-time national champion and a six-time Yorkshire champion, as well as reaching the final of the senior national amateur championships.
“I was eighteen when I entered the senior elites,” Amaar said, “it was my first year, and people used to tell me not to enter them because it was against men and I was still a boy, but I always had the mindset that I could beat anyone. I went straight into the senior elites and I beat national champions, GB number ones, eight-time national champions, I beat them all really. I always knew I was on that level; it was just about me performing on the day.”
Given Amaar’s success in the senior national amateur championships, and with the backing of Frank Warren, Amaar is confident he can mix it with the best in Britain in his weight division:
“There’s a lot of good fighters in the super lightweight division. I don’t need to rush, because I’m only nineteen, so I can get a few fights under my belt. I honestly believe that I can hang in there with all of them and beat them all, it’s just about getting the opportunity at the right time and taking it.”
Amaar currently trains out of the Warrior Breed gym in Dewsbury, with his dad, who Amaar cited as his biggest influence, being his main trainer and the man he plans to have in his corner when he makes his professional debut:
“My dad knows me inside and out,” Amaar admitted, “so he knows when I’m right or not and when I’m performing well, so It makes sense to stick with him, because he knows me best. He’s with me 24/7. Even when I’m running at night, he’s driving alongside me and he’s always talking to me and telling me I’m one of the best fighters in the world, so he’s always in my ear. He’s a good trainer and a good motivator.”
With his dad training him and Frank Warren handling his promotion, Amaar hopes he has a assembled a team capable of helping him achieve his lofty ambitions in the sport, which he outlined:
“I want to go all the way to the top and become a world champion. I’m only nineteen at the moment, so in the first few fights I can just get into it and get used to fighting in a pro style, which I think I’m already used to. I want to get a few wins under my belt, and then the titles will come themselves I believe.
“Obviously, money is part of it, because I’m boxing full time and I’d be wrong to say money wasn’t a part of it. Legacy is my main aim, I want the Akbar name to be remembered in boxing when I’m gone or retired, like Mayweather, he’ll be remembered for generations, so I want to be remembered like that. I also want to be someone who gives back to the needy people, I want to be a good role model outside the ring.”
In terms of that last goal, Amaar has already taken steps in the right direction in terms of helping those in need, as he works with community groups, discouraging young people from becoming involved in knife crime and gang culture.
Much of this comes down to his religion, with charity and Islam falling hand in hand. For Amaar, while his religion has encouraged him to help others, it has also guided him through tough times, as he acknowledged:
“When all the bad stuff in my life was going on, when members of my family passed away, out of everything religion was what got me through it. Praying would clear my mind, it’s amazing. Without religion I don’t think I’d be here right now, that’s how strong my faith is.”
Amaar hopes to make his professional debut as soon as possible, although he admitted it will inevitably be delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic:
“It’s going to be a while yet, because after this lockdown, we need to go and meet Frank and then I’ve got medicals and other stuff to do, so I don’t think I’ll have my debut for a while yet. I’m always training, so I’m never out of shape and I’m always active. I would fight behind closed doors, but it all depends on if the fighters are healthy, it’s a risk though, so I’m not really too sure about that one.”
Whenever that time comes when we do get to see Amaar in the ring, fighting as a professional, he promises his fans excitement:
“You can expect an exciting fighter with a big crowd and hopefully some titles along the way. I’m taking it one step at a time, but I won national titles and represented England all within the space of five years, so in another five years, hopefully I can be involved in that world scene… that’s the plan anyway.”