Islington star Kean to join the pros next season

George Kean

George Kean - Credit: Archant

Four-time national champion George Kean will remain loyal to his Islington roots after confirming his decision to turn professional next season.

The 22-year-old welterweight, who grew up in the borough and learned his trade at Times ABC, York Way, is set to sign for another Islington native – promoter Frank Warren.

Former European featherweight champion Jim McDonnell – another man who has a north London background, having started out with St Pancras ABC – will train Kean when he joins the paid ranks.

But the fighter, who left Times to join Repton ABC before returning last year, is also determined to retain the input of his father Alan, the club’s senior coach who inspired him to take up boxing – eventually!

“I actually used to hate being down at the gym,” Kean admitted. “I’d be saying ‘Dad, I want to go home, I’m bored!’

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“But I ended up going to Tenerife for a club training camp and after we got home I never looked back – since then boxing has been my life.

“I work very closely with my dad and I always want to keep him closely involved in my training and preparation because, apart from anything else, you need to have your family around you.

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“I’ve seen how important it is to have a circle of people you can trust and it’s about what’s best for me as a fighter. I’ve got nothing but praise for Repton – it’s one of the best clubs around, it was a great experience and I learned so much there.

“But being back at Times I felt happier and a happier fighter’s always a better fighter. It’s nice to go down to the gym for the banter, having a laugh after training with people you know.

“I appreciate the support from my friends and family, and everyone in Islington. The people I’ve grown up with are very important to me, it helps and pushes me to keep working hard.”

Kean, who started out at light-welterweight, collected two junior ABA titles and a junior novices title before he had even turned 16 – and he went on to add a senior novices trophy before becoming London senior ABA champion in 2012.

The Arsenal fan also represented and captained England at amateur level but, unlike his friend and training partner James DeGale, he never gained the opportunity to win a gold medal at the Olympic Games.

But Kean, whose brother Alfie and cousin Tayla also boxed as amateurs, has no regrets about missing out on Olympic glory, and is confident that the pro game will be a good fit for him.

“The proudest moment of my life was when I represented my country and I would love to have been an Olympic champion,” Kean reflected. “But everyone’s dealt a different hand of cards.

“You’ve got to do your apprenticeship and I’ve achieved a lot more than people might have expected.

“I didn’t start boxing with a view to being an amateur champion – I did it because I wanted to be a world champion.

“People have said they think pro boxing will suit me better and that my skills will come out in longer fights.

“Without wanting to sound cocky, I have confidence in myself and I just know that I have something special.”

Kean has begun work with a new strength coach and will train during the summer, with the aim of taking his professional bow in either September or October.

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