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Ben Whittaker - The story of 'The Surgeon' including his path into boxing, Olympic heartache and social media superstardom.

We take a closer look at one of boxing's rising superstars Ben Whittaker as 'The Surgeon' gears up for his in-ring return on the Fabio Wardley v Frazer Clarke undercard on Easter Sunday.


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The making of a true boxing maverick...

In an age where people have access to an unlimited amount of information, available at their fingertips, at any time of day or night, it's hardly surprising that we have collectively developed short attention spans.

To halt the ceaseless scrolling thumbs, there must be a captivating headline or quote, and videos must be short and unique to go viral in a saturated market.

To Gen Z, the most famous people in the world are influencers, Tik Tok personalities and Youtubers, opposed to actors, athletes and pop stars.

However, Ben Whittaker (6-0, 5 KOs) seems destined for superstardom in the modern world.

In the ring, the 26-year-old is a captivating mix of: speed, power and showmanship, which results in highlight-reel videos that subsequently spread like wildfire on social media. Outside of the ring he can be relied upon for a soundbite which will generate clicks.

Cynics would be forgiven for assuming the ‘The Surgeon’ is presenting a curated version of himself, for the sole purpose of gaining traction in the digital sphere, but this is not the case.

He is incapable of being anything other than his authentic self.

Having been diagnosed with ADHD as child, Whittaker was a self-professed “classroom clown”, who “bounced off the walls.”

School was not the right environment for the Wolverhampton native, and before long, he was expelled. The world of work was no more tolerant of his natural exuberance neither, as he was inevitably sacked from every role he undertook.

Thankfully, boxing provided Whittaker with an outlet for his boundless energy. With few other options available to him, he honed his craft.

Tokyo 2020 Olympic heartache...

In 2021, his hard work paid off as he represented Team GB at the delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Ultimately, Whittaker had to settle for silver, having been soundly beaten by, the classy Cuban, Arlen Lopez in the light-heavyweight Gold medal match.

For most, an Olympic medal would be the pinnacle of their amateur career, but the Midlands fighter was unable to hide his disappointment. On the podium, he removed the award and stood with his hands in his pockets.

Not for the last time, his actions divided opinion: to some, it was a classless act, to others, it was a genuine display of emotion, at an event where are competitors typically present a choreographed image.

The following day, the light-heavyweight appeared contrite in interviews as he explained: “When I look back in a few years, it will probably feel like a great achievement, but I was so upset, I couldn’t enjoy it.”

Ben Whittaker... a mayor for a day!

While talking to reporters in Japan, Whittaker expressed the desire to become mayor of his home city, Wolverhampton.

Upon his return to Britain, his wish was granted as he was given the role for a day.

During his time in the ceremonial position, Whittaker proposed a popular manifesto promising: “Gold chains, grills and playstations for all.”

For many, he was a politician that they could finally get behind!

Honing his professional craft (in style)...

In July of 2022, the Olympian turned professional, stopping Greg O’Neil, inside two rounds.

Instantly, he established himself as a marmite character as he showboated, danced, kept his gloves held low and relied on his reflexes. To some he is self-confident, to others, cocky, but, either way, everyone was talking.

Immediately afterwards, Whittaker’s promoter, Ben Shalom declared: “He’s the future of British boxing.”

Under the tutelage of SugarHill Steward, four of his five subsequent opponents have suffered a similar fate.

Each performance has been punctuated by hand speed, knockdowns and taunts, in Whittaker’s own unorthodox style.

Drawing comparisons with other fighting greats...

With elaborate ring walks, knockout power, endless self-belief and adorned in Adidas ring attire, the inevitable comparisons to ‘Prince’ Naseem Hamed have been made.

Like the former Ingle Gym fighter, Whittaker has faced accusations of showing a lack of respect to his foes, but ‘The Surgeon’ was quick to refute such suggestions:

“The thing I will disagree with is the claims that I am disrespectful,” Whittaker told the Daily Star. “You don’t see me effing and blinding and belittling my opponent. After the fight, I always congratulate them, that’s just my style.

“Some of the greats have done it back in the day and, even now, Billy Joe Saunders has done it, Tyson Fury has done it and Conor McGregor has done it.”

While Whittaker’s antics may not be for everyone, they are undoubtedly popular.

Ben Whittaker, the social media superstar...

Clips of his latest win, over Khalid Graida, quickly spread on social media as the Olympic silver medallist utilised his reflexes to evade his opponent’s attack, before spinning round on one leg, drawing the ire of the referee.

Afterwards, he gained 100,00 Instagram followers within 24 hours and his total now sits at in excess of one million.

However, Whittaker is acutely aware that fame does not equate to success and, as such, is remaining laser-focussed on boxing:

“I’m not trying to go viral,” he told Sky Sports, “I’m not trying to get likes and things like that.

"Of course, it’s a compliment, but I’m just being me. It’s a good response, but I’ve just got to keep my feet on the ground and make sure I cut no corners.”

Is Whittaker the greatest showman or, as his critics suggest, a mere circus clown? Only time will tell, but of course, the Wolverhampton fighter is convinced he’s destined for the very top and is adamant he will do it his own way.

“When I do actually box and switch on, I do believe there’s not many people that can box like me,” he told Sky Sports.

“I’ve got a really high boxing IQ. I maybe had a bit too many Smarties in the changing room, but like I said, it’s just me enjoying myself, having fun.

“I just can’t wait to show when I’m at the top level, my actual real skills.”


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