Daily Express


Wallin’s unique journey

- By Chris McKenna

OTTO WALLIN has been here before, as the warm-up act for a Brit before a big-money showdown with Deontay Wilder.

But for a man who once worked in a mental health hospital for “murderers and paedophile­s”, it is no daunting task.

In 2019, the Swedish heavyweigh­t gave Tyson Fury an almighty fright when he opened up a nasty cut over the Gypsy King’s right eye and pushed him all the way in LasVegas.

Now he is hoping to go one step further against Fury’s rival Anthony Joshua when he takes the former world champion on in Saudi Arabia a week on Saturday.

Wallin is planning to buy a new bike with his Middle East millions.

But his journey in boxing was motivated by seeing a Swedish Olympian drive a flash car.

“I started out boxing in a basement, it was the gym,” said the 33-year-old, who now trains in New York. “It was like a recreation­al centre. We had some good people there when I first started, we had an Olympian. He was Kennedy Katende.

“He went to two Olympics. I remember him being successful, I wanted to be like him, I remember him driving around in a nice car and it was good motivation because I wanted a car like his.

“It was like a Dodge I think he had. Me buy a car? I don’t need a car in New York, I ride round on Citi Bikes so maybe I’ll buy my own bike.”

Wallin has shared a ring twice with Joshua when they were both raw amateurs. The Brit got the better of him then and they have also sparred since.

But while Joshua went on to Olympic gold and then the riches that came with that in the pro ranks, Wallin’s journey has been a little different. He said:

“When I was about 21, I started working at the prison. It was like a prison but for mentally ill people.

“There would be murderers, paedophile­s but ones with mental issues who couldn’t go to a normal prison. That was an experience too. I learnt a lot there.

“I learnt not to judge people too hard, you never know what they’re going through. It’s not easy. They’re convicted of bad crimes but they’re also people.”

He left that life behind when he turned profession­al in 2013, and got his big break against Fury.

Wallin, whose defeat by the Brit is his only blemish in 27 outings, added: “I’m much better prepared to beat Joshua than I was to beat Fury. It shouldn’t be called an upset when I win.”

● Watch Joshua v Wallin live on DAZN PPV and TNT Sports Box Office in the UK on December 23.

Wallin is confident he can stun Joshua after leaving Fury bloodied in 2019, inset
FRIGHT NIGHT Wallin is confident he can stun Joshua after leaving Fury bloodied in 2019, inset
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