Rotherham champion ready for Sheffield date

Nav Mansouri lands a right hook
Nav Mansouri lands a right hook
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At the age of 17, Navid Mansoori was a 15-stone teenager who enjoyed junk food, partying and the hedonistic delights of night clubs.

He’d never boxed in his life, his athleticism confined to the odd football game - when he wasn’t plotting his next night out.

Fast forward seven years and the Rotherham athlete is English light middleweight champion with designs on the British title... as well as being a role model for wayward children.

Mansouri, who defends his English belt against Barnsley’s Matthew Mallin at iceSheffield tomorrow night, recalls: “I didn’t do a lot of exercise when I was young, just football really. “I never lived the healthy lifestyle, I was eating junk and like a lot of kids today, I was overweight.

“At that age, you want to do the things you are not supposed to do, like clubbing and that,” he acknowledged.

“I thought I’d have a look at the Millennium gym (Rotherham) and started to enjoy it. Everybody has to choose what path they take - and I chose to live healthy and start boxing. Soon I was sparring professionals and doing well against them, so I turned professional myself (in 2009.)”

Campaigning at 11 stone, he won the English title against Sheffield’s plucky Tyan Booth last May.

Out of the ring, he helps troubled youngsters develop into grounded adults.

“I work with children who have been kicked out of school and help them turn their lives around,” says Mansouri of Kimberworth.

The boxer, unbeaten other than one three rounder in the TV Prizefighter campaign, was ordered to fight Mallin after their first bout, last October, ended in the first round. It was judged that a clash of heads caused a cut to Mallin’s right eye and the contest was ruled a technical draw.

“That’s not what happened,” claimed Mansouri. “It’s frustrating. If you watch it back you’ll see my head never touched that side of him. I caught him with a left hook and thought I’d be in for an early night once that had landed. But I fight whoever they put in front of me. Mallin is a come-forward, strong kid, with a good work rate and a big lad, but I can work on the inside or the or the outside and adapt on the night to beat him.”