I’m Britain’s hardest accountant, nicknamed Disease… now I’m out to KO my way to a world title
DAN AZEEZ was nicknamed ‘Disease’ by his first crush and knocked out in 30 seconds of his debut – now he is Britain’s best and set to rule Europe.
The 33-year-old light-heavyweight ace is one of the UK’s most in-form fighters, at 18-0, following a magnificently old-school route from small hall shows and financial hits to Southern Area, English, British and Commonwealth titles and big-money bouts.
Dan Azeez is a former removals man with a Masters in finance, who now holds every British titleJamie McPhilimey
On March 11 the lovable Lewisham lad takes the next giant leap with his first trip to Paris to fight local favourite Thomas Faure for the blue EBU belt.
It will be an incredible turnaround for the former removals man and accountant with the Masters in finance – now known as Super Dan – who is the first 12st 7lbs fighter from these shores to secure every domestic title.
Mr D. Azeez laughed to SunSport: “I used to cry about that nickname, I will never forget it. A substitute teacher called me it once and she really laughed.
“I remember sitting there thinking ‘you’re in on the act too? I really don’t stand a chance’.
“Thankfully the name vanished after secondary school because I hated it, it really hurt me.
“It was made so much worse because it was a supply teacher who I really fancied as well so all the other kids burst out laughing as well.
“I knew then my chances with her were shot – not that they were ever that strong when I am eight years old in her Maths class.
“I wonder if she watches me now and remembers I was hot for her?”
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Azeez’s former teacher will have to tune in to Sky Sports next month to watch her star student take the last step before a world title bid.
It is a far cry from his 2013 amateur debut – undertaken while he was a student at Colchester University – that ended in a devastating loss.
Sharing the Harlow stage with Lawrence Okolie – who was also making his bow – Azeez danced into his debut full of bravado and was knocked spark out inside a minute.
At the Royal Resistance gym in Kidbrooke, he revealed: “I swear, I walked across the ring and I was knocked out, chinned clean.
“I only got into boxing by watching the likes of Roy Jones Jr and David Haye and they had that flashy style built on reflexes and speed.
“I don’t know what I was thinking but I was dancing around in the changing room before, the most confident I have ever been for any fight – pro or amateur.
“I was in the changing room with Okolie and he was so confident so I tapped into that but then my opponent just whacked in a hook that sent me flying. I will never forget it.”
Now crippled by nerves and facing Okolie in their shared second bout – which Azeez would lose on points – he had every excuse to quit and focus on his studies and career.
Instead he showed stunning grit to bite down on his gumshield and finally taste victory at his third attempt – but luck was nothing to do with it.
“I have always had this heart and resilience,” he said. “I think most other people who suffered that would have said ‘f*** this, it definitely ain’t for me’.
“But I am stubborn and was determined to learn the sport and the art until I got good.
“I was always nervous and now I had got chinned but I knew I was going to keep doing it.
“I lost other amateur fights later on and always felt like jacking it in, but Monday I would be back in the gym starting afresh again.”
The light-heavy division is one of the most packed and talented in Britain but it is another frustrating weight class where the best are avoiding the best.
But Azeez – who is good pals with domestic rivals Joshua Buatsi and Craig Richards – hopes a European title will help him secure a series of spectacular showdowns.
“I am optimistic so I will always believe that it can happen,” he said about overcoming boxing’s frustrating business model to make the best fights.
“Look at the legendary rivalry Nigel Benn, Michael Watson and Chris Eubank Sr shared, and that’s just three of them.
“We have me, Anthony Yarde, Joshua Buatsi, Callum Smith, Craig Richards and Lyndon Arthur, there are a lot of us and it would be amazing if we could all fight each other.
“Those sort of legacies live on and I want to be a part of it.
“I was always desperate to be mentioned alongside these guys and now I am so I hope to make the fights and there will be no shame in losing in any of these fights, because any loser could rebuild against another.
“I really don’t think people will care about losses if you’re in great fights and rivalries.”