Otto Wallin goes from working with ‘murderers and paedophiles’ to fighting AJ

Otto Wallin has been here before as the warm-up 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. Back in 2019, the Swedish heavyweight gave Tyson Fury a mighty fright when he opened up a nasty cut over the Gypsy King’s eye and pushed him all the way in Las Vegas.

Now he’s hoping to go one step further against Fury’s rival Anthony Joshua when he takes the former world champion on in Saudi Arabia on December 23. Wallin, 33, is planning the purchase of a new bike with his Middle East millions. But his journey in boxing was motivated by seeing a Swedish Olympian drive around in a flash car.

READ MORE: Fans distracted by Tyson Fury's 'third leg' as boxing champ returns to training

READ MORE: 'Anthony Joshua snubbed £40m to box me – we're now fighting on same night'

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“I started out boxing in a basement, it was the gym,” said the Swede, who hails from the city of Sundsvall but now trains in New York. “It was like a recreational centre. They still have the club there. 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.

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“Me buy a car? Maybe I will buy a new bike. I don’t need a car in New York, I ride round on Citybikes so maybe I’ll buy my own bike.”

Wallin has shared a ring twice before with Joshua when they were both raw amateurs. The Brit got the better of him then and they’ve also sparred since. But while Joshua went on to Olympic gold and the riches that came with that in the pro ranks after, Wallin’s journey has been a little different.

“When I was about 15 I started working at a hardware store, I was selling everything to build a house,” he said. “Then 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 learned a lot there.

“One thing I learned was 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. It’s not that fun.

“I mean it was easy work-wise, we were just hanging around making sure nothing bad was happening. I could train on my lunch breaks. I didn’t have to spend too much energy and I could work out on my lunches.”

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Wallin left that life behind when he turned professional in 2013 and then teamed up with well-known trainer Joey Gamache. He briefly returned in 2018 when fights dried up but then in 2019 he got his big break against Fury.

“I’ve had four more years of training, I’ve got more experience,” added Wallin, whose defeat by Fury is his only blemish in 27 outings. “I know what I’m getting myself into. 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 Saturday December 23

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