“Learning about it as you grow up, people associate the name with Chris. There is a certain expectation that seems to come with that.”
These were the words of Harlem Eubank, the 27-year-old nephew of Chris Eubank Sr. He spoke exclusively to Boxing Social about his life growing up and next the move in a career that currently sits at 12-0, 8 KOs as a professional.
The super-lightweight has recently secured a contract with Wasserman Boxing. The Brightonian was extremely excited to be signing with the promotional outfit, but he certainly had no intention of being a boxer in his early days.
“I started doing martial arts, that was always my thing. I was inspired by Bruce Lee and would watch movies literally on repeat,” he said. “I always enjoyed the philosophy and discipline aspects of combat and did karate for four or five years.
“It got a little bit stale for me as it wasn’t full contact when you were a kid. I was only 11 and wanted something else.”
That something else was still not yet to be boxing, Eubank was also a talented footballer.
“I took it up at 11. The team I played for got hammered by Chelsea, but I played quite well. Brighton then signed me on a four-year contract.”
During his time at Brighton he made his first foray into sport his family were associated with.
“I started doing a little bit of boxing at fourteen for Moulescoomb ABC. I had two bouts but was doing it as fitness for football,” said Eubank. “On the weekend of one football match I was meant to be boxing the night before. I got up to London and the kid pulled out after he heard the name.
“The following day all the lads in the changing room were asking me about it. Once the coach heard, he said I couldn’t box while I was playing football.”
Eubank was released by Brighton at 16 and continued playing football, but the desire to follow in the footsteps of his dad, uncle and cousin was becoming more prominent.
“At 18, I’d had enough of football. It was time to start boxing and I came down here to Brighton and Hove ABC and was trained by Scott Welch. I wanted to progress as quickly as I could and become a professional.
“I was an amateur for four years, during which time I had 33 fights and won twenty-odd, almost all of which were in actual competitions. I probably only appeared on five or six club shows.
“I showed talent, enthusiasm and a little bit of ability for someone just starting and I was pushed into higher level competition almost straight away.”
He believes that carrying the Eubank name was more of a negative than a positive while in the amateur ranks.
“Firstly, I was getting a bit avoided by opponents merely because of the name. But refereeing and judging also went against me,” he said.
“One fight, the referee didn’t like something I was doing. He said if I moved like that again he’d disqualify me and that he didn’t care who my uncle and cousin were.”
At the age of 22, it was time to turn professional and he initially remained at Brighton and Hove Boxing Club, a gym beneath a children’s play area situated directly on the beautiful Hove seafront.
“I was initially training myself with little bits of help from Ronnie Davies [the former trainer of Chris Sr]. I won my first bout on a home show.”
It was during this time that Eubank was going on training holidays with his late cousin, Sebastian Eubank.
“Seb and I spent so much time together. We trained and lived in Vegas together for four months sparring in the Mayweather gym before my first fight,” said Eubank.
“After my debut, we went to Cuba. Annoyingly, all of the elite amateurs were out of training for the two weeks we were in Havana, but we still did our own thing and sparred who we could.”
It was on returning from this trip that he felt it was time to find a stable training set-up. He knew who it was that he wanted.
“I met Adam Booth a few years ago when Chris Jr briefly trained with him. Adam was training him down here in Brighton. Seb told me he was down,” said Harlem.
“I went straight down and was doing a bit of work on the bag on my own. After Adam finished with Chris, he came over and said this is how you should throw this, this is the weight distribution, work on this for next time.
“I think he saw something and wanted to guide me a little bit.
“As soon as I got back from Cuba, there was a NextGen show, I got a guy to contact Adam for a training set-up and Adam said he wanted me in the gym the next day.”
Since linking up with Booth at his Reigate gym, they have now won 11 fights on the spin. Eubank is revelling in the environment.
“It’s how the set-up formulates when you turn professional and what suits you best. It’s about personalities interacting and bringing the best out of you. No one knows all the answers in boxing. I love being at Adam’s as there is so much talent to learn from that can drag you up.”
Eubank had been frustrated with 10 months of activity, but he had no fears of ring-rust prior to entering the ring against Nika Nakashidze a couple of weeks ago.
“My sparring [was] unreal. I have been sparring Mick Conlan, Josh Kelly and plenty of others. That is what is great at Adam’s gym. Mick gives you the sharpness and technical ability and Josh gives you the trickiness and skills.”
Eubank comfortably beat his opponent in Latvia to maintain his unbeaten record and the man from the south coast was enthusiastic at now being attached to a promoter.
“It’s great to be in a position like this, fighting under a powerful promoter. I haven’t been that active and no fights arose, but it should now be a different story,” he said.
When asked what his aspirations are over the next year, Eubank was not wanting to hang around after close to a year of frustration.
“In the next 12 months, I want five fights. British level by the end of it, definitely. British eliminators were being spoken about after my last fight a way back. The British route would be good as the belt is shiny.
“But most importantly it is about being built into a world class fighter. I said three years from my last fight I wanted to be a world champion. I obviously have not fought since then, so it is three years from now. That will take me to 30 years of age, I will be in my prime.”
His cousin Sebastian’s tragic death this summer will be a huge motivation for Harlem as he continues his professional boxing path.
“This was a journey Seb and I started together when I was 18, all those trips, all those experiences. We had so many common passions,” said Harlem.
“We were so close. When he was in Dubai he would fly back and watch me fight. He would make so much effort to come and see me. I know he is going to be close to me all the way through. I’m carrying that in me when I fight and I am going to make him proud.
“We were always on the same mission in our thinking. He was one of the closest people to me, family or friend. I know he will always be with me and want me to push forward in boxing.”
There is no doubt that Eubank is now able to push forward more than ever.
Main image: Promoter Kalle Sauerland and Harlem Eubank. Photo: Wasserman Boxing.