Isaac Chamberlain rescued himself from a life of crime to become a challenger for the British cruiserweight title; the Brixton boxer told Sky Sports about how he turned himself around; watch Chamberlain take on Mikael Lawal live on Sky Sports Arena on Saturday from 8pm
Friday 20 October 2023 17:10, UK
On Saturday night, Isaac Chamberlain finally gets his shot at a British title. The Brixton cruiserweight is well aware how different his life could have been had it not been for boxing, though.
Even at the age of 29, the violent scenes Chamberlain witnessed during his formative years are seared into his mind.
He too found himself falling into a spiral of running with a gang and dealing drugs and admits that had it not been for boxing he may not have turned his life around.
"Some of the stuff I saw when I was growing up was a bit crazy," Chamberlain told Sky Sports.
"Gang violence, stabbings, police raids and all of that. If you're grown into it, you don't really think it's anything crazy.
"I'd be selling drugs, or it would be 'give this package to this person, come back with whatever they give you, don't look in the bag'.
"You start carrying knives and holding things for people, and you don't know how it can go. The hole gets really deep."
Chamberlain was able to remove himself from a life of crime, but not until one particular incident which gave him a stark realisation of where things were heading.
It was at that moment he decided to cut off all contact with that world and dedicate himself to boxing.
"I picked up some class A drugs, I was on the bus, it stopped at the bus stop and we were coming out thinking the job is done," Chamberlain recalled.
"Then we see police doing lots of stops and searches, and my heart froze. My friend is telling me 'do this, do this' and I couldn't move, but then I saw him run off.
"I followed him and ran as fast as I could because I know if I get caught, I'm finished. I dropped the stuff at his house and ran home as fast as I could.
"I cut ties straight away; I was like 'I'm not trying to go through that experience again'. They were trying to message me saying 'where you at?', but I was not answering the texts and eventually I was like 'I've got to just focus on boxing, man'."
Since turning professional eight years ago, Chamberlain has compiled a 15-2 (8) record with his only defeats coming at the hands of current WBO world cruiserweight champion Chris Billam-Smith and the man he took that title off, Lawrence Okolie.
Chamberlain's attention is now on his re-arranged British title clash with unbeaten rival Mikael Lawal (17-0 (11)) on Saturday, live on Sky Sports.
He is grateful for finding boxing and the sport for helping him for becoming the person he wants to be, while the birth of his son Zion has changed his outlook on life too.
"Boxing allowed me to express myself in a confident way and made me believe I could be something," Chamberlain said. "Everyone wants to be the boxer and the guy who is beating people up - it helps me a lot.
"Being a father has changed me so much. I love my little dude - he reminds me of what I wish I was like when I was younger.
"I wish I had his self-confidence because when I was young, I had low self-esteem, I was very shy and I wasn't able to express myself the way I wish I did when I was younger."
Watch Isaac Chamberlain take on Mikael Lawal for the British cruiserweight title on the Boxxer card at the O2 Arena live on Sky Sports Arena from 8pm on Saturday, October 21. Also stream on NOW.