Senior Boxing Journalist @JamesDielhenn
Whyte vs Rivas: The calm voice that steers Dillian Whyte's rage is his brother Dean
"I was older so had experienced more, and warned Dill of the perils. But he was hard-headed"
Last Updated: 17/07/19 12:08pm
There are too many siblings in the Whyte family to count with your fingers but, as always, they will come together when the most hot-headed of the bunch, young Dillian, is unleashed into battle.
They have always worried about the scrapes that Whyte's recklessness has got him into, and it will be no different when he faces Oscar Rivas on July 20 live on Sky Sports Box Office in a fight on which his world title hopes rest. But the Whyte clan are, by now, well used to this.
"He was always a fighter," says Dean Whyte, the older brother and calm voice that steers Dillian's rage. "I did my fair share and I'm still lairy but I am more relaxed. I was older so had experienced more, and warned Dill of the perils. But he was hard-headed. That character, that stubbornness, that grit has helped him."
Dillian came to live in Brixton, south London, from Jamaica as a 12-year-old, joining Dean and their mother.
"He was different," Dean remembered. "The accent? People mocked him so fights occurred. We had to beat people up. He would have to defend himself. It's been a long road.
"He has always been a little ruffian.
"We've all come from the same background. Growing up in south London, or any similar region, is difficult. Coming from where we came from? There was no-one to push us or help us."
Dillian, as an unruly teenager, fell foul of the streets and the law. The success we see today was a pipe dream.
"There was a lot of trouble for all of us," said Dean, who is 10 years older than Dillian.
"If you're on the street you will get into fights or get into a gang. Even if you're not in a gang, that could mean you're against them.
"Back then it was better because there were youth clubs - you could play pool or table tennis. Now they don't have those. Kids don't have anywhere so they are just on the streets. It's harder now.
"Growing up, we had our fair share of stuff happen."
Did young Dillian have a lightbulb moment?
"He went inside but got off that case. That was a big turning point," Dean said.
"That's life - there is always a decisive moment. Bernard Hopkins spent a lot of time in the nick but turned it around to become a dominant force. A lot of underprivileged people go to prison before they realise."
Dillian worked as a nightclub bouncer before he was old enough to legally buy a drink inside.
"He was always a big lump. He had a lot of tear-ups on the doors," his older brother said. "It's a very hard job because drunken people wanted to challenge him. They want to push, not pay to get in, so you confront them, then have to defend yourself. It got to the point where he thought: 'I might as well do boxing'."
So Dillian and Dean found the local gyms, brawled in whatever discipline they stumbled across without asking too many questions. Dillian clearly had something.
"We used to go to boxing shows and I would say: 'this is my bro, watch out for him, he'll be the champ'," said Dean.
"But people would just say: 'Anthony Joshua!' I knew one day Dill would get there."
The sparring sessions between Dillian and Dean were vicious. There was no brotherly love when they strapped on gloves and let out life's frustrations on each other. To this day, Dean winces.
"In the Klitschko camp before the Joshua fight, they loved us. Everybody would stop and applaud when we sparred.
"Dill would get annoyed and say: 'you're punching very hard'. It prepared him."
A year ago Dillian's improvement meant Dean had to think twice before sparring his younger brother.
"Hell no! I'm too old, he's too young and he just wants to cause damage!
"But the other day I thought about it. I said to myself: 'I can still take this guy'."
Dean, now Dillian's manager, has emerged as a voice of reason in Dillian's ear. Three and a half years ago when Dillian was still a ball of pent-up fury, his rivalry with Joshua spilled over into a brawl after the bell to the end of the round. Both of their entourages, including Dean, piled into the ring and chaos ensued.
"I made sure nothing happened. But if something did happen, I was prepared. AJ's guys jumped in so I jumped in to make sure they didn't do any crazy stuff. Whatever way it went, I was ready."
Dean, the businessman with his brother's wellbeing in mind, now has a decent relationship with Joshua but admits "Dill doesn't like that".
More recently Dean was called in to placate a situation from escalating after Lawrence Okolie challenged Dillian. Dean calmed the situation down and says he respects and likes Okolie.
"I said: 'Please don't tell Dill because he will lose the plot'. We didn't want Dill to do anything that he might regret. I wanted a resolution.
"I will always look after my bro if there is a situation like this.
"But, if it goes the other way and we have to fight, then that's what it is. I will still back him."
Dillian has matured but his siblings and rivals know that the same street kid from Jamaica will emerge if his buttons are pushed. This is where Dean's role in the fight preparation is key.
"I tell Dill when he's wrong. I won't mess about.
"I say: 'you're not too big to get whupped'. He says: 'Old man, you definitely can't whup me anymore!'"
Watch Dillian Whyte vs Oscar Rivas including David Price vs Dave Allen and Derek Chisora vs Artur Szpilka on July 20, live on Sky Sports Box Office.