Inside Dillian Whyte's training HQ at country pub in rural Leicestershire

Here in rural Leicestershire, sitting in Long Whatton’s Falcon Inn, he contemplates how the locals in this quaint parish reacted to his 2015 arrival.

One of British boxing’s biggest success stories, known as the Brixton Body Snatcher, cut to the chase and said: “I would imagine when a massive black guy walked in the village there might have been a bit of a misconception, because this place is not exactly diverse.

“But everyone is so nice now because everyone has got to know the real me.”

The story of WBC and WBO No 1 heavyweight challenger Whyte, 30, and Long Whatton goes back three years, when he had just lost to Anthony Joshua, a rival from his amateur days.

His team felt he needed to get out of South London and train for his fights at Loughborough.

At first Whyte would stay in Premier Inns. But when there was no room at the Inns, he stumbled across the Falcon and wandered in.

Back then the 6ft 4in bruiser, who is training for a rematch with Dereck Chisora on December 22, was known as “Dillian The Villain”.

He had just served a two-year ban for using an over-the-counter supplement.

So Falcon landlords Paul and Ellie Higginson were concerned when he first checked in.

Whyte said: “Back then I was billed as a bad guy, I didn’t care.

“I am not complaining, because I just wanted to be billed. I knew once I had arrived, I could start changing the image people had of me.

“I never had any support or backing, I had just had a few close mates around me who were guiding me and are still around.

“I never had any ABA titles or Olympic gold medal. I just had a dream and extreme self-belief.”

The Higginsons were soon won round.

And now they have adopted not only Whyte but also his two huge dogs into the Leicestershire retreat.

Playing with canine giants Hades and Zeus, as well as tiny resident Bertie, Whyte said: “The family here, Ellie and Paul, they see me as a son and I joke and call them my white family.

“The way they support me and help me, with all their staff doing extra things for me, I am so privileged and grateful.
“The minute I came in and met the family, it was like we had met in another life, we just clicked.

“They have become such a massive part of my life. We’ve never had an argument about anything.

“I get told off by ‘white mum and dad’. They don’t treat me like a celebrity staying in their hotel, they tell me straight.

“If Ellie had known I was speaking to you, she’d have had me up early and been telling me to speak nice. I leave one mum in London to come to another one up here!”

The Falcon Inn pub is a hub for the 2,000-strong local community — and everyone seems to call everybody “duck”.
And Whyte should seem like a fish out of water.

But a few moments in his company and a scan of his social media accounts reveal why he is so at home, so far away.

After leg-one of a three-session training day, he said: “After a fight I just want to spend time with my dogs and family.

“I do not live a lavish lifestyle. You will not see me on any boats or skyscrapers.

“A lot of guys are insecure about themselves so they show off. I am not insecure, in myself or my lifestyle. My upbringing made me the tough warrior, brother, father and son that I am today.”

Being a good son seems to be the biggest motivation in Whyte’s life, above all the belts and money in the business.

His voice changes when he talks about the little lady who worked so hard to raise him — and who has refused to retire early and share in his wealth.

She has, however, got her eye on a little pad if he ever decides to fly the South London nest.

And Whyte said: “She has told me, ‘Wherever you go I will come, too, but I will need my own two-bedroom place attached to your house’.

“I say ‘What do you need a two-bed place for, you’re by yourself?’

“But she tells me she needs another room to put all her things in — and she can have whatever she wants, she will always be allowed to live with me. She is my world.”

Whyte has a handful of children, the first arriving when he was just 13. He is fiercely protective of them and will not publicly discuss them.

But he lights up again when talking about his retirement and getting them all around him to enjoy the fruits of his labour, having come from life-threatening poverty. He said: “I don’t know what I will do when I retire, I have lots of little ideas and I have good people around me.

“I know they are good people because sometimes they tell me my little venture ideas are c**p!

“I am not with the mother of my kids but I do want some more kids soon and I want to enjoy my life with all of them around me.

“I want to have all my kids around, I want to watch them grow up and grow old.”

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