After years in an enforced wilderness Kay Prosper is preparing to bring home the European title this weekend, writes Declan Taylor
THERE is a certain sense of irony that a man forbidden from leaving Great Britain for more than three decades will get his chance to finally break through on Spanish soil. Kay Prosper had resigned himself to a life without travel due to legislation which dates all the way back to Margaret Thatcher’s time in office which prevented him from owning a British passport.
He had to watch his friends jet off on holiday every summer while he stayed in England, a place, he says, where he felt like an alien. Any dreams of boxing in America, meanwhile, had no chance of becoming reality.
But, as a result of the reaction in 2020 to the Windrush Scandal, Prosper finally won his fight to be recognised as a British citizen and will now proudly fly the flag when he challenges for the European super-lightweight title against Sandor Martin in Barcelona on Friday (April 23).
“I was born in England but they didn’t want to give me a passport because my parents are not automatically British,” says Prosper, whose mother arrived from St Lucia and whose father arrived from Africa. “Margaret Thatcher made a rule – if you’re born after 1983 you’re not automatically British unless your parents are British and you have to jump through loads of different hoops because I didn’t have all the documents that I needed.
“I was born in Luton, Dunstable and lived there all my life, never been anywhere else but they said I was stateless and told me to try and get citizenship for a country that I’ve never been before which was St Lucia. I’ve never even been there, I know nothing about that country. I had just accepted that I would never be able to travel but then that all changed when the Windrush scandal went down.
“It was very stressful and it made me feel like I wasn’t wanted and that I wasn’t part of something. But now after all this I’m finally flying the flag for the UK and I’m going to bring the European title back to the UK and push on from there.”
Prosper, 36, is a big underdog against Martin, the local man and defending champion, in what is the latest card on Matchroom’s Spanish sojourn. The Luton native had been plotting a path to a shot at the British title with victories over Sam O’Maison and Bilal Rehman until, like many others, all plans were scuppered by COVID.
“Really 2020 was supposed to be a big year for me,” he adds. “The win against Rehman in March was an eliminator for the British so I was expecting to get a shot straight away.
“Then everything stopped and it didn’t happen. But Steve Goodwin was putting my name out there for different opportunities and he put it to Matchroom that I could fight in this one. Matchroom sent us the contracts and we jumped on it. This all happened around January time, even though I’m jumping two or three levels, it’s a level I feel like I should be fighting at anyway.
“It’s a massive deal. It’s what we’ve been calling for for a long time. I’ve been boxing on small hall shows for my whole career just hoping for a break-out fight and it’s finally here.”
However, Prosper was forced to wait just a little while longer when the initial March 26 date was pushed back because of travel restrictions enforced due to the pandemic. However, the postponement has actually worked in his favour.
The Luton man is trained by Xavier Miller, who would have been absent for the initial date due because he was busy with another of his fighters, Dillian Whyte, who took on Alexander Povetkin in Gibraltar 24 hours later. Now Miller can be present.
Prosper says: “It has worked out really well. Xavier is my head trainer, I’ve been with him for two years now. There is a great energy in the camp especially after Dillian’s win against Povetkin. Actually my first ever trip abroad after getting my passport was out to Portugal for training camp out there. It has been so valuable to be working alongside guys like him.
“Obviously he didn’t get the win in the first fight but Xav put a lot of time and effort into it and showed how much of a good coach he is and got the tactics perfect for the rematch. He did the business so now we are just building towards my fight.
“Everyone on the team wants to be at the top level and we know what it takes now. Seeing Dillian, seeing how hard he works, has upped everyone’s game. We are all aspiring to reach that level.”
Whyte put a violent full stop on the end of his Povetkin chapter by destroying the Russian in the fourth round of their Gibraltar encounter. Now Prosper, 14-1-1 (7), insists he will need to be similarly explosive if he wants to mark only his second foreign trip with a victory.
“Just look at what has happened in all these boxing bubbles, underdogs have been getting victories,” he says. “Before COVID maybe we weren’t getting the opportunities but now they are coming and the underdogs are finding something within themselves to take advantage. I have that feeling now so don’t be surprised if I knock him out.
“I don’t want to say the sport is crooked but I’m going to his back garden and I’m not going to get no favours over there. I can’t go and fiddle it. I have to dominate him or knock him out. I’ll be going there with a maximum violence intention.
“The best thing is that there’s no footage of me out there. I think there’s one fight on Youtube so he can’t really study me and formulate a game plan. I’m sure he has trained hard and that he’s going to be in good shape but it’s tactical warfare and I don’t think he can prepare for what we’re going to bring to the table.”