"I haven't given myself a limit, because you may then underachieve. If you give yourself a limit, you don't know how far you can actually go.
"I've just said to myself to dedicate myself properly to the game, and just see how far I can go."
That's the view of undefeated British super featherweight boxer Dennis Wahome. An articulate account of his own boxing potential, one that deviates refreshingly from the usual, 'My dream is to win a world title', narrative.
Despite turning over as a professional boxer a little bit later than most, there's no reason to doubt that Wahome (31) can achieve big things within the sport, possessing a perfect record of 7-0 and on the cusp of an English title, though the route to his current standing has been a little unorthodox.
The slick, southpaw style, twinned with the grace and pizzazz with which he glides around the ring, make it difficult to believe that Wahome only started boxing professionally at the age of 28. It's even more difficult to comprehend that the slender, athletic operator showed no interest towards sport as a youngster. Recalling memories of his childhood, he said, "Do you know what's funny man? growing up I was just not into sport at all, I don't even know what I preferred to do but maybe study or whatever."
Despite being initially disinterested in sport, Dennis took up Taekwondo, a sport to help protect himself and a sport which has taught him plenty, but boxing was always lurking on the periphery of his future intentions. "I'm glad I did the sport of Taekwondo before boxing, it's helped me a lot in terms of footwork and movement.
"When I first started boxing, it was something to pass time, I was already invested in something else (Taekwondo) and that's what I was doing so boxing was something for me to add and just to keep me from straying off into other stuff on the street."
Once Dennis began to box, his discernable talent was detected very quickly and he was encouraged to continue the sport. Although in true boxing discipline, there was no offer of a speed dial to the department of instant success, his first coach instead ensured that his boxing journey began with the basics; the jab. He was told to repeat the shot over and over again, almost in homage to the 'wax-on, wax-off' sequence in the karate kid movie, but Dennis understood the necessity to master the fundamentals. "My first coach, he convinced me to spar and get into the mindset of sparring and what we do, but starting off, he got me to understand the basics on boxing, I mean he had me learning the jab for like, 2-3 weeks! and how we throw the jab, so at that point, it was getting a bit boring, but then he spoke to me about moving on, what you could do from the jab and all of that, so then when I started taking it a bit more seriously, he then said for me to go to another gym which would help me develop further and that's where I met Xav." (Xavier Miller being his current trainer).
Xavier Miller has trained Wahome throughout his professional career, with the promotional guidance of Stephen Goodwin plotting his route to an English super featherweight title opportunity against the impressive Liam Dillon. The card headlined 'House of Pain' was originally scheduled for March 21st but was cancelled, as were all sporting events as per the Government advice following the Covid-19 outbreak.
The obvious disappointment is compounded by the very real possibility of a showman like Wahome, facing the prospect of a 'behind-closed-doors' fight with no spectators. "I heard that Steve was talking about fights behind closed doors, but I don't know if that is going to be something we're taking part in, I really don't know about all of that because we have to sell tickets, so I don't know how that side of things would work.
"I did hear that if we don't get back to regular things, then we'll probably end up fighting early next year or March, It's a difficult one."
If the bout did take place, every boxer would be expected to display a suitable modicum of professionalism, however it is difficult to ignore the peculiar lack of an atmosphere in a sport where-generally speaking-the greater the intensity in atmosphere, the better the fight. Speaking of the situation he could find himself, Wahome added, "I had a conversation with both of my coaches, I said 'obviously should it be that that's the case, then obviously, as a professional you have to be able to do what's required.'
"In the back of my mind, I just thought, having a fight behind closed doors would seem sort of like a sparring session, because it would be how you would be like when you're at training.
"I don't know whether it would affect me, but I do know that I like to perform with an audience, with a crowd."
With regards to the bout with Dillon for the English title, there's been very little in the way of inflammatory remarks, very few hostilities, but with one or two on social media suggesting Dillon-himself unbeaten in the professional ranks-may overwhelm the classy Wahome, the man nicknamed 'The Menace' was happy to respond to anyone overlooking his power and reiterated his confidence ahead of a future clash. "It's okay, because obviously I know my ability and I know me, but at the same time, they can only go off what they have seen and the opponents that Steve has presented me with. So I can't blame them for saying what they're saying or assuming what they're assuming, but 100% come fight night, when it's me and Dillon, obviously they will see what the difference is.
"With better opposition, my character changes. The better someone is supposed to be, the better I become.
"I'm not worried about anyone who doubts me at the moment."
Besides the excitement of documenting the burgeoning talent of this exciting southpaw, there lies a sobering fact that his boxing ambitions are anchored by the stability of a separate job, an alternative income that Dennis has continued to do, one which he has found himself to be incredibly grateful for in the current climate. The career of a professional boxer is a precarious one as it is and is not as glamorous when not under the lights and for Dennis 'Lights Out' Wahome, he realises that it can all change at any moment, as he quite aptly reminds us, "Nobody saw this coming." With that sentiment, I think most would agree that when boxing does reconvene, we will appreciate it even more than we ever realised.