Conor Benn’s season is one of love and longing. This deep into the fight build-up, certain festivities don’t bear thinking about.

‘Loads of food is what Christmas consists of for me,’ Benn says. ‘Salted caramel mince pies… mmm, I can’t be thinking about this now. I’m not even going to entertain that thought.’

Other wintry customs cannot be wiped out of his head. Other harsher habits are etched on to the boxer’s soul.

For Conor Benn, the festive season hasn't always represented a time of joy and celebration

Conor Benn doesn’t believe the holiday season is always a time for joy and celebration.

Benn has opened up to Sportsmail about life as a youngster growing up at a religious school

Sportsmail spoke to Benn about his life growing up in a religious school.

‘At New Year’s I’m on my hands and knees in the church — repenting, saying we need to be forgiven for our sins or we’re going to hell,’ Benn recalls. ‘I’m like 12, 13 years old, they thought I had demons in me.’

When Benn faces Chris Algieri, a welterweight fighter in Liverpool this weekend, the darkness will once again surround him. Now 25, Benn is still honing his craft — 19 wins have not come without the odd scrape and bruise. His boxing training has not left him with as many scars as his time in school.

Conor, a teenage boy from Mallorca who grew up without the protection of his father Nigel was sent to school in strict religion. It had 30 pupils, but not much torment.

‘It was horrible — like a cult,’ he says. ‘I had things programmed into me which no kid should have. Or no kid should have to go through, but obviously it was all I knew.’

Benn wasn’t afraid of being isolated. Benn grew up in a gated home. What was the family’s home like? Relics of one of British boxing’s most pulsating careers. Nigel left London to ‘outrun’ a life of hedonism that drove him to the brink of suicide. He was born again, a Christian and member of an evangelical church community that frowned on his ring exploits — and punished his son.

‘Schools like that — which I don’t believe are very common — can’t do anything good for young kids,’ Benn says. ‘I’ve had to do a lot of work with myself just to see things in a different light.’

Counselling and therapy helped to ease the suffering of this half-decade. ‘It probably took about two years of un-programming, rewinding to realise this is not how it’s supposed to be,’ Benn says.

‘It definitely had an impact on me. Even into my relationship, the way I was, the way I disliked my parents — me and dad had a rocky relationship until I was 18.’

At present, Benn is gearing up to fight against Chris Algieri in Liverpool this weekend

At present, Benn is gearing up to fight against Chris Algieri in Liverpool this weekend

Benn is the son of boxing legend Nigel Benn but their relationship hasn't always been smooth

Benn, the son of Nigel Benn boxing icon Nigel Benn, has not always had a smooth relationship.

They warned pupils about the imminent arrival of the Antichrist. They were prepared for the destruction of the entire world. He believed God peered down ‘with a magnifying glass and a whip’.

‘I’d get detention all the time. I got suspended for writing a love note to a girl,’ he remembers.

‘That may have been why they thought I had demons. You know what, I have never kissed her. I threw a love note over to her desk.’

The day started with students pledging allegiance and putting their hands on the ground. As for lessons?

‘You’d sit down and put your flag up and the teacher would come to you if you needed any assistance,’ Benn recalls. ‘It’s like home-schooling. The school only had 30 students. I’m still working on forgiving the teachers.’

They were convinced he was worth saving. ‘I was an energetic kid. I didn’t do my school work, and that was it. For them to go, “We think your son needs deliverance…” what are you talking about?’ Benn snaps. ‘It was nothing for them to say: “Oh, you have demons in you”.’

They dished out punishment aplenty — ‘You know what it says in the Bible about discipline.’

He suffered the most damage between his ears. ‘Thinking there was always something wrong with me. Or why I was a certain way, and why all the other kids weren’t,’ he explains. ‘Being told I’m this, I’m that, the world is coming to an end, on New Year’s we were repenting on our hands and knees — the antichrist is coming and the world is coming to an end. I’m a kid, what rubbish are you lot talking about? You’ve ruined so many lives.’

It took seven days to complete the operation. Monday through Friday at school; Fridays in youth club and Sunday school. Benn was a volunteer to play the guitar at church. Every misstep could have serious consequences at home.

‘Obviously when you go home and tell your dad, “I’ve just been suspended”, it doesn’t sound good. They said I pushed over a teacher,’ the boxer continues. ‘Never, ever would I push over a teacher, she was an old lady!’

Upstairs at a farmhouse gym in Essex, Benn’s wife Victoria stands nearby. They will soon be celebrating their first Christmas together with Eli Clay, their son. Benn has already started to prepare for his role as Santa Claus. The pain of his own schooling has forced him to consider Eli’s education, too.

‘I will put him in a religious school but I will be heavily keeping an eye out,’ he says.

‘Religion applies good, old school morals — manners and respect are qualities I love so I’ve dedicated my son’s life to God but it’s about relationship, not religion. You ain’t got to get down on your hands and knees and pray on New Year’s.’

These days, the father-son relationship has been a huge plus point in his life and career

The father-son bond is a major plus in his career and life.

Benn pictured going through his paces in the gym ahead of his impending Algieri showdown

Benn was pictured working out in the gym before his Algieri match.

Benn doesn’t harbor any resentment against his parents. This is a difficult subject to be sure.

Benn says: ‘Now my mum would cry if she speaks about it, “Son I’m so, so sorry”. I say, “Mum, you thought it was the right thing, you can’t put that on yourself”.

‘I’m just glad my parents see it for what it is. I love my parents.’

Benn is a charming, thoughtful fighter who has a fierce streak. Benn is also a man of God. Within the tapestry of ink that weaves across Benn’s torso, down his arms and up around his neck, the words ‘Fear God’ are etched across his midriff.

He was able to keep his faith despite all the pain. ‘It hasn’t at all because I found God for myself,’ he explains. Benn makes a stop to pray every morning on his way to the gym. This peace required that Benn take a detour.

‘You completely rebel and go against everything (school) say,’ he says. ‘That isn’t what faith is about, it isn’t what religion is about. It’s about relationship over religion.’

Benn pictured celebrating alongside his father in 2016 after defeating Luke Keleher

After defeating Luke Keleher in 2016, Benn was pictured with his father celebrating.

Fortunately, those overseeing Benn’s boxing education strike a more compassionate balance. Tony Sims, who has supported Benn since the start of his career, now works with Algieri and Co to bring about their mutual goals.

‘Exactly,’ Benn laughs. ‘I don’t listen to many people — you could have anyone come in and try to tell me what to do. I wouldn’t listen. If someone else was in my corner, I wouldn’t fight.’

Benn’s boxing still needs refining as he climbs the sport’s slippery slope. He is less dedicated to his work.

‘I get up at 3am, I train hard. My whole life is about discipline and structure,’ Benn adds.

‘My childhood has moulded me into the man I am… disciplined at school, disciplined at home. Just the way I am — discipline is a key quality I have.’ Benn pauses. ‘Borderline punishment.’

Conor Benn, an Everlast ambassador. Visit to shop the collection. ‘Everlast, in terms of the brand, is legendary. Everlast brings to mind Ali. These great fighters are what you associate with Everlast. Benn explained that being part of the Everlast clan is so a blessing.