Venko Pulev had a dream.
He imagined he would have a son to follow in his footsteps as a boxer and become world champion.
Decades later, Kubrat Pulev believes he can realise his dad’s dream by beating Anthony Joshua on Saturday.
Venko was a heavyweight in the 1950s and, like a Bulgarian Henry VIII, he married three times in the hope of having a son to fulfil his ambitions.
After having five daughters, Kubrat was finally born in 1981 to give Venko finally the son he craved at the age of 54.
Venko died in 2007 aged 80 and Pulev claims he owes everything in his career to him.
“He loved boxing, like crazy, like a maniac,” said Pulev. “Before me and my brother were born, he wanted his whole life to have boys and his boys to box and be champions.
“He had this love and with his first wife, he had two girls. From his second wife, he had no kids and from his third wife, my mother, he had three girls.
“He thought ‘maybe God does not give me boys’.
“He tried one last time and when my mother gave birth, he went to the hospital, looked up her name, Kristina, and they said boy. He said ‘is this true?’. The people in the hospital said it’s no mistake, it’s a boy.
“That was me. He said ‘wow! Really, I can’t believe it’ so he called me Kubrat which in Bulgaria is the name of an old king, like your King Alfred.”
Venko’s other great passion was books and he had 10,000 of them packed inside the family’s Communist-style apartment in Sofia.
His favourite author was Jack London and he became hooked on boxing after reading Abysmal Brute and seeing it in the cinema 30 times.
Venko introduced Kubrat and his younger brother Tervel, who is the unbeaten European cruiserweight champion, to boxing.
Pulev, who likes to relax by playing Jenga, is a celebrity in his homeland and dated Bulgarian pop star Andrea for over a decade.
He is friends with Hristo Stoichkov and the former Barcelona star always sees him when he is back in Bulgaria.
Pulev, 39, first tried to realise his dad’s dream of becoming world champion in 2014 when he suffered his only pro loss to Wladimir Klitschko.
“I was too young, too green,” he said.
He was due to challenge Joshua in 2017 before being forced to pull out late on with a shoulder injury.
Pulev beat Hughie Fury two years ago to become the mandatory challenger to Joshua’s IBF heavyweight title and his moment will finally come on Saturday at the SSE Arena, Wembley.
He has caused controversy along the way and last year he had to complete a sexual harassment prevention class for forcibly kissing a female boxing reporter on the lips at the end of an interview.
Pulev, who has being running up mountains in Bulgaria to prepare for Joshua, likes the talk about the champion facing Tyson Fury next and feels this is his time.
“I’m glad because when he’s focused on someone else, he’s underestimating me,” he smiled.
“I know my father is looking down on me and I will fulfil his dream.”
Anthony Joshua v Kubrat Pulev is live on Sky Sports Box Office on Saturday.