BBC Sport’s Generation Next follows a group of inspirational young athletes, from a range of backgrounds and sports, as they bid to become our next sporting superstars.
Karam Singh has toured the globe, appeared in commercials for Nike and Apple, modelled for Fred Perry, hung out with Marcus Rashford and rapper Big Sean, met Usain Bolt, starred in a TV series and performed with ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ winners Diversity.
But the world champion breakdancer also works in a call centre and trains in his garage in Derby.
“It sounds a bit mad when you put it all together,” says the 22-year-old, who describes his life as a break boy (or b-boy) as a blessing.
“Covid wiped out everything so I needed to pick up shifts in the call centre, but it’s important to say grounded and hopefully there’s more fun to come!”
With breaking – which is a competitive form of break dancing – being accepted into the Olympics for the first time come Paris 2024, he certainly has plenty to look forward to.
“It divides opinion because some people see it as an art, whereas some like myself love it as a sport and a competition,” he tells BBC Sport. “What it’ll definitely do is attract younger people to the Olympics who perhaps don’t watch it now.”
He also hopes that by reaching the Games and challenging for an Olympic medal he can prove to fellow British Asians that elite sport can be a viable career option.
Singh was an “excitable kid” who loved football and boxing, but seeing dancers perform “really cool” head spins in a Justin Timberlake video on MTV captured his imagination.
By chance later that month the then seven-year-old and his family came across the Trinity Warriors dance crew who were performing at a funfair in their local park. He did not hesitate.
“I just went for it,” he says while laughing. “I asked if it was OK and the next thing I know I’m rolling around on my head trying to replicate the video I’d seen, but on stage in front of the whole park.”
Singh admits he “probably made a bit of a fool” of himself but the group liked his passion.
Three years later he became the youngest-ever competitor at the World B-Boy Championships – and sent the crowd wild by jumping out of a backpack a crew-mate had been dancing with at the start of their performance.
“I was so small and could just pop out, do some flips, crazy windmills, head spins and it all just erupted,” says the b-boy, who admits that from that moment breaking became almost an “addiction”.
In the years since his profile within his sport has sky-rocketed, with TV appearances, commercials and performances which saw him dubbed the “Anthony Joshua” of breaking.
That brought a level of expectation he was not used to.
“When I was younger and a little more cheeky, I had this ‘burn’ which is basically a finishing move at the end of a battle, where I’d pretend to grab them, throw them down, do a Ronaldo step over and then kick them out of the venue with a back-flip,” he recalls.
“As you get older there’s more attention on you and pressure to perform these crazy moves that will go viral, so I’d watch parkour, gymnastics and other forms of dance to inspire new creations.
“When it comes off in a battle it’s an unbelievable feeling, but most people don’t know how much work goes into making something fresh.”
Breaking may not have been part of the Olympic programme while Singh was a child, but he still loved the Games with athletes, swimming and tennis among his favourite events.
Becoming an Olympian and showcasing breaking at Paris 2024 would be a “dream come true”, but he is motivated by more than medals.
Badminton player Rajiv Ouseph was the sole British Asian athlete in the GB squad for Rio 2016.
Singh believes the lack of role models is a “massive issue” which has contributed to such low representation, but he insists there are “many” other reasons as well.
“It [sport] doesn’t always sit right with people’s religious beliefs,” says Singh, who is Sikh.
“Traditionally children are pushed down the academic route as parents don’t see a future in sports, but that’s mainly because we don’t have many idols right at the top.
“Hopefully having someone like myself at the Olympics will give them that reassurance it can be a career option,” he adds. “Then kids won’t be held back, they’ll have opportunities and we’ll hopefully then see more British Asian athletes.”
Breaking does not currently qualify for UK Sport support, but the funding body is investigating whether to invest and is expected to make an announcement later in 2021.
For now, creating paid videos on TikTok has helped supplement the income he makes by trying to sell people TV packages at the call centre in Derby.
“It’s been a tough 12 months. I’m earning only a fraction of what I did, but I’m the biggest advocate of hard work and no matter the obstacles I believe that if you can put your mind to something you can achieve anything,” he says.
“I always say, aim for the top because the bottom is overcrowded.”
Find out more about our Generation Next athletes