LAMONT Peterson’s chances of beating Amir Khan on Saturday night are rated as slim, but the challenger has overcome far greater battles in his life.

Underdog Peterson will attempt to prise the WBA and IBF lightweltwerweight titles from the clutches of the Bolton superstar in his home city of Washington.

But the fact he will even be in the ring is one of sport’s true rags-to-riches tales following a brutal childhood on the streets of the American capital.

One of 12 children, and with a father in prison, Peterson was homeless for two years.

“My father went to jail and my mother couldn’t pay the bills,”

said Peterson.

“We lived in a station wagon, then a shelter, Greyhound bus stations and then a park bench. It was tough.”

Growing up, Peterson and his younger brother Anthony, also a boxer, lived a grim existence of petty crime and extreme poverty.

Salvation came shortly before his 11th birthday when he met coach Barry Hunter, who will be in Peterson’s corner against Khan as he has been for each of his previous 31 fights.

More of a father figure than a trainer, Hunter recalls of the two brothers: “They were just coming out of the foster care system, and I’d hear about them sleeping in bus depots.

“They had hair lice, body lice.

I’d take them to eat once a day at Taco Bell, and they’d order so much food. It was the only time they’d be eating, and they wanted to take some home to their family too.”

With Hunter, Peterson won the 2000 Junior Olympics and 2001 Golden Gloves before, after missing out in a box-off for the Olympics in Athens, where Khan shot to fame, turning professional in 2004.

There has only been one defeat so far, against Timothy Bradley, when the 27-year-old froze on the big occasion.

His camp claim he is a different fighter to the one who lost two years ago, with victory over Victor Manuel Cayo and a draw with the dangerous Victor Ortiz both testimony to that.

Hunter said: “I watched this young man beat the odds his whole life, not just his boxing career, his whole life and I myself too.

“Living in the city – I’m not saying it doesn’t happen everywhere else – but we’ve seen things and been involved in things that just send chills up the average person’s spine.

“I’m only surprised when Lamont is in a situation like that he can’t deal with it.

“I’m just very, very confident because I know what we go through, I know what we’ve been through, and I know what got us here.”

Peterson’s story is a real life American fairytale, with only Khan standing in the way of a happy ending.