When you have a back story like AJ Faizy’s, the boxing ring doesn’t hold much fear.
With his father murdered by the Taliban, AJ fled war-torn Afghanistan as a 14-year-old and found himself in care in the UK.
Far from the new start he was hoping for though, the young refugee was soon without a family again after the foster payments ceased when he turned 18.
Homeless, and desperately in need of direction, Faizy’s luck finally turned.
Taken in by his boxing coach Barry Higginson of Darwen, the adopted Brit is now a promising pro with dreams of winning the Lonsdale Belt.
Next out at the Oldham Sports Centre tomorrow, on the undercard of Jon Kays’ English super-featherweight title defence against Lee Glover, light-welterweight Faizy is looking to remain unbeaten after winning by a knockout on debut last October.
“I joined the boxing gym when I was in foster care,” explained the Lower Darwen-based Faizy.
“But when the payments were stopped to my foster carer I was told to leave.
“I called my trainer who picked me up and I’ve been living with his family since.
“It was a very bad time in Afghanistan, but I’m happy now.
“I’ve dedicated myself to boxing; I eat and sleep it. I’m a pressure fighter, I like to fight.
“I’m not a great technical boxer, I just come to fight. With everything that’s happened in the past, boxing takes away all the stress.
“I’d love to fight for the British title sometime. The Lonsdale Belt is the most prestigious. My trainer has told me all about it and I’d like to get a shot at that rather than a world title!”
Higginson and Faizy have a special bond.
Barry, who previously trained son Dezzie to a 2010 English lightweight title challenge, talks glowingly about his young charge and is hoping Northwest boxing fans get behind the fledgling fighter and inspire him to title glory.
“He had nowhere to go and was just sat on a wall with six bags around him when I picked him up,” recalled Barry.
“He’s a right good lad, really pleasant and appreciative.
“He’s at college, a volunteer at Age UK, and I just wish I had another 10 boxers like him.
“He’s also got the right mind-set for boxing, he’s a very tough kid.
“Boxing-wise there’s still a lot to learn but he’s got a big heart, he can bang and he’s in your face all the time.
“It would be fantastic if the fans adopted him, he’s exciting and there’s so much to him.”
Promoter Steve Wood said: “Boxing sometimes gets a bad press, but AJ’s story is a great example of the good that can come from the sport.
“He’s a terrific lad and an exciting little fighter.”
Faizy faces Birmingham’s Jason Nesbitt