Inspiring Othman bids to do late father proud
October 22, 2019 | by Matt Halfpenny
A young boxer has bounced back from the devastation of witnessing his father being shot dead by masked militia in Libya to make it through to the England Boxing National Development Championships 2019 Finals in Banbury this weekend.
Othman Said was still a teenager when he suffered a gunshot wound in the same attack that sadly saw his dad killed.
Fearing for his life, his mother decided he should leave Libya and seek asylum in another country.
The then 16-year-old stowed away on a ship to Italy and undertook a gruelling and dangerous journey to England.
Othman, now 20, subsequently settled in Hereford as part of a refugee resettlement programme and joined South Wye Police Boxing Academy in 2017.
During that time he has made rapid progress with his boxing and booked his shot at a national title with a unanimous victory over Tom Callaghan of Northside in Sunday’s North Semi-Finals at Newton Aycliffe Leisure Centre.
“Othman first came along to the club with his support worker when was finding it difficult to make friends as he did not speak any English and was entirely on his own with no friends or family in England,” said South Wye’s lead coach Vince McNally.
“Luckily, we have a boxer at the club who speaks Arabic and a meeting was arranged to see how we, as a club, could help with Othman’s situation, with our young boxer Yusuf Abadallah serving as translator.
“During this meeting the story of Othman’s journey to England emerged and it was extremely inspiring to hear how this young man had overcome tragedy and extreme danger to make his way to safety in the UK.
“We were absolutely overwhelmed with the story we were hearing and we instantly invited Othman to come along to our sessions at the club.”
Othman, who now speaks very good English, has relished his chance to shine at boxing, which has helped him make friends and gain in confidence.
The 64kg to 69kg contender has also earned himself an affectionate nickname from his early days at the gym which has stuck.
Othman said: “I was coming into the club three nights a week and the welcome I was given was brilliant. Everyone took me in as part of the team and I instantly felt like I had a place to belong.
“Because I did not speak English, I would say hello to everyone I met by saying ‘Habibi’, which loosely translated as ‘my darling’.
“Very quickly all the boxers and coaches were also greeting me with the same in return and that is how I have come to be called by that name.
“I feel like the boxing club is my family and I know that every person in the club is willing to help me with anything I need. I love boxing and it has been a very big part in helping me with making a good life here in England.
“Now I’m in the national final I will be hoping to do my best for all my family back in Libya and for all the people who have helped me at South Wye Boxing Academy.”
Othman is also joined in the at the Final by another South Wye boxer in Rhiannon Roberts (Female 64kg to 69kg), who is pictured with him.
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