Ali: “In the future, I dream of winning an international boxing competition as a Ukrainian boxer.”
The young refugee athlete dreams of pursuing a sports career in Ukraine!
Akimi Ali, an 18-year-old sportsman training in the Chernomor boxing school in Odessa, opens his backpack and pulls out a pile of yellow and blue ribbons with gold medals, most of which feature the number “1”. “Most of them are from children’s competitions five years ago, but there are some that I’m really proud of,” says Ali as he smiles shyly.
Ali’s parents fled to Ukraine from Afghanistan seven years ago to save their children from the dangers that they faced in their war-torn country. “My father is a butcher and my mother is a housewife, she takes care of four children,” says Ali. Initially, the family moved to Kazakhstan, but they were unable to obtain asylum there, so they moved to Ukraine. Ali learned a little Russian and was able to enter the fifth grade of school in Odessa. Now his level of language proficiency is very high, he speaks almost without an accent. He also plans to study Ukrainian.
Four or five times a week he goes for training at the club “Chernomor” with his coach, Eduard Alexandrovich Lutsker. Over the past five years, Ali has participated in more than 50 competitions in different cities of Ukraine.
“Due to the fact that Ali does not have citizenship, he cannot take part in official regional and national competitions, only in the “open ring” competitions. The main difficulty here is that such a restriction does not make it possible to truly assess the level of the boxer at regional and national levels. After all, only in the match can you understand who is the best,” explains the coach.
Ali does not know if he will have such an opportunity. Last year, his parents were not able to obtain Ukrainian citizenship. “I was very worried when my parents were unable to get the necessary documents, but my father reassured me and told me not to lose hope. In truth, I consider myself a Ukrainian. I study here. My friends are Ukrainians. I want to win in competitions under the Ukrainian flag.”
Ali says he watches regional and national boxing champions in his weight class on television. Ali has also been able to fight many of those he saw on television. Therefore, he was able to have an idea of his level. “I’m doing well, so I hope one day I can compete with them and get confirmation of my level.”
Among the boxers who inspire Ali are Alexander Usik, Alexander Gvozdik, and Vasily Lomachenko. He dreams that he will be able to obtain Ukrainian citizenship and one day win a an international boxing championship belt. “Of course, it will take a lot of strength and sweat, but I’m ready to work towards that goal,” says Ali.
“I have been working as a coach for more than ten years,” says Eduard Lutsker. – There is a saying that out of 100 guys who come to boxing class, only one remains in boxing. It takes a lot of strength to raise a serious athlete. I believe that Ali has great potential. He is a capable, spectacular boxer; he has excellent abilities, and most importantly – he is a real fighter. Ali performed well in several competitions, boxing really well with experienced partners – champions and winners of Ukrainian championships. I would like to see how he develops in boxing. It is always one consecutive step after another – first victories in national championships, and then in international ones.”
“My father says – if you start doing something, make it to the end. I know that boxing is my vocation, in which I have found adrenaline, energy, and drive. I’m not losing hope,” says Ali.