Afghan refugee dreams of boxing in Olympics

Video Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on February 27, 2020 - Duration: 01:55s

Afghan refugee dreams of boxing in Olympics

A young Afghan refugee living in Portugal is attempting to achieve in 10 months what normally takes years of preparation - qualifying to box in the Olympics.

Libby Hogan reports.


Afghan refugee dreams of boxing in Olympics

Farid Walizadeh is fighting for a chance to compete in Tokyo's Olympic games.

The 22-year-old Afghan refugee living in Portugal is attempting to achieve in 10 months what normally takes years of preparation.

At the age of seven, Farid fled Afghanistan mostly on foot for Turkey making part of the trek alone.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) AFGHAN REFUGEE, FARID WALIZADEH, SAYING: "In my situation, I didn't have the choice to leave, because I didn't have family or a house.

Everything was destroyed.

So I left Afghanistan." Along the way he met a group of smugglers who stuffed his backpack full of drugs - saying it was sugar.

The then seven-year-old was arrested upon arrival in Turkey.

He ended up in an orphanage in Istanbul.

After five years in Turkey - the UN Refugee Agency relocated him to Portugal - where he was taken in by a non-profit organization for unaccompanied minors seeking asylum.

He then took up boxing and soon rose to become the national cadet boxing champion.

The rigorous sport, help calm his nerves.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) AFGHAN REFUGEE, FARID WALIZADEH, SAYING: "So mentally, I found the peace to sleep.

It's one of the reasons boxing takes my stress and trauma, because, when boxing, I can totally get focused in what I'm doing, so I forget what's happened in the past.

And that's helped me in trauma.

Now I'm training." Then last March he got a break- he received a scholarship from the International Olympic Committee to train full-time for the 2020 games.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) AFGHAN REFUGEE, FARID WALIZADEH, SAYING: "I work hard and I want to inspire people that there's always a second chance if they want.

I want to inspire, motivate people not to say 'ok, it's done, I've lost everything'.

Yes, I've lost my house, yes I lost my childhood, I lost my life, my country, my city, my family, but you can build everything again.

"

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