Boxing: Nigerian Scot Lekan Obiora fighting fit with Kash Farooq in his corner

KASH FAROOQ didn’t have to look too far for his inaugural recommendation in his new role as St Andrew’s Sporting Club’s Head of Talent.

The recently-retired former British bantamweight champion gave his seal of approval to Lekan Obiora, someone he can vouch for both in a professional and personal capacity.

Obiora arrived in Scotland from Nigeria as a young boy and, after an initial stay in the Sighthill region of Glasgow, ended up settling with his mum and brother in Scotstoun.

There he would meet Farooq and a close friendship developed over the intervening years. Farooq’s recommendation has seen Obiora move back to Glasgow from London and he is now training out of the Renfrewshire Boxing gym in Johnstone with Craig Dickson, Farooq’s former trainer.

The welterweight is slated to make his first appearance – and second professional fight overall – on April 28, aptly on a testimonial event for his good friend who was forced into early retirement at the end of last year on medical grounds.

“Kash and I practically grew up together,” he reveals. “I met him when I moved to the same area and we went to the same school and had the same group of friends. We kicked about together a lot of the time as kids and then later we both had an interest in boxing which brought us even closer together.

“I lived on the Kingsway and Kash and his brother would come down to hang out with us as that’s where the majority of us were, kicking a ball about and getting up to no good!

“It’s such a shame he’s had to retire from boxing as he was such a star in the ring. He generated such a lot of noise around him when he was in full flow and the whole world could see his talent di lui.

“But he’ll take all those boxing experiences and pour them into this new job, I’ve no doubt. It’s a real honor that he’s chosen me as his first recruit of him.

“I wasn’t sure what was going to happen with me when he had to retire but he told me not to worry, that Craig would still train me and he would be there too to help build me up, step by step. And that just shows the class of the man, always looking out for other people. ”

Obiora only made his professional debut at the end of last year, a points win after a four-rounder with Dario Borosa in London’s York Hall.

The hope now, however, is with Dickson and Farooq to guide him the Glaswegian can quickly work his way up the ranks.

“St Andrew’s have been around for a very long time and have a great platform,” says the mechanical engineering graduate from Glasgow Caledonian University.

“I believe they can get me where I need to get to. In London I couldn’t get on many shows as I was an unknown entity and you have to be able to sell tickets.

“That’s not going to be an issue for me in my hometown where all my friends and family can come to support me.

“I first got into it when me and some friends joined the Argo boxing club in Drumchapel and did a lot of sparring with the kids there.

“It was probably, though, only when I moved to Cambuslang and joined O’Neils that it became more serious. I was competing and winning fights and progressing well.

“I picked it up again after I moved to London. Making my pro debut last year was such a big milestone as I was beginning to wonder if it was ever going to happen.

“Now I’m back in Scotland and want to take it to the next level. It’s great to be on a show right away and I’ll be looking to put on a performance for everyone watching but for Kash in particular, seeing the evening is dedicated to him.

“After that I want to go all the way, world titles and the rest of it. I’m in it for the long haul. ”

Despite growing up in Nigeria and spending the last four years in London, Glasgow is very much home for the 28 year-old and he is glad to be back.

“I’ve been missing family and friends so it’s great to be able to come home to Scotland,” he adds. “My mum, my brothers, cousins ​​and aunties are all in Glasgow plus all the friends I went to school and college with.

“It was obviously a big change when I first came over from Nigeria, a bit of a surreal experience. But when we first arrived we were in Sighthill and that was heavily populated with other African families, folk from the Caribbean, Asians and the rest so I was with people going through the same thing.

“When you stepped away from that area you realized it was a different environment in the rest of the city. But it’s good to be back. This is home, no doubt. ”

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