Ohara Davies: Boxing has saved my life
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Unbeaten Homerton boxer Ohara Davies believes he’d either be dead or in prison had he continued along the path he was going down before entering the sport.
Speaking candidly to the Gazette, the 24-year-old, who was crowned WBC Silver super-lightweight champion after a unanimous points win over Andrea Scarpa at Wembley Arena on Saturday night, is relieved and thankful he went down the route of boxing as otherwise he might not be here to tell the story.
He said: “Without boxing I’d probably be dead or in jail. I wasn’t on a good path in my life before I got into boxing. I wasn’t doing anything productive with my time.
“If I carried on the path that I was on I might not be here now and that’s a scary thought. I’ve come a long way since those dark days and I’m happy and settled in my life now – boxing has saved me.”
Davies takes solace from the fact that many of the people he used to hang around with on the Hackney estates have, like himself, turned their lives around too.
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He added: “A lot of the people I used to hang around with when I was younger are doing something good with their lives now – they’ve got off that path.
“They’ve got a job or own a business and some of them are involved in music or trying to get involved in sports in some form. That’s been really encouraging as it shows that anyone can turn their life around if they really want to.
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“There’s obviously a few people still living that lifestyle, I know a couple that are in jail. Everyone has gone in different directions.”
Davies, who is now ranked third in his division behind stablemate and world champion Ricky Burns and Jack Catterall, is outspoken on social media and never scared of voicing his opinion – something he says other boxers don’t do as they are too busy trying to impress certain people.
He added: “In boxing most people hide their true character and personality because they want to impress people – but that’s not me.”
Davies added: “Why can’t people just be themselves? I’m the same way off camera as I am on it. I would rather be real with people and show the public the real me, and not give off a fake persona.
“I’ve always been like that. Boxing is a disciplined sport, so the mindset I’ve always had is to keep humble, keep my head down and train as much as I can.”
Davies’ journey from being enticed into the underground gang and drugs culture in Hackney as a youngster, to becoming one of the most promising boxers in the professional ranks is quite a story, and with him every step of the way has been his manager, Charlie Sims.
Charlie, whose father Tony trains Davies, actively pursued a career in boxing management after leaving reality TV show The Only Way is Essex last year.
Ironically the 24-year-old’s first-ever client was Davies, with Sims also looking after the likes of Ted Cheeseman, Martin J Ward and Conor Benn in his role as a sports agent for Wasserman.
And Sims believes the sky is the limit for Davies, who he says is destined for a shot at the world title next year – likening his boxing style to that of none other than Floyd Mayweather.
He told the Gazette: “Ohara was my first client so we’ve been together since day one.
“He was at the beginning of his career and I was sort of starting up [as an agent] in the sport.
“It’s been going great. We really look after each other, not only just as client/manager but as friends as well. We talk to each other even when he’s not boxing.
“Ohara’s a good guy and has a heart of gold. I know he’s outspoken and some people can take that the wrong way, but I know the real him.
“His boxing ability is frightening. He’s got this sort of style which is very awkward to fight against. You’ll look at it and say he does a lot of things wrong, but at the same it works well for him.
“He’s got this ability of not getting hurt and picks his shots really smartly and making sure he catches his opponent with it.
“He’s got a bit of a Mayweather- esque style about him, he’s got a really great defence and a great attack. I think he’s got the ability to go all the way in the sport.
“A world title fight will probably be at the back end of 2017, but I’d like to see him go for the British title first early in the new year.
“It’s a prestigious belt so that’s something that is definitely on the cards and would take him one step away from his ultimate dream of challenging for a world title.”
Davies is some way off retirement yet but wants to leave a lasting legacy in the sport when he eventually does hang up his gloves, and says he won’t change for anyone.
He concluded: “As long as I maintain the work ethic and commitment I currently show I know I’ll be a success in this sport. I’ll always be the same person.
“The legacy I want to leave is a boxer that fought smart, worked hard, stayed humble and most importantly won his fights.”