April 22, 2024


General Evolution

Delicious Orie, the boxer raised in Russia, built in Britain

BBC Sport’s Generation Next follows a group of inspirational young athletes, from a range of backgrounds and sports, as they bid to become our next sporting superstars.

“Some say I’m the new Anthony Joshua, but one day I aim to be even better and dominate,” says aspiring Team GB Olympic heavyweight Delicious Orie.

In boxing, confidence is crucial and this 23-year-old, of mixed Russian and Nigerian heritage, has plenty – as well as an eye-catching name.

When the bell goes he describes himself as a “relentless and aggressive,” warrior-like-figure who is “100% focused and obsessed” with knocking his opponent out.

In person – and away from the ring – there is no hint of the arrogance or cockiness often associated with contenders in his sport. Orie is calm, humble and appreciative of the sacrifices his family made to give him the chance of a better life away from racism in Russia.

“I was born in Moscow and life was harder out there,” he recalls. “We didn’t have a lot of money and some people didn’t like me purely because of the colour of my skin.

“I was seven when we moved to the UK and although it was difficult because I didn’t speak the language and there were cultural differences, I could see there were more opportunities for kids to succeed.”

Orie’s target is an Olympic title for his adopted nation at Paris 2024, but first he must secure British citizenship.

Delicious and Justin Orie in Russia
Delicious Orie lived with his family in Russia as a child and says his father, Justin, is his “inspiration”

‘I fight for my father’

Orie’s father, Justin, left Nigeria in 1995 hoping for a better life in Russia and although he met his wife Natalie while studying, he had arrived in a country where black people were often subjected to severe discrimination.

“Growing up I’d hear about how he’d been assaulted on public transport or refused specific service because of his skin colour,” Orie says.

“People didn’t give the support and there was no voice [for black people] so you feel like a smaller person and that’s completely wrong.

“I’d see how much he’d struggle, but he’d fight to give us everything he could and watching him gave me this zeal to achieve great things which is why he’s my inspiration.”

Orie found a love of sport as soon as he came to the UK and settled in Wolverhampton, but he had not even considered boxing before turning 18.

“My first love was basketball and I looked up to Luol Deng who was killing it in the NBA at the time,” says Orie with a smile.

“He was born in Sudan, migrated to England and then went on to be this NBA superstar in the US, who also competed for Team GB at the Olympics, so that was a massive inspiration.”

Mick Maguire and Delicious Orie
Mick Maguire has coached Orie since he took up the sport and is backing him to “surpass” Anthony Joshua.

Orie had hoped to attain a sport scholarship and pursue his own American dream but “passport issues” meant that was not possible.

Competing in the British Basketball League (BBL) – which is traditionally poorly funded and supported – did not fit with his aspirations, so he took a punt on a switch to boxing.

“My parents thought it was a joke and just a phase I’d grow out of,” he says with a smile on his face.

“My dad was worried and I don’t blame him because I wasn’t a confrontational guy who wanted to fight growing up and I knew nothing about the sport, but they supported me.”

Anthony Joshua and Delicious Orie
Delicious sparred with Joshua before his recent world title defence against Bulgarian Kubrat Pulev

To emphasise Orie’s previous lack of interest in boxing he had not even heard of Anthony Joshua until he won his first professional world title in 2016, four years after claiming the Olympic gold at London 2012.

Now though the Aston University economics graduate is a true student of the sport who has spent hundreds of hours watching boxing royalty such as Muhammad Ali, Sonny Liston, Mike Tyson, the Klitschko brothers and of course – Joshua.

“I’m trying to educate myself and I feel I have an inner fighting animal like some of them,” says Orie, who has sparred with Joshua on several occasions.

“Joshua is a massive inspiration because he’s a pro in and out of the ring who lets his boxing do the talking.

“AJ’s given me tips about weight management, ring craft, when to throw in a jab and to think he’s someone I was watching on TV who is now giving me advice is a big thing.”

Orie’s coach – Mick Maguire – has decades of experience working with some of Britain’s rising star boxers and describes the aspiring Olympic champion as the “perfect” athlete.

“He’s so driven, has a bit of everything and has a solid jab which is up there with that of Larry Holmes, Lennox Lewis and Wladimir Klitschko, who were kings of the world,” he tells BBC Sport.

“With hard work and the right breaks he can achieve everything AJ (Anthony Joshua) has and I think probably surpass that as well.”

‘I want to say thank you to Britain with gold for Team GB at Paris 2024’

Delicious Orie
Orie aims to win gold at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, which will take place close to where he lives in Wolverhampton.

In April 2019, Orie won the English National Amateur Championship heavyweight title, but nearly two years on he is still waiting for his UK passport to be approved.

Having lived in England since he was a young child, the boxer should attain citizenship through naturalisation and his legal team, as well as GB boxing, are confident the situation will be resolved positively in the coming months.

“It’s been a long, complicated process, but it’s worth it because this is my home,” says Orie.

“I might not have been born he
re, but I feel British and I’m determined to give back to the country which has supported me by winning these medals for GB – that’s my dream.”

Delicious Orie and the Generation Next 2021 line-up
Orie is one of seven athletes who will be part of BBC Sport’s ‘Generation Next’ along with (left to right) Amy Hunt, Karam Singh, Kyra Edwards, Elynor Backstedt, Tegan Vincent-Cooke and Ruth Mwandumba.

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