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Boxer Delicious Orie, who left Russia to fight for England, is eager for the Commonwealth Games

Meet Delicious Orie, the 6ft 6in super-heavyweight who left Russia to fight for England, was ‘starstruck’ sparring Anthony Joshua and is gunning for Commonwealth Games gold

  • Delicious Orie is eager to get fighting for England at the Commonwealth Games
  • Orie’s parents live around 20 minutes away from the NEC in Birmingham
  • He was born in Russia, but found a fast-track to citizenship to compete this year

It will take around 20 minutes for the parents of Delicious Orie to drive from their home to Hall 4 of the National Exhibition Centre. It is the final leg of a road that started in Moscow and ends in a Solihull ring, via years in purgatory and detours to Armenia.

‘No one has any excuse not to come down and see me now,’ smiles Orie. Not when Delicious could turn golden and write one of the most remarkable chapters of these Commonwealth Games. On his own doorstep from him.

Until the age of seven, Orie lived in Russia. Until the age of 18, I dreamt of the NBA and had never laced up boxing gloves. Until last year, the 25-year-old held a first-class degree in Economics and Management but not a British passport. Now, though, the 6ft 6in Wolverhampton fighter will carry England’s hopes of super-heavyweight gold.

No wonder family and old friends fancy a seat. ‘I’ve got a few guys I’ve known from sixth form,’ Orie tells Sportsmail. ‘It’s a nice feeling knowing they’re coming to watch me do something I hadn’t even heard about when I was doing A Levels.’

Delicious Orie is aiming to win Commonwealth gold for England despite being born in Russia

Back then, he was a promising basketball player with a Russian mother and a Nigerian father.

Even the fight that changed Orie’s life initially passed him by.

‘Who is this guy and what did he do to get to this place?’ Orie wondered in April 2016. ‘Because he looks amazing.’ Highlights of Anthony Joshua’s victory over Charles Martin the previous night had appeared on Sky Sports.

‘I didn’t watch the actual fight,’ he recalls. ‘I didn’t watch boxing at all. I didn’t know who AJ was.’

But Joshua’s maiden world title struck a chord. So I did some research. He discovered that AJ had Nigerian heritage. And that he hadn’t boxed until aged 18.

‘That really pushed me to go to a boxing club for the first time. The first thing I remember is the horrible smell of BO and sweat.’

I thought: ‘This is going to be my life for the next 10-15 years. How am I going to cope?’

Orie, left, is now hoping to do his family and friends - who live close to the games - proud

Orie, left, is now hoping to do his family and friends – who live close to the games – proud

Orie held similar fears a decade earlier, when his family moved to England from Russia. ‘These people speak English so quickly,’ he thought. ‘This is impossible.’

He had enjoyed ‘a happy little life’ in Moscow. ‘I was just the standard Russian kid.’ At least it felt that way. ‘It was my first language… I had a lot of Russian friends.’

But Orie noticed that he looked different. And that his father Justin struggled for work. ‘There were a lot of closed doors because of his background of him,’ Orie recalls. And worse. ‘He was a victim of verbal and physical abuse.’

Eventually his parents decided to pack their bags. The family returned to Russia every few years to see family. They last visited in 2018 and relatives remain in Russia and Ukraine, on either side of the battlefields now scorching Europe. ‘It’s like my whole family has been torn apart,’ he says of the Russian invasion.

‘My mum speaks to my family back at home and one of the biggest things I get from them is: people don’t want it in Russia, it’s just a couple of people at the top making decisions.’

Orie was able to find a fast-track to British citizenship, allowing him to fight in Birmingham

Orie was able to find a fast-track to British citizenship, allowing him to fight in Birmingham

Shadowed by trauma, Orie chases gold. A bright future is secure after four years at Aston University.

‘I was the boring student,’ says the total 25-year-old. It paid off. Eventually he shared the ring with Joshua. ‘The first spar, I was basically starstruck for a couple of rounds,’ he recalls. ‘I didn’t mind him hitting me!’

During his rise, uncertainty reigned. He says his parents’ residence status meant he couldn’t apply for a passport until next year. That hampered chances of a basketball scholarship to the USA. It nearly cost him his dream of competing at a home Games — and the 2024 Olympics. But with help, I have found a fast-track to British citizenship.

Now nothing less than gold would count as success. ‘Winning a medal for Team England is a way of saying thank you to the nation for providing me with the opportunity to succeed,’ he says.

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