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‘I was stabbed at 15 and nearly died but now I’m destined for boxing stardom’ – EXCLUSIVE


A six-inch scar adorns the chest of Richard Riakporhe, with its presence serving as a stark reminder of the life he left behind to chase his boxing dreams. Born and raised in south London, he knows all too well about the dangers of living around violent crime having been exposed to it from a young age.

The cruiserweight boxer, now 34, grew up on the Aylesbury Estate in Walworth and found himself going down a dark path in his teenage years. It all changed when a night out with friends went horribly wrong, leading to a close shave with death which altered his outlook on life.

“I went out with a few of my friends at the time to a party,” said Riakporhe in an interview with Express Sport. “We came outside of the party and we were going to go to another one, just party-hopping. Somebody came over, stormed up to us, and started asking for our phones and trying to rob us.

“We didn’t really know what was going on until we saw people getting stabbed. I was one of three who got stabbed that night, just for my phone. Somebody tried to rob me. I’m lucky to be alive. It was one of those life and death experiences for me.”

Riakporhe spent over a week in hospital with life-threatening injuries but was eventually able to make a full recovery. It was nothing out of the ordinary, though, given that violent crime is simply part of life for so many young people living in disadvantaged urban communities.

“As crazy as it may sound, that’s normal in south London, people getting stabbed or shot,” he explained. “I actually became more conditioned to it, unfortunately, because it’s such a norm down there.”

Nearly two decades on from that fateful night, Riakporhe has turned his fortunes around and is on the verge of becoming a world champion for the first time. He will face Chris Billam-Smith for the WBO cruiserweight title on Saturday in front of a capacity crowd at Selhurst Park, the home of his beloved Crystal Palace.

Riakporhe is a firm believer that others like him can emulate his success in life by making smart decisions and working hard to create opportunities for themselves.

“I use my life as a reference for anybody who’s grown up in that area and didn’t have too much opportunity,” he said. “They can really make something of themselves if they focus and take action. It’s given me a lot of clarity about my purpose in life and why I’m here.

“I feel like I’m here for a reason and my destiny is to excel. On top of that, it’s made me much more calculated when it comes to making decisions. Who you hang out with, friends, people you choose to bring into your life. You can be around the wrong people and end up in really bad places.”

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