Sports

Meet Derrick Osaze: 'Punching Preacher' making an impact beyond the boxing ring


When Derrick Osaze’s manager first dubbed him ‘The Punching Preacher’, he was not a fan.

“I hated that nickname at first if I’m being honest you know,” he says.

“It was my manager, Jimmy Gill. Even before I was ordained officially he was calling me the Punching Preacher and I remember every time I said it to me I just felt like a flame in my chest I was just angry.

“It just made me sound like a WWE character.”

But soon Osaze came to embrace his ring name after a realisation that he can take on a powerful role as a bridge between two worlds not often mixed.

He said: “After a while I started to warm to it because I understood the nickname.



Derrick Osaze is boxing’s ‘Punching Preacher’

“First of all it wasn’t a lie because I do punch and sometimes I do preach. But I understood that the nickname, it was bigger than me and it was more than just a nickname.

“For me it was almost a form of evangelism. It always was the reason for many interesting conversations starting with various different people I don’t even know.

“One, maybe people from the sporting world and the boxing world interested in how a man of faith, first of all how do you get into that faith and how does that tie into boxing.

“It also opened up people in the church to a whole different world of sport. They’re two different areas that maybe don’t always often mix, so since then I’ve seen the importance of it being more than a nickname.

READ  Man Utd and Barcelona 'rival Liverpool for Timo Werner transfer as £51m deadline approaches'

“I’ve had people approach me about advice, about their walk with god and people who have felt inspired to talk about their faith more boldly and proudly, so I understand now that it’s a lot more than just a nickname.



Osaze, 10-0, saw his life changed by both boxing and religion

“I feel like to a lot of people who don’t know god, who may not believe in god, to them I could be a representation of what it means to be a Christian.

“And vice-versa, maybe a lot of people in the church who are not open to the world of sport who might be in their closed communities in church now can see many people like myself trying to bridge the gap between the church and the outside world.”

Boxing and religion have both changed Osaze’s life.

He turned to the sport aged 15 after struggling with anger management issues and being kicked out of school more times than he can remember.

Later, he dedicated himself to his faith whilst a university student in Nottingham after finding something was missing from his life.

He was ordained as a minister in 2018 and has since launched AIM Youth, a project providing education programmes to kids.

He explains: “It’s something I’m very passionate about because, for me, where I grew up, I’m very lucky I had certain positive role models around me and certain opportunities.

“I just want to do my bit to help out and just give back and help develop the next generation. That’s something I’m really passionate about.”

As Osaze looks to shoot to stardom in the ring, he is well aware success could have implications for some of his plans.

READ  Former Commissioner Stern dies at 77, made league 'truly global brand'


Osaze now works hard in his bid to inspire the next generation of kids

But he insists that no matter the size of his profile, there is nothing to stop him making an impact.

He says: “Some of the massive ideas that I have and some of the stuff I want to do, of course, would require a certain amount of capital.

“If my boxing career puts me in a position where some of these ambitions that I have with what I want to do in youth work, if that enables it then great.

“At the same time, I don’t think that’s my motivation, my motivation is just I want to become a world champion and whatever happens, happens.

“Regardless of whatever money I make in the sport, that’s not an excuse for me to not try and make a difference now.

“Of course, it’s always great to make an impact on a massive scale but as long as you’re making an impact.



Osaze returns to the ring tonight (Tuesday) on the Ultimate Boxxer card

“I always say if we all got a stone and threw it in a pond, regardless of the size of the stones that we have, whether you throw a little pebble or a massive stone, it’s all going to make ripples, some ripples bigger than others.”

Osaze took his first major leap to boxing prominence last year as he emerged as a surprise winner of third Ultimate Boxxer tournament.

He beat Kieron Conway and Grant Dennis on his way to picking up the Golden Robe on the biggest night of his career so far.

READ  Tyson Fury laughs off Deontay Wilder request and tells rival to forget step-aside cash

He was due to return to action tonight (Tuesday) on the card of the latest Ultimate Boxxer Super Middleweight tournament only to see a positive COVID-19 test force the fight to be postponed until a later date.

The 27-year-old, now 10-0, looks back on his big win with fond memories but insists he will show he is capable of much more and ensure it does not remain the highlight of his career when he does finally get back in the ring.

He recalls: “In terms of, was it a boxing masterclass? No. Did I show my full level of skill and ability? No.



Osaze won Ultimate Boxxer 3, the biggest moment of his career so far

“If you ask me now do I even look back and watch those fights? Maybe sometimes, but do I look back at it from a technical point of view? No, because at the end of the day I boxed how I needed to box just to win.

“In terms of technically I don’t take anything away from that fight in terms of ‘oh I did this amazing’, I just did what I needed to do to win.

“It was an amazing achievement. Obviously it’s something that will go down as one of my fondest memories in boxing.

“It’s a highlight of my career and I say specifically a highlight because I don’t want it to be the highlight.

“It’s happened, that’s what it is and I want to move on from it, kick-on and go to bigger and better things.

“I believe that the tournament was a great stepping stone.”

Tune in to Mirror Fighting: One to Watch for the full interview with Osaze as he discusses his life and journey so far from faith and family to education and inspiring others.





READ SOURCE

Leave a Reply