Richard Riakporhe: South London boxer raised in ‘criminal slum’ stabbed in chest at age 15 by cell phone

Undefeated South London professional boxer Richard Riakporhe says he’s lucky to be alive after being stabbed when he was just 15.

The 31-year-old has won his 11 professional fights, eight by knockouts, and is on track to fight for the WBO cruiserweight title, but it wasn’t always life in the limelight.

Richard grew up in the harsh Aylesbury Estate in Walworth, Southwark. Speaking ahead of his fight with Krzysztof Twardowski at SSE Arena in Wembley on Saturday 2 October, he told My London: “Growing up there has been difficult. It was a slum ravaged by crime.

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“I saw crazy things when I was a kid. I was surrounded by drug dealers and drug addicts, and there was a lot of theft, shootings and stabbing.

“It was all just normal for me, or at least I was conditioned to think it was normal at the time.”

Richard started boxing late at the age of 19

When Richard was only 15, his surroundings were almost the death of him. At a party with friends, a man lost his phone and approached them, assuming they had stolen it.

Richard recalls: “He said, ‘Give me your phones and any boy who hesitates will be stabbed.’ “

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The boys refused to give the thug their phones and the three were stabbed. Richard’s injury was the most serious of the three.

“I was very close to death. Doctors later told me that 90% of the people who had been stabbed in the specific part of the chest that I had made would die. It’s so close to the organs and arteries, ”he said.

“This scar tells a story, my story. It’s a reminder of the things I have experienced in life and how lucky I am to be here ‘

He underwent surgery and began the recovery process. “Because I was so young, I didn’t understand the gravity of what had happened to me and how my decisions had put me in this situation.

“It is only now that I am older that I reveal how blessed I am to be alive.”

The injury left what has almost become his trademark – a scar in the middle of his chest.

“This scar tells a story, my story. It’s a reminder of the things I have experienced in life and how lucky I am to be here.

At 19, after recovering from his injury, Richard discovered boxing, which he considers his “way out” of this life.

He said: “I was exceptionally insightful about my surroundings, which motivated me to focus on the future.

Richard Riakporhe taking on Chris Billam-Smith in their WBA Intercontinental Cruiserweight title fight

“My thought was, if I invest in myself now and stay away from the gang lifestyle, I can shape my future. I didn’t want to get killed or go to jail. So my decision was to go to the gym.

“Boxing started to take all my time, I didn’t have time to hang around. And boxing, for me, is the perfect sport because it’s a lifestyle.

“The truth will show in the ring, so you have to get down to business. There is no better feeling than winning a boxing match. It is thanks to this behavior that I managed to get out of it.

Nineteen is a much later entry into the boxing world than most, but Richard quickly caught up with his opponents by watching skillful fighters and learning from them.

After training and learning the ropes, he turned pro in 2016 and hasn’t lost yet.

His secret: “It’s a question of discipline, it will set you apart from the others.

“My hunger and motivation kept me going. And visiting my friends that I grew up with reminds me that I never want to go back there again.

“The thirst to want to change my life and do something with it is what brought me here today. Will is real power.

Undefeated cruiserweight contender returns against Krzysztof Twardowski this Saturday

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