pic courtesy Rahul Sharma
It’s not often (never, until now) a boxer I’m interviewing offers to take me out for “the best kebab in the country”, but that’s exactly what Sajid Abid did. The super lightweight, who fights a final eliminator for the English Title on November 19th, lives in Derby where I was at University and the subject of the city’s kebabs came up. They do have very good kebabs in Derby, better even than Dalston, which in my experience was a saturated market.

Enough about food, although I definitely want a kebab now and so do you.

Abid suffered his first and only loss in July 2019, to another unbeaten fighter in heavy handed Venezuelan Rodrigo Caraballo. He has since rebuilt with three wins including a brutal stoppage and an excellent domestic victory over fellow prospect Tom Ansell. Sajid tells me he came to boxing at twelve years old, “My uncle introduced me to it. I was quite lucky, sports were always my thing.”

Working in a bank when he turned professional, Abid became disillusioned and like many people in their early twenties, was unsure as to what to do next. Balancing the boxing and office work, he “got to a period after my third fight when I quit and focused on boxing. We had a family wedding and one of my uncles asked me what I was doing and I couldn’t really answer it at the time because I was sort of floor fitting, but I mentioned the boxing…"

“I always had a passion and a talent for it and he said he’d sponsor me for six months. I’ve never looked back.”

pic courtesy Rehan Khalid
After building an 8-0 (0) record, in 2019 Abid rolled the dice to step up and fight on a big card, against a dangerous opponent, in Jeddah. It was a risk and it didn’t pay off; 5-0 (4) Rodrigo Caraballo stopped him in the second of four rounds. Sajid has an endearing ability to speak with engaging humour and intelligence as well as the four letter bluntness of a fighter. He is brutally honest about that reverse,

“When things clicked was that loss. I’d outboxed this lad so as far as talent is concerned, I can fucking box… I just didn’t work hard enough. In the back of my mind I know I can always work harder.”

Knuckling down, using the disappointment of that fight as fuel, two fights later Abid picked up his first inside-the-distance win. Boy was it worth the wait, as he banished Sachin Nautiyal to the canvas and out of their bout. Again, the boxer inside him slips out. Nautiyal had upset Abid pre-fight and I enjoyed hearing his take on the statement win.

“That was really personal, he spoke so much shit. It was awful, I thought ‘what a little bastard’, I shouldn’t have but I did. It was pure emotion and the most unmajestic performance of my life. I just wanted to land a big right hand, I didn’t stop looking at him.”

Land a big right hand he did, and Sajid admits he “learned a lot from that fight”- seemingly that the affable man I’m talking to, needs to be shelved sometimes. “I can’t play the nice guy all the time, once I’m in the ring with the guy I hate him. After maybe I want to be friends with him but before and during I’m his enemy.”

Most recently Abid completed his first ten rounder, outpointing 9-1 (2) Tom Ansell 96-94. I ask if he enjoyed the experience and he doesn’t hesitate to reply, “No it was fucking grueling as hell!”.

“He had a chin and a half on him. He did start nicking the later rounds, but I did enough damage to him in the early rounds.”

Next up is a final eliminator for the English Super Lightweight Title, at York Hall on November 19th. Abid will face 9-3 (4) former Southern Area Super Lightweight champion Mikey Sakyi. It is undoubtedly the biggest fight of his career, but Abid tells me he is ready and serious, “I don’t ever take any of my opponents lightly, I make sure I train for the best regardless of the opposition.”

When I ask what he can take from Sakyi’s three defeats, Sajid is canny enough to see how those mighty have taught Mikey as his loss to Caraballo did him; “It shows me there’s three different ways to beat him but I don’t doubt that people learn off their mistakes like I did so I’ll make sure I’ve got every angle covered.”

I’ve interviewed dozens of boxers and when asking the questions you have to ask what their plans are and how far they think they’ll go. Most of the time you hear “all the way, world titles”, but occasionally the fighter is more modest. Admirably, Abid is one of these.

“We thought we’d be lucky to challenge for an area title but look at where we are. You know what, I’m lucky to have realistic people around me. Realistic, professional people.”

I put it to him that as with the Jeddah fight and loss, he is not afraid of a challenge, despite his modesty. “You know what, we’re working towards the British, I can’t see why I couldn’t fight at British level… Fuck it, if the right fight comes up I’m not shying away from anything.”

The show on 19th November, promoted by Steve Goodwin (Abid’s manager whom he speaks highly of) is a tasty looking York Hall evening, which Abid plans to bolster with a Derby army. “Hell yeah! I even have close people outside of Derby coming. My supporters always come through for me. That’s why I love them.”

After chatting with Sajid, I can see why he has such a loyal fanbase. Southpaw Jab wishes him all the best against Mikey Sakyi.

Right, I’m off for a kebab.

For tickets to his English Title Eliminator follow/ contact Sajid Abid


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