Birmingham 2022: Boxer Delicious Orie's tough journey to the Commonwealth Games ring

ITV News Central Reporter Mark Kielesz-Levine reports on the boxer hoping to inspire others at Birmingham 2022

When Delicious Orie steps into the ring in Birmingham, it will feel like destiny.

His path to being a Commonwealth Games athlete certainly hasn't been straight-forward and there will be two people on his mind just before that first bell rings.

The 25-year-old super-heavyweight said: "I'm doing this for my parents, they've always been there for me and I owe them a lot." 

DJ, as he's known, was keen that his journey to potential sporting greatness be documented.

Born to a Nigerian father and Russian mother, he grew up in Russia but life was tough for the family.

His dad, Justin, openly admits there were very few opportunities for a black man in the country and that he needed to move the family away to create a better life and keep them the very best opportunities. 

The family decided to move to England, and both DJ - who was at that time primary school age - and his mum arrived without being able to speak a word of English.

Not for the first time in his life, DJ would do what he could to learn the language and make new friends, whilst his parents worked hard to give him and his siblings a life that was not available to them in Russia.

But his goal was always to be a success in sport, and DJ's very first love was basketball.

He joined West Bromwich Albion and worked tirelessly at his game.

  • "I didn't come from a boxing background," Delicious Orie tells Mark Kielesz-Levine

As with any sport, some are just naturally talented. Whilst DJ certainly has skills, it was his heart, determination and focus that impressed his coaches. 

The aim was to get a scholarship for college in the US - but DJ's complicated citizenship status proved a hurdle.

Although he moved over to the UK as a young child, he could not easily obtain a passport and without it, the opportunity to go to America faded away.

Frustrated, DJ needed a new plan and a new direction and looked to one the UK's biggest sporting names.

Anthony Joshua would become an inspiration for DJ as he switched focus and decided that boxing would be his path.

Working his way through the Amateur scene, he found himself given a chance with Team GB in Sheffield.

His parents said they still remember the day when he told them he would get into the ring and the aim was world champion.

They had to ask him again as they knew that not only had he never been in a boxing ring before and his teenage years were ending, but they also knew the type of person he is.

Ask anyone - family or friends and they will tell you the same thing. Gentle, kind and certainly not the aggressive type.

  • "Very lovable, kind, respectful, humble" - Delicious Orie's parents describe his character.

Boxing is all about control and aggression is best used only sparingly in the ring where wit, skill and movement play significant parts.

But still his parents couldn't understand how their boy would succeed when they saw nothing in him which typified a boxer. 

Be that as it may, DJ has shown the sport has room for nice guys who use their power when they need to.

It seems staggering to think about it, but just five years on from entering the ring for the first time, the journey has already taken him to one of the world's biggest stages and he recently won bronze in the European Championships in Armenia.

But back to the passport issue.

DJ still needed one. He held a Russian passport but for obvious reasons, it made life difficult.

Despite being a UK resident, it seemed impossible to get the required documents. Without that, Delicious could not compete internationally.

But life is often about who you know and whilst studying at the University of Aston - where he would get a 1st in Economics - he met lawyers who ultimately would work with Team GB and the Home Office to get the passport he needed.

A passport would have eventually come through, but DJ had pressing ambitions and he couldn't afford to wait around.

Fortunately, his application was granted, and that was when his boxing career really took off.

He was able to compete abroad in the World Championships, clearing his path for Paris.

Instead of red tape, it's now about working hard.

But that's never bothered him.

Having got to know DJ, you realise how incredibly humble and down to earth he is.

Family is a big part of his life and he is acutely aware of what his parents have done to give him the best possible start in life.

They are his biggest supporters and he's keen to repay their faith in him.

Delicious Orie hopes to inspire others at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games Credit: PA

There's a quiet confidence about him, for sure, a calmness that comes from knowing the direction he is heading in. 

And so that brings us to the Commonwealth Games and the first phase of the plan. The aim is, of course, gold, but he knows he will be fighting against people with years of experience on him.

That doesn't phase DJ even though he does confess to feeling the nerves of performing in a home games.

DJ did get to spar with his idol Joshua which became what he describes as a 'surreal experience'.

If it all goes according to plan, one day that could be him inspiring a young amateur as heavyweight champion of the world.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To know...