Wasem Said, a Cardiff boxing coach, has been unveiled as the UK-wide winner for the Sports Category in the 2020 National Lottery Awards.
The awards are given to inspirational individuals who do extraordinary things with the help of National Lottery funding.
The 29-year-old was given the award for turning his life around through boxing and for his work in the community during the coronavirus pandemic.
With support from the National Lottery, Wasem - a mixed martial arts fighter - opened the Tiger Bay Amateur Boxing Club in Butetown,Cardiff two years ago as a tribute to his former mentor, champion boxer, Pat Thomas.
Alongside promoting the sport, Said and the coaches work to combat antisocial behaviour and prevent intolerance by creating a cohesive community of all religions, races, and nationalities.
During the lockdown, Wasem also led a team of young volunteers, distributing 120 food boxes a week to vulnerable, shielding families.
He said: “It gets the young people motivated instead of them sitting in the house.
“It builds a relationship between us and our elders, it helps keep the boys on the straight and narrow and it teaches them at a young age that you have to be good in order to receive good.”
Wasem has personal experience of the problems young people face in the community but through boxing he has managed to turn his life around. The discipline and skills he gained landed him a job in security and he turned his back on his old life.
Delighted with his win, he said: “This award is for everyone in Butetown and I hope it installs confidence in the young people we work with, and shows them that hard work in your community really pays off.
“We don’t normally receive positive awards like this in our community and this is a real boost for us. Tiger Bay ABC is only at the start of its journey and I hope this award can propel us towards bigger and better things for the people of Butetown in future.”
David Haye, a former heavyweight and cruiserweight world champion (aka The Hayemaker) congratulated Wasem for his win and sent him a personal message to thank him for all his work.
He said: “I’ve heard how Wasem has done some amazing things for Tiger Bay Boxing Club and the wider community. From distributing hundreds of boxes to the vulnerable and being an inspirational role model to young people.”
“I know first-hand how keeping kids on the straight and narrow and off the streets is imperative to many kids’ futures. Wasem is a credit to Butetown, Cardiff and he should be truly proud of the work he has done for the community. Congratulations on winning the 2020 National Lottery Award for Sport.”
This isn’t the first award that Said has won this year. He was the 2020 winner of the Community Spirit Award at the St David Awards. Under his leadership, membership has grown at the Boxing club to over 300 children and young people, some of whom Wasem has helped steer away from drugs and knife crime.
He was among more than 5,000 extraordinary individuals nominated for a 2020 National Lottery Award and is the only Welsh winner this year.