Born in Moscow and raised in Wolverhampton, boxer Delicious Orie is plotting the next phase of his already-remarkable life story at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham next month.
The 25-year-old super-heavyweight, whose father is Nigerian and his mother Russian, arrived in the UK with his family at the age of eight, but only managed to beat the red tape to secure a British passport last year.
Despite fading memories and a fractured knowledge of the language, Orie still also holds a Russian passport and has reasons to be concerned with the continued aggression in the border regions and Donbas, where many of his extended family remain.
Orie’s grandmother and aunts live in Voronezh, some 200 miles from the Ukraine border, whilst his mother’s cousins and children live in Ukraine, close to the separatist region that it is predicted will become the next primary focus of Russian president Vladimir Putin’s continued assault.
“My mum has always told me that Russia and Ukraine are like brothers – they stuck together and had a very strong relationship – so what is happening now is devastating,” said Orie.
“It is breaking families and tearing them apart. My family are fortunately OK but it is a horrible situation. Most people out there don’t want what’s going on at the moment – they want unity. (But) you have a couple of crazy people at the top.”
Orie feared his delayed bid for a British passport would derail his hopes of reaching the Paris Olympics in 2024, but its arrival last year rubber-stamped his arrival on the GB podium squad in Sheffield, and he put it to good use with a bronze medal at last month’s European Championships in Yerevan.
Now Orie, who is one of a 14-strong England squad named for the Games, is determined to use his opportunity to give something back to the nation he has called home for almost two decades, and inspire others not to lose heart facing similar journeys.
“I’m a British citizen – I might not have been born here but I did most of my growing up here and all I really know is England,” added Orie.
This is my way of saying 'thank you' to the nation for providing so many opportunities and opening so many doors. So many of my mates from school and even my siblings who held British passports from birth, they don't understand the power of the passport and how it can provide opportunities for you.Delicious Orie
“This is my way of saying ‘thank you’ to the nation for providing so many opportunities and opening so many doors.
“So many of my mates from school and even my siblings who held British passports from birth, they don’t understand the power of the passport and how it can provide opportunities for you.
“All you’ve got to do is work hard. In some countries, no matter how hard you work, the doors will be closed for ever. Here, the doors will be open for you and you will have the platform to achieve whatever you want.”