CAPE TOWN – It may be an overused cliche, but I feel that “Local is Lekker” can’t be said enough times, until all South Africans start practicing that proverb.
And Farhaaz Sayed agrees.
“It's our duty to make our country great and to cheer and push our own people forward. We are so good with supporting Cristiano Ronaldo, but not our own people.
“It is time for us to make a statement in all areas as South Africans and show the world that we can dominate, too,” says the Brice Boxing Academy student who believes that there are so many reasons for South Africans to invest and take pride in our own people and sport – especially in the boxing arena where there is so much room for growth and support.
Farhaaz has an aura of leadership and maturity about him.
Maybe it has something to do with the fact that the 28-year-old is the eldest of 6 siblings …
That aura could have also come from the fact that Farhaaz has earned his grizzled stripes from having to uproot and move on the regular.
“I've been living in Athlone (Rylands Estate) for the past 14 to 15 years now. For the majority of my life we've moved from home to home and lived in areas such as Kensington, Elsies River, Worcester, Caledon and Botriver.
“Growing up I was always for myself. I knew a lot of people and had a lot of friends, but most of the time I'd find myself doing things by myself.”
Being a loner, it makes sense that Farhaaz’ heart skipped a beat when he found Boxing instead of a team sport.
“I've been boxing seriously for the past 8 years, two of those years I've been boxing professionally,” says Farhaaz who became the Cape Town Metro Open Boxing Organisation champion, as well as the Western Cape Elite champion under the famed Emil Brice.
“We were able to go that same year (2018) to the nationals which was a five-day event with back-to-back fights. I lost on points in the quarterfinals. It was a devastating moment for me. I really dreamt of the African Games or even the Commonwealth games, but I had to consider a lot of things and one of them was to make sure that I help provide for my family,” says the businessman who later built his own gym (Team Phenom Boxing Academy), to fall back on “incase anything should happen in the ring Allah forbid”.
“I spoke to my trainer and made a solid choice to turn pro,” says the welterweight pro (2-1) who has a bright future ahead of him if his amateur record is anything to go by (16-4).
“After my professional debut my dreams widened, but it's as tough as they say it is to make it,” says Farhaaz who looks up to icons and stars such as Mike Tyson, Roberto Duran and Canelo Alvarez.
Farhaaz has an insane work ethic, but even with that comes the challenges of getting the right fights at the right time and at the right price, and sometimes it’s not always as clear cut as people think it is, especially in a growing environment.
“Without sponsors it's hard to focus just on training. Currently I work 13 hours a day and still try and fight my training hours in. I currently teach boxing and have worked with organizations to assist schools with anti-bullying programs or working at orphanages. I have also been invited to be on board the new Fight to Fame reality show, but I had to turn it down unfortunately due to the Covid-19 pandemic that knocked a dent in our lives. I had to put my dreams aside and figure out ways to bring in more income,” says Farhaaz.
Fight to Fame is a new reality show designed to create Hollywood movie stars out of combat sport athletes. The show which is being rolled out to 200 countries – starting early 2021 in South Africa – will see fighters compete in several assessments including stunt work, acting training etc.
The winners from these shows will then have the opportunity to earn a role in a Hollywood movie production and open bigger doors than just that of the fight game. A much needed opportunity in the thriving and still growing mixed martial arts landscape of Africa.
A great opportunity for Farhaaz to grab and leverage off to take his gym and his career to another level, however, not right now.
“I think it’s a brilliant idea considering what they are coming up with, I just hope that the fighters are all taken care of because fighting is a hard sport and fighters need that kind of exposure to make it,” adds Farhaaz who aims to capture the “most prestigious title in the land … the South African Welterweight title before considering any other promotional titles.
Farhaaz is as grounded as they come and he credits his belief system for that.
“Islam is part of me and I love my religion dearly. As a Muslim fighter I would like to see my people get behind me and show the world that we are not what the world portrays us to be, I've put myself in a sport where men want to be praised and feared but I want to love and change and I will do that through my religion and through boxing,” says Farhaaz who feels that boxing has given him a voice and a platform to change his life from positive to negative.
With his last fight and victory being in February earlier this year against Hamisi Kasangu (via TKO) Farhaaz is hoping to get back in the ring fresh in the new year.
“I am really itching to get back in there. I enjoy putting on a knockout performance for the fans, as soon as I know, I’ll let the fight fans know who, when and where!”
If you are an advocate of “Local is Lekker” then Follow Farhaaz on his social media pages on Facebook and Twitter.
For more details on F2F visit fight2fame.com.