“I was born in a pretty rough area in England called Swinden, and when I was still a baby, my family moved to America for about three years because my father’s work required him to travel a lot. We then relocated to China which was obviously a very different environment.

I didn’t understand the people there very well and never really fit it. I also remember not seeing my dad a lot as he was working all the time, but my mum made sure I was a happy and active kid in China. She put me in a lot of clubs and I even did taekwondo for a while.

When we moved back to England, I got bullied a lot. Because I’m dyslexic, I got judged for being very behind in class. I was mentally and physically abused by the other kids in school; but, it doesn’t matter anymore because I’ve worked hard to be at the level where I’m at now.

We eventually moved to Singapore during the economic crisis when it was hard for people to get jobs in England. At that point, my dad also wanted to spend more time with the family; he wanted to make sure he was more available for us.

As I didn’t know how to defend myself in school, I joined a kickboxing gym in Singapore. I was the only kid there and I’d box and spar with bigger, older people all the time. When my parents saw me getting beat up one day, they decided to take me out of the gym.

Even though that experience hardened me, I still enjoyed boxing a lot. When we returned to England, I really missed it. I did a lot of other sports like football and rugby, but none of them compared to boxing. The sad part was that my parents told me I shouldn’t box again.

I also had to shift my focus more towards learning and books because of my dyslexia. School was not easy for me. I wanted to improve my reading and vocabulary, so I had to spend more time studying to catch up with the other students.

What got me back into boxing was an incident in college. Two huge guys who looked like they were in their thirties were picking on my friend. My friend was autistic and I told them it wasn’t fair to be picking on him, and the next thing I knew, one of them threw a punch at me.

I wasn’t expecting it, and his punch really hurt me. I was brought up to be a kind and good person who respects others, so I didn’t like the idea of punching someone outside the ring. Especially with your bare knuckles; it’s very dangerous.

And I know what I did was wrong, but in that moment, I just punched the guy back and immediately dropped him. I hit the other guy too and he was immediately dazed. They both quickly got themselves together and walked away.

That was when I decided that I really wanted to go back to boxing to see how far I can go and develop. When I’m not at school or part-timing at a pastry kitchen where I help to bake cakes, I’ve been training at a boxing gym in England.

I’m currently in Singapore during the holidays to visit my parents who’ll be staying here for about five years. I decided to join Legends after looking for boxing gyms in Singapore. I did a trial and I just fell in love with the place, you know?

Thanks to my dyslexia, I do get confused every now and then when I’m being told what to do. I’ll mess up my combinations and get my left and right mixed up; but, the coaches would come around to ask if I was doing alright.

That’s what I really like about Legends. Even though we’re in a group setting, the coaches pay attention to everyone, so you never feel ignored or overlooked. The boxing partners are great too. You see the same faces everyday and everyone’s just so nice.

There’s a mutual respect between the people here; even those you exchange punches with. If things get too intense, we’d tell each other to slow down because we’re all just learning. It might sound a little strange to say this, but it’s almost like a family here.

I’m gonna miss this place when I go back home at the end of August. But who knows, I might end up staying in Singapore with the rest of my family one day, and I’ll just come back here to continue boxing.” – Alex, 18

Interview by: Arman Shah

This story is part of an interview series called People of Legends, a collaboration with Legends Fight Sport. To read more click here.