England boxer Delicious Orie: "You don't have to be from the street in order to make it.”

The Moscow-born boxer, who has a first class degree in economics and spars with Anthony Joshua, tells Olympics.com that he wants to show off his boxing IQ at the 2022 Commonwealth Games for Team England in his adopted hometown of Birmingham.

By Andrew Binner
Picture by 2022 Getty Images

Delicious Orie will challenge boxing stereotypes when he takes to the ring at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in his hometown of Birmingham, England.

Standing at a well muscled 1.98m (6-foot-6), the 25-year-old certainly looks like your archetype super heavyweight.

But looks can be deceiving. Orie started boxing late in life, has a first-class university degree in economics, is a big fan of meditation, and favours brains over brawn in the ring.

“I want to change the idea that all boxers need to release this anger, because for me, it’s all about individuality,” Orie told Olympics.com.

“Everybody can bang, everybody can get a good shot on them, but not many of them have the ring craft and the IQ. That's why I want to differentiate myself.

“As a kid, I always steered away from commotion and fights and stuff like that. You don't have to be this guy off the street in order to make it.”

Inspired by NBA star Luol Deng and boxer Anthony Joshua

Orie was born and partially brought up in Moscow, Russia. When young Delicious was eight-years-old, his Nigerian father and Russian mother moved their family to Great Britain due to a lack of employment opportunities.

The move was tough on Orie Jr. who struggled to fit in due to his lack of English.

But as he picked up the language, he became heavily involved in sport through basketball.

After learning the story of British NBA star and former refugee Luol Deng, Orie had a new role model.

“I was inspired by him. This guy came from Sudan, was displaced from his home, grabbed this opportunity and went on to play in the biggest basketball league in the world." - Delicious Orie tells Olympics.com on Luol Deng.

However, Deng was superseded in Orie’s eyes by another Team GB Olympian from London 2012, and one that on to win boxing Olympic gold: Anthony Joshua.

“I was 18 when I started boxing, and saw AJ on the screen for the first time, raising his first world title over his head - the IBF against Charles Martin in 2016,” Orie recalled.

“I didn't know anything about boxing, none of my family members boxed, and none of my friends did it, but for some reason I became instantly inspired.

“I found out about his background, his Nigerian heritage, the fact that he started boxing from scratch at 18-years-old too, that he's a heavyweight, and it all came together.

“In the least arrogant way I said, “If this guy can do it, let me go and try to do it too.” So I went into a boxing gym for the first time with the mentality that I'm going to take this all the way to the top and go through whatever it is I have to go through to get there.”

Orie still plays basketball for fun, but it was the individual nature of boxing that really appealed to him.

“Basketball is great, but in a team sport you can point the finger and blame others. In boxing it's all on you, no excuses. If you win, you're the better man on the night and if you lose, you haven't worked as hard or you're not as experienced.”

How Delicious Orie developed his own style

Over the next six years, Orie honed his craft in Joshua’s mould both in and out of the ring: dedicated, composed, and professional.

He even had the opportunity to become a sparring partner for the then heavyweight champion of the world.

“I was just like a little fangirl and I was a bit star struck to be honest with you!” Orie admitted.

“But it was two guys improving on their craft. The amazing thing about AJ is that he's got a lot of time for you. He was trying to bring me up too and is a great role model to have.”

But the younger boxer realised that he was a different type of athlete, and started to develop his own fighting style.

“I really wanted to emulate Joshua, just look at his body! But as I grew as an athlete and an individual, I wanted to be my own man. Boxing isn’t a street fight, it’s about thinking about the game. You’ve got to be clever in order to win.

“I do naturally reflect AJ with my textbook style, but I want to be able to box a little bit like Tyson Fury; just get a little bit more flare, a bit more flexibility. If I can mix those two stars together, I think that it would be a deadly, deadly heavyweight.”

It’s telling that Orie places high importance on IQ.

Unlike most boxers, he has a university degree. Even more rare, is that he was awarded first-class honours in economics.

“I've always been sort of academic, people call me 'Teacher's pet!' I love studying. I probably would have carried on studying if it wasn't for boxing,” Orie continued.

“I've got a very traditional Nigerian dad, he always said he wanted me to go to university, so I made sure that I ticked that box.

“I struggled with English a little bit in school because of the language barrier, but I excelled in maths because it’s a universal language. I liked business too, so mix them together and you get economics.

“It's something that I can potentially fall back on if I need to, and I’ll definitely will be using it after my boxing career.”

"When you knock somebody out in the ring, that's a very empowering feeling. You walk out of there feeling 6-foot-8 instead of 6-foot-6."

University finals exams are notoriously difficult.

But Orie also proved himself to be an adept multi-tasker, balancing his athletic and study commitments to come out with flying colours in both.

“It was very, very difficult. I would have to sit in my room working while my peers were out drinking and partying, but it was worth it in the end. I would say that boxing training camps were slightly harder than studying for exams, but it was close!"

But what was the most rewarding, finding out about his first-class degree, or getting his first knockout in the ring?

“I really don’t know! When I found out I had the first, I was overwhelmed and happy because all of the hard work had been worth it.

"But at the same time, when you knock somebody out in the ring, that's a very empowering feeling. You walk out of there feeling 6-foot-8 instead of 6-foot-6. I'll probably say the first was more satisfying, to be honest with you.”

Delicious Orie of Team England celebrates St.George’s Day ahead of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
Picture by 2022 Getty Images

Delicious Orie: The Road to Paris 2024 Olympics

Orie’s inspiration doesn’t come from anger, or to prove anyone wrong.

He boxes firstly to honour his hard-working family, and to inspire anyone that has had to move to a foreign land and learn a new culture, that they can be successful too.

“My family have supported this bizarre dream of mine ever since I started boxing. I do this mostly for them and when I step in the ring I'll be thinking about them, that's what's gonna push me all the way to the end.

“I want to go as far as I can as an amateur, which means competing in the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, winning that medal, and only then turning professional.

“I’m playing the long game. Just like an investment in economics, the experience will accumulate and the interest will be paid back over the next few years.”


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