Rakeem Ashaye Noble

“It’s just you and your opponent,” says Rakeem Ashaye Noble. “That’s all that matters, that’s all that counts.” It is only when he steps into the ring that the British southern area super-lightweight champion discovers if those long hours in the gym have paid off, if the sacrifices have been worthwhile. Getting this far, though, has not been a solitary journey.

How did you get into boxing?

I started amateur boxing when I was 18 and I pursued it for a quite a few years. I enjoyed it. As I progressed, I realised I could have a future in this. Once I finished university, I decided to go for the big one and see where my luck could end up. So I went professional. I haven’t looked back since.

What does it take to succeed?

Believing in yourself, persevering, getting through the hard times and just not giving up. Keep the vision in your mind every single day and keep working towards it, step by step, no matter how small.

“Having your hand raised and being called the winner makes it all worth it”

What are the keys to achieving your goals?

Determination, hard work, patience. You need to know that even if you’re going through hard times, it’s going to get better, it’s not going to last forever. If you keep working, eventually you get out what you put in. Hard work is unavoidable. If you want to be the best you have to work for it. You may be working and training around the clock, you may be feeling exhausted, but you’ve still got to get up and do it. Most days the training is the same thing over and over again – just perfecting it, getting it right and just becoming the best at that skill set you are learning.

What sacrifices did you make to become a professional?

Giving up most things that people just take for granted or that just come freely – going out, what you eat, what time you go to sleep, how many times a day you train, feeling tired, feeling lethargic, missing out on social events. But you don’t look at the negative sides of it, you look at the positives and keep going. I make these sacrifices because this is my passion.

Who is in your corner?

My coaches John Davis and John Simms – they've been in my corner for all of my professional fights. They’re my trainers. I see them every day, they correct me, they advise me, they show me what moves to do and what not to do. They are my teachers, the teachers of the sport, and they've got me to where I am today.

Was there one person above everyone else who made the difference in your journey to turning pro?

My mum has been supporting me, which I am truly grateful for. There were points when I could have just given it up, but the on-going support through thick and thin is why I appreciate her most. Her support has been there from the very, very beginning, from when I was just starting off for my first amateur fight till now. Sometimes you’re travelling 60-odd miles out of London to a place where you know absolutely no one, it’s all new to you and you’ve got to fight their favourite fighter. That can be nerve-wracking, but knowing you have the support of people who you’re close with really does help boost your mood.

How has she influenced you?

She’s definitely played a factor. Saying to stick at something you enjoy doing and put your all into it, make the most of it, strive at it, which I have done at boxing. That is down to my upbringing from her and my father.

What’s it like at the start of a fight when you touch gloves and are ready to go?

At that moment, it makes me feel: “This is it, I’m ready.” Everything I’ve been working towards, all the dieting, all the training, all the sacrifices, all the early nights, this is what it all comes down to, so I need to make it count. That’s all that’s on my mind.

“She has been there from the very beginning, from my first amateur fight till now”

Whose face do you look out for in the crowd?

The first people I look out for when I step out into the ring are my mum, my brother and my other family that have come to see me. Sometimes it’s hard to spot them with tons of people around, but that’s who I look out for because they have always been there from the start, so I expect them to be there till the end.

Can you hear the noise of the crowd?

As soon as that bell rings you hear absolutely nothing. It’s just you and your opponent in the ring. You might hear the odd shout or noise, but it’s all blocked out. You just channel it all into you and the other guy in the ring – that’s all that matters, that’s all that counts.

Describe that winning feeling...

That feeling makes it worth all the weeks, the months, the sacrifices. It makes it all worth it, having your hand raised and being called the winner. I’m living my dream, I’m getting to do the thing I wanted to do most. That in itself is a passion, a drive to keep going and going and going... do as much as I can, see what different levels I can push, see what championships I can reach. That’s the goal.

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