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Weeks out from his second professional welterweight fight, Ballarat boxer Victor Nagbe is quietly confident. His opponent, Frenchman Sonni Abbib, is no slouch. Abbib was once considered one of the best amateur fighters in France, and Nagbe knows he will have his work cut out for him at the Wildfighter Boxing promotion in Port Melbourne on June 1. But the 25-year-old is hardly a stranger to big fights. “I reached a stage where I fought the world’s best in muay thai kickboxing,” he said. “I beat some and lost some, but the motivation died and I needed a new transition.” Rated as one of the best pound-for-pound kickboxers in the world, Nagbe graduated with honours from the school of “hard-knocks.” Born in Liberia, he first came to Australia as a 10-year-old, settling in Brisbane. Describing himself as a ‘troubled kid’, martial arts found him as much as he found it. “If you hang around the wrong audience you’re going to attract that sort of thing,” he said. When his mother kicked him out of home as a teenager, Nagbe found refuge with a father-figure who would later come to raise him. Unlocking his potential, he purchased Victor – who was 17 at the time – a one-way ticket to Thailand. Carrying only his possessions and a 12-month gym membership, Nagbe would have to find success in the harshest of conditions. “I lived and trained there and adapted to speak the language, he said. “It was a good experience. If I said ‘I’m not feeling well and wanted to sleep-in,’ trainers would throw a bucket of water over my head. That’s how they make a living.” Over the next four years Nagbe honed his craft, fighting his way to an impressive 54-wins and 14-losses. But it didn’t come without adversity. “When you’re fighting in Asia there is more corruption if you don’t have the right people with you, and sometimes if you win a fight, they’ll say you lost,” he said. “In the end I lost the passion for it and I needed a new drive.” Moving back to Australia, Nagbe decided to try his hand at Boxing, and has since moved to Ballarat where he has opened his own gym. After securing a win in his first professional fight six weeks ago, Nagbe said a win next month would help him take the next step in becoming a world-champion. It might not be an unrealistic claim. Long-time boxing trainer Tony Salta, who agreed to train Nagbe six months ago, said the former kickboxing champion was a ‘ready-made product.’ “You don’t get those accolades if you can’t fight,” he said. “I rated him very highly the moment he walked into my gym because he has all the natural skills and ability.” Salta said as long as he stays on track, there are no limitations to what Nagbe could do. “I’ve trained some great fighters, but to tell you the truth, this time next year he will probably be the owner of one of the world-titles,” he said.

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