Sabri Faruk said he was never all that interested in sports before taking up boxing four short years ago.
Now, the 24-year-old Maple Ridge Boxing Club fighter has a national light heavyweight gold medal to his name and will look to make his professional debut on the Hard Knocks at the Hard Rock fight card in Coquitlam on March 21.
Faruk is somewhat soft-spoken but his mood elevates when talking about the upcoming scrap.
“I’m excited, as this is where I’ve always wanted to be,” he said.
“It’s much easier to work hard now.”
No stranger to hard work already, Faruk has trained with Team Canada in Montreal, fought and won over 44 tournaments, and has three provincial gold medals, as well as a pair of national bronzes to add to his national gold.
His coach, Jason Burke, has been working with him for the last three years.
The pair worked well together right off the bat.
“When he first started, he tried out a bunch of clubs and I guess he was a hard guy to coach,” Burke said.
“A lot of people who called me said he was uncoachable.
“He didn’t want to listen to them and he just didn’t fit in.
“Maybe my approach might be different from them but we just kind of hit it off.”
Burke said Faruk’s potential was there and once he was able to gain the fighter’s trust, they started building something special.
“What I noticed with him is he always came to fight and he just had natural talent and I liked the way he moved in the ring,” Burke said.
Like many boxers with a bit of confidence, Faruk had a tendency to stray away from using his technical skills and got drawn into slug fests with less talented fighters.
“I got him away from that, as it was kind of how I was too,” Burke said with a laugh. “We both like to go toe-to-toe; but he’s a good boxer, who’s good on his feet and when you get caught up in a brawl where you let your ego take over, it doesn’t work for anybody.”
Faruk considers himself a bit of a chameleon in the ring. He likes sticking and moving but will get very aggressive when he notices a flaw in his opponent, noting, when he sees a knockout, he goes for it.
A student of the sweet science, he spends a lot of his time watching film and incorporating it into his training and sparring.
“I watch every boxer,” he said.
“One day I feel like Ali and the next day I feel like Tyson. It depends on who I’m watching that day.”
For his upcoming pro-debut, he said he has been working on sitting in his punches, meaning he stays a tad lower in his stance to ensure his power shots carry through; and throwing punches down the line, referring to concentrating on keeping his shots centred instead of looping around.
His coach said they will be working on Faruk’s conditioning, as he will be fighting four three-minute rounds for the first time, and tweaking his style to suit the professional game as well.
“You don’t throw as many punches but you throw more power shots,” he said.
“In amateur you win by the point system, you’re not looking to knock someone out.
“You want to, but you’re trying to throw more punches and outscore your opponent.”
Burke noted they will still be focusing on Faruk’s strengths.
“We’re still working with lots of angles and footwork. He’s a natural with his movement, so you try and work off of what you’re good at.”
With the big day fast approaching, Burke is confident in his fighter’s chances.
“I think he’ll do great,” he said.
“His style was always more pro-style than amateur so I think he’s going to fit in quite well.”
Alliance Boxing Promotions’ Hard Knocks at the Hard Rock will take place on Saturday, March 21 at the Hard Rock Casino in Coquitlam.
Eight professional boxing bouts are on the card as well as Vancouver’s first-ever wheelchair adaptive boxing demonstration.
Doors open at 6:00 p.m and fights start at 6:30 p.m.