Luton boxer Izzadeen Malik El-Amin on the struggles facing today’s youth – “It could have been me"
The Luton boxer says most of youths are heading in the wrong direction: “I'm not perfect but I'm lucky to have stayed away from trouble after high-school, the street life. But most youngsters are going down that path.
“They believe it's cool and this is what being successful is, like this is the only path available. I could easily have been one of them, from my upbringing and where I was heading according to everyone around me, I was seen as that kid – how I was being spoken about like that will be me, just because of my behaviour as a teen as well as not having that guidance.”
Coming from a single-parent home Izzadeen said: “I had to decide on my own … it takes courage to do what those don't expect you to do. For me, boxing played a huge part and kept me calm as all that built up aggression was let out in the gym instead of the streets or at home.
“Instead of weapons, I picked up the boxing gloves and that's what kids should do but it takes guts to do that, there's a Hadith something the prophet Muhammad PBUH said talking about the future, a time will surely come upon people in which the killer does not know why he has killed, and the one killed does not know why he was killed.
“Unfortunately this is the time we are living in.”
Izzadeen turned professional two years ago, made his debut at 22 years old, where he fought in Tijuana, Mexico. All his bouts so far have been in that country or Columbia.
But it is back home in Luton that he worries about young people today, especially knife crime. He said: “This is what we are hearing daily on the news, a young kid getting stabbed, over what! That’s the age it starts from – I was in high school 10 years ago and this was not going on back then but now it’s happening too much.
“But God's guidance and me doing what's best for me, was the difference, I believe the music that they listen to, the people they look up to – the celebrities – aren't a good example for them to follow. It’s leading them down the path they are heading on and it isn't the right one. We need good role models.”
And he has advice for today’s youngsters: “Is this right? Should you be living like this regardless of it being normalised in society. It does not matter about your situation, it's not an excuse for you to turn to crime, it's a whole lifestyle. Think twice because you are not ruining one life but many lives; whether it is selling drugs, carrying weapons, you wouldn't be carrying it if you wasn't thinking of using it. Karma is real, it will come back to you or your family. Do good and good will come to you. Put yourself in other people's shoes.”
Izzadeen said young people shouldn't be worried about peer pressure or what the rest of the crowd is doing, He added: “That's never been me. Those same people who pressured you to do something you’re not supposed to do will be a stranger to you in the near future. The word friend is used very loosely nowadays, "what really is a friend" – ask yourself.
“I believe for the youth there needs to be funding to help them like youth centres and even the places of worship, Mosques, churches etc should welcome kids and organize activities and talks to keep them busy and keep them off the streets and open up about their daily struggles to someone that can relate to them.”