Published: 06:00, 04 March 2021
Boxer Radoslav Saraliyski left Bulgaria with a dream of turning professional and a club in Gillingham has helped make that a reality.
Saraliyski, who fights at super-lightweight, now lives in Chatham and trains at the Kent Gloves Boxing Club in Gillingham. He’s just signed a professional contract with management company Boxing Connected alongside other Kent prospects.
The 21-year-old is preparing for his professional debut - becoming the first ever person from his home town of Zlatograd to turn pro - and has spoken of the journey he’s had to take to make that happen.
He said: “I started boxing at 16. I was a basketball player but decided to stop to start boxing. I used to train in my garage for the first time without coaches because I come from a small town with no boxing gyms or boxers. I’m the first ever pro boxer from Zlatograd.
“After a year of training on my own, I found an amateur boxing club near my city (31 miles away) but only had enough money for two sessions a week. I experienced five unlicensed fights in Bulgaria.
“I decided to move from Bulgaria when I was 18 to start my pro boxing journey in the UK to change my life and my family’s life.”
He was introduced to the Kent Gloves gym and is now coached by Lee Page and Chris Lamontagne alongside Ultimate Boxxer finalist Lenny Fuller, national amateur champion Lewis Southgate, Southern Area title contender Jack Budge and and unbeaten welterweight Brooklyn Tilley.
He has previously fought on the unlicensed boxing circuit in Kent, losing just once when he challenged for a Novice welterweight title in 2020.
“I didn’t really have a coach or proper training for the title fight,” he explained.
“It was a good experience for me because we didn’t have any leagues like that in Bulgaria to gain experience from.”
Boxing Connected’s last show was a year ago and since then small hall boxing events have been unable to run.
Kent-based promoter Joe Elfidh is looking ahead to when restrictions are lifted and Saraliyski will then get a chance to show what he can do in the pro ranks.
Elfidh said: “He’s made a vast improvement this last year under the guidance of Lee Page when changing from unlicensed to pro. He’s going to be one to watch because he really wants it. He trains hard, he’s in the gym every day, he’s learning, he’s dedicated – I’ve never seen him miss a single session.”