THERE can be no more diverse character in the entire England team at next month’s Commonwealth Games than a man called Delicious.
Delicious Orie, a 6ft 6in, 16 stone-plus super-heavyweight will be one of the boxing squad’s gold-medal favorites.
And there can be no greater role model than Orie, 25, for every immigrant kid in this country trying to integrate and overcome adversity.
Delicious certainly comes from a technicolor background. He was born in Moscow, his father Justin is Nigerian and his mother Natalie is Russian. The family suffered obscene and sometimes violent racism on a daily basis.
After Justin was assaulted on public transport, he uprooted his family from Russia and came to Britain, settling in Wolverhampton.
Delicious said: “I was only seven when I came here and because I couldn’t speak a word of English it caused me some cultural problems.
“But life was much harder in Moscow – some people didn’t like me purely because of the color of my skin.”
It didn’t take young Orie long to overcome his problems and thrive in his new environment. He won a place at Aston University and graduated with a 1st Class Honors Economics degree.
In his early teens his sport was basketball and he had no interest in boxing until he saw Anthony Joshua on TV knockout Charles Martin to win the IBF world heavyweight title.
Delicious told me: “From that moment AJ became my idol and I was hooked. I went and joined the Jewelery Quarter Boxing Club in Birmingham and found out I was a pretty good boxer.
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“They say never meet your idols because you will be disappointed. Not only did I meet him I sparred with him on numerous occasions and he couldn’t have been more supportive.
“He has given me invaluable help in all kind of ways – getting my balance right, perfecting my jab and educating me about diet.
“People have told me I’m the new AJ but I aim to be even better than him.”
Considering he didn’t start boxing until he was 18, Orie has made remarkable progress under coach Mick Maguire and despite no youth experience he’s lost just 5 of his 45 contests.
He says he relies on his speed and is more of a Muhammad Ali than a Mike Tyson.
Having received his British citizenship more than a year ago, it’s a style that won him a bronze medal at the European championships in Armenia.
With its academic qualifications, it is no surprise Delicious is articulate and extremely level-headed. Even if he gets the gold in the final at the NEC arena on August 7 he will ignore all incentives to turn pro.
With hard work and the right breaks Delicious can achieve everything AJ
Trainer Mick Maguire
Ortie said: “I want to box for Britain at the Paris Olympics in two years. I will be 27 which is still young for a heavyweight. Because I started so late, what I lack is experience.
“The way I look at it is by the time I think I’ll be good enough to turn pro AJ, Fury and Usyk will be retired.
“And if boxing doesn’t work out I have my degree to fall back on and I can go into a business career.”
Maguire, who has coached many promising youngsters, predicts: “With hard work and the right breaks Delicious can achieve everything AJ has and I think probably surpass that as well.”
The one dark cloud in Orie’s life is the war in Ukraine. He revealed: “I have family in Russia and Ukraine and I find this horrible war soul-destroying.”
I couldn’t resist asking him if his Christian name his parents gave him had caused him any grief or embarrassment growing up like the “Boy called Sue” country and western icon Johnny Cash sang about.
Laughing, he said: “Not at all – in fact I rather like Delicious. It’s different. But I prefer to be called by my initials DJ. ”
If he does manage to become Commonwealth champion you can put money on the headline being “Golden Delicious”.