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Fight to stop Home Office deporting champion Stonebridge boxer

PUBLISHED: 17:37 04 January 2018 | UPDATED: 17:37 04 January 2018

Bilal Fawaz at the Stonebridge Boxing Club after winning the London middleweight boxing championship (Picture: Aamir Ali)

Bilal Fawaz at the Stonebridge Boxing Club after winning the London middleweight boxing championship (Picture: Aamir Ali)

Archant

A Stonebridge boxing club founder has pledged to take his protege’s case to the high court to stop him from being deported.

Bilal Fawaz  (Picture: Aamir Ali)Bilal Fawaz (Picture: Aamir Ali)

Bilal “Kelvin” Fawaz, current London middleweight boxing champion, was granted bail at a hearing on January 2 after spending Christmas and New Year in a detention centre in South Gatwick.

The 29-year-old, who has represented England six times, was arrested in November for failing to report to the immigration centre after the Home Office rejected his numerous applications for citizenship.

A petition to keep him in the UK has more than 12,000 signatures and support continues to grow.

Aamir Ali, founder of the Stonebridge Boxing Club (SBC) in Winchelsea Road, Harlesden, where Mr Fawaz trains, said: “If we have to, we’ll take this case to judicial review.

“The Home Office case is the weakest it’s ever been because for the past five years Fawaz has allowed no distractions in his life. He’s not going to stop it from where it’s going. He’s fought for England. He couldn’t accept an offer to join the British Olympic Team as his immigration status won’t allow it.

“We need the Nigerian High Commission to confirm to everyone that Bilal is not Nigerian, put that to the Home Office and then put it to an independent judge who will decide once and for all to give this guy his life back.”

Mr Fawaz was born in Nigeria and sent by relatives to the UK when he was 14 years old.

His mother, from Benin, was killed when he was eight. He was told his father, a Lebanese immigrant, was here.

He ran away from his new living conditions and was under the care of social services until he was 18 and then told he had to reapply for asylum.

He’s been living at the gym for the last five years, keeping it clean and training younger boxers for his keep.

Mr Ali added: “The Home Office say he’s a criminal, an over stayer, he shouldn’t be in this country. From when he was 18 to 22 the Home Office didn’t contact him, he had no support, no access to work, he fell into bad ways but he’s taken responsibility for his past, he’s turning his life around.”

Cllr Muhammed Butt, leader of Brent Council, said: “There’s definitely a sense of irony over the efforts to deport Bilal to Nigeria, which is not only a country that doesn’t recognise him as their own citizen, but is also a country he boxed against while representing England.

“His release from the detention centre is a welcome step and I hope that this case can be resolved swiftly.”

A Home Office spokewoman said: “When someone has no leave to remain in the UK, we expect them to leave the country voluntarily. Where they do not, we will seek to enforce their departure.”

To sign the petition in support of Mr Fawaz remaining in the country click here


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