Whenever I here some rap lyrics about missing someone they've lost to urban violence, my mind always has flashbacks of my very close friend and older brother figure Riz. He was a legend, the man had knocked out both of his opponents in the first round on the same night in the regional championships. He could bang, but the man was smooth as silk on his feet too, this was a very dangerous combination. He was in many ways my hero as I was coming into my own as a fighter and a young man. I'd often tell him if it wasn't for the 20kg he had on me, I'd school him in the ring, he'd laugh it off. I didn't know too much about his personal life, but being a legend has its negatives. There were so many stories of brawls which took place outside the ring, where Riz had given guys much bigger a right hiding and from what I knew of Riz, he'd have been the last person to have started trouble. He was one of the most humble people I knew. He never admitted to winning in a street fight, but would divert the conversation, by telling those who asked about the times he was beaten at school by older kids.
I was once walking towards Ilford, when Riz was driving by, he pulled up and asked me were I was heading. He told me to hop in and he'd drop me off. Explaining to him it's in the opposite direction to where he's heading didn't make any difference. He wouldn't take no for an answer. This was a guy who went out of his way to make my life that bit easier.
We once walked down the high street as we we're due to box at a show held in the West Ham Working Men's Club. Riz must have been stopped close to a dozen times by guys of all ages, to shake his hand and ask how he was, and in a way pay their respects. As we finished the fourth such encounter I realized that the guy I often verbally laid into and teased like a fellow school buddy was truly a local legend. I then joked that I’ll never walk with him anywhere again as it takes twice the time with all these stops. He then apologised, and explained; how out of all the people he had met he only knew one by name. Right there he had become my hero, he made time for the common guy, the weaklings, dweebs, uncools of society. People Riz had nothing to gain from. Those who showed him respect we're treated with a similar level of respect, and those who harmed or even threatened to harm his friends where suddenly waking up lying flat out on the ground.
April 2003 - I got a call, my hero had been stabbed on the High Street, he later died in Newham General, I couldn't be there but friends tell me how when they were allowed to finally see his body, it was a gruesome sight. I still come close to tears of anger and rage when I think about what a rare type of man to poses so much talent along with humbleness and mutual respect was a victim of an urban feud.
I miss you Riz, and will try my best to treat people with the respect I witnessed you show others. You're still a hero to me, and you had a very positive influence on my life. I'll be praying for you.
To judge the character of a man you must witness how he treats those he has nothing to gain from.
|Riz (bottom left) helping me out on one of my bouts. Winston May with the dreads. (York Hall I think)|