Mozambique boxer settles in the Fens with his sights set on 2020 Olympics in Tokyo
- Credit: Archant
A Commonwealth Games boxer is hard in training after moving to March from Belfast where he made a name for himself as an Irish national champion.
Bernaldo Marime has his heart set on turning professional and getting to Tokyo 2020 after a split decision cost him a place in the finals of Glasgow 2014.
The light welterweight fighter, who represented Mozambique at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, moved to the Fens a year ago to be with his girlfriend and their two children.
When he is not working, or with his young family, he can be found at March ABC or the Oliver Cromwell Hotel gym, where he spends two hours a day training to get into peak condition.
Bernaldo moved from Mozambique to Belfast at the age of 12 and instead of being a rose-tinted bubble like the American films and TV shows he watched back in Africa, he was instead a target for bullying and name calling for the colour of his skin.
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A lot of it he couldn’t understand as he arrived unable to speak English.
“I used to fight every day at school,” he said. “There wasn’t a day I went into school and didn’t fight.”
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A talented rugby player, he played for his school then the town team and was earmarked for big things, but when a friend suggested boxing, he decided to give it a go, partly because of bullying and partly because of the freezing British weather.
“Rugby competitions start in winter and being on pitch in the bitter cold with grass that is frozen crunchy wasn’t for me,” he said, so he joined Holy Trinity ABC in Belfast.
Within two weeks he had his first fight and in no time he was making a name for himself, with a street fight style of just putting his head down and throwing punches.
Coaching developed him with a more skilled and sleek approach and Bernaldo soon began winning titles.
Unsurprisingly the school bullies backed off.
Harry Hawkins, Bernaldo’s coach from Holy Trinity, said he could do well if he dedicates himself.
“Bernaldo must have won 20 contests at his time with us in Belfast. He was the Irish National Under 18s champion and was chosen to represent Mozambique in the 2014 Commonwealth Games,” he said.
“He is pretty tough competition. He likes a fight.
“He boxed very well at the Commonwealth Games and was unlucky to not get into the finals. It was a split decision that lost him that place, a real shame for him, it was so close.
“He was the Ulster Elite Champion but lost in the following year.
“He punches very hard, has a lot of potential and is certainly a character.
“He has been knocking on the door for this. If he dedicates himself he can do it.”
So could Bernaldo’s boxing put March on the map? “I am really focused right now. Let’s see,” he said.
• Bernaldo can be seen fighting at the BRAZA Club on Friday November 30. Tickets are £10. Doors open 7.30pm. First fight at 8pm.