Unwavering dominance, assurance in ability, and overt humility – the combination sounds oxymoronic, a complex blend of opposing qualities. But for 21-year-old professional boxer Adam Azim, these are attributes that are not only guiding him to consistent victories but are also attributes that are evident to those around him. The light-welterweight is currently 9-0, having won 6 of those professional fights by knockout. The secret? “I’m really, really determined and really, really hard-working. I work hard. That’s mainly it”.
The shoot takes place in Dalston, East London – a part of the city that infuses elements from a number of different communities and cultures. Whilst shooting, we encounter different types of people and weave through a council estate before finishing in a newly renovated park. This isn’t too dissimilar to the areas Adam himself grew up in. Hailing from Slough, statistically one of the UK’s most ethnically diverse areas and often described as a “worker town,” he speaks of his hometown with warmth. “There’s quite a few amateur and professional boxers coming out of Slough, which is proper cool. Me and Hassan, everyone knows us in Slough, which is kinda sick – they call us the Azim brothers, which is obviously really nice”. The overt humility comes out when speaking about his elder brother Hassan, and what growing up in Slough did for him as a boxer, and what he wants to give back to the community that seemingly gave him so much. “I come back to Slough all the time. To see my parents, I sometimes do some of my sessions there too. The thing about Slough is, everyone knows each other, which is lovely. I wanna make Slough a better place, helping the community is one of my big goals. There’s a big homelessness problem there, and I would love to do something about that. I’m not sure what, but definitely something”.
He currently spends the majority of his time in East London, being coached by Shane McGuigan at Leyton Boxing Club. McGuigan, who has worked with British boxing names such as Carl Frampton and Lawrence Okolie, is someone who Azim credits highly. “I wanted to work with someone who was the best. It was a big thing for me, when I was looking around. I sparred with Luke Campbell, when he was training for the Ryan Garcia fight, and Shane saw my talent. He’s made multiple world champions and he saw that in me. Even at the gym, it’s like family there, and I needed that, as well as being around world-class fighters with a world-class trainer”. There’s a modesty when talking about both the people and things he owes part of his success to, and this is evident again when he explains how he got into boxing in the first place. “So I started at the age of 4, and I was very hyper-active, very energetic. But then I was diagnosed with ADHD, so it made sense in the end. I tried other sports – football for a bit, and I tried so hard to get into cricket but… yeah”. There’s a laughter when he talks about this, explaining further that the pace of cricket was quite simply never going to work for him. “When I tried boxing, it was like I knew I was just quite good straight away. The recommendation for boxing came from the doctor to be honest, more so to drain my energy. But I loved it straight away, it was so good to use my hands and be good at something”.
You’d be mistaken for thinking that this modesty might limit his lethalness in the ring, but only the opposite is true. The juxtaposition of Adam’s calm nature likely makes his fighting style even more surprising for his opponents. His last win, a fight against more experienced Ukrainian boxer Aram Faniian, saw him win via unanimous decision. His classic right hook made several appearances and he had to remain calm and composed in order to get the better of Faniian’s intent, with Azim a deserved winner. He describes this fight as though it was a good show of his typical fighting style. “I’d say I’m a smart fighter, an aggressive counter-puncher. I like the more explosive style. It’s always been my style, but I’ve obviously got to be smart in the decisions I make in the fight. I go into the ring and my main thing is always ‘I want to take him out.’ But there’s obviously going to be times when you have to dig through the fight to get the win”.
The passion when he’s talking about boxing is infectious, and it’s the most animated he is during our chat, which is endearing. His training schedule consists of a variety of activities across 6 days a week, including sparring, pad work, and running. “I don’t really get time away from boxing. Even after a fight, I only get a little bit of time off to recover, then I’m back in it.” When asked about what he’d do with his time off, he mentions other physical activities, golf and swimming namely – the trait of someone who embodies a complete athlete. When pressed, he mentions going to the cinema to relax – but not without mentioning the fact that he takes his meal prep to the cinema, laughing at this self-imposed practice. This meticulous commitment to the rules and processes that govern him makes complete sense when he speaks about his wider vision. “I even have this old video of myself, saying I want to become world champion, and I think I’m 5 years old. And it’s going that way – that’s the plan. It’s still my one main goal, to become undisputed world champion, hopefully taking on two, maybe three divisions”.
There are even greater days ahead for the young boxer – that is almost a certainty. He is on a path to becoming a boxing great that can make waves globally. The opponents will get tougher and the spotlight is sure to get brighter, with more and more people tuning in to keep up with his rise. But Adam Azim is equipped with both the mentality of a seasoned athlete and a youthful eagerness. Combined with the support of his team and his own personal drive to succeed, he is a name to keep an eye on for sure.