By: Hans Themistode
It isn’t easy walking the path you feel destined to. It’s even more difficult doing it alone. For super middleweight prospect Nadim Salloum, he’s grown accustomed to traveling an arduous road in order to accomplish his lofty goals. Even if that means packing up his bags and traveling halfway across the world.
At a young age, adolescents often imitate who they see in an attempt to be just like them. Growing up in Lebanon, Salloum was given a plethora of role models to look up to. From school teachers and field workers to those who did unglamorous work in the nearby area where he lived, Salloum had his pick of the litter in terms of whom he wanted to idolize.
But while those career choices are admirable, they weren’t his desired choice. No, what Salloum wanted was something no one from his country ever cared to engage in.
“I wanted to be a boxer,” said Salloum during an interview with BoxingInsider.com. “This is a country that doesn’t have any boxing. We’ve never had a professional boxer, never any events or anything. This is not a boxing country so it was difficult to emulate anyone around me. I was lucky when I found boxing and the moment I did, I fell in love with the sport.”
The lack of influencers didn’t deter Salloum from keeping his dream alive. He may not have participated in the sport he loved often, but when he did, he made it count.
“I was able to find a few local tournaments when I was younger. In 2011 I won the Lebanon championship but for about 11 years I only had about 40 fights.”
From an outside perspective, 40 fights would be considered a lot but in the boxing world, it’s a paltry number.
Consider this, other up-and-coming boxers are gaining experience by fighting upwards of 200-300 hundred amateur fights before they ultimately feel comfortable in their abilities to go to the next level.
In Salloum‘s case however, obtaining that amount of fights was simply impossible. He was trapped in a country that doesn’t value what he was most passionate about with little to no resources on how to gain more experience.
Although it was daunting, and done on some what of a whim, Salloum became acrimonious as he watched his career stall out.
With his opportunity slipping through his fingers, Salloum enlisted the help of the Internet to help him keep his dreams alive. After a short search, he found what he was looking for, however, with his pockets devoid of any real funds, he took a deep breath and gave up one of his most valued possessions.
“One day I googled the number one boxing gym in the world and Wild Card in LA came up,” explained Salloum. “ I didn’t have much money but I had a car. I sold it in order to go down there and I spent two months there.”
The experience was worth the painstaking sacrifice of chucking away his car for a few bucks. But by the time his two months in paradise were over, Salloum was hit with the realization that he had to return home and leave his dream behind once again.
From there, he simply began saving the little cash he picked up every year.
“Once I came back, I knew I wanted to head back over there so every year I would go down there once a year for one month just to ask for help on how to turn pro. Luckily I was able to get in contact with a few good people and they organized a fight for me in Mexico City for me to turn pro.”
By all accounts, his professional debut went just how he planned as he scored a first-round knockout.
Normally, that’s how the story usually ends. Salloum successfully made his boxing debut, took home the win and would now begin his new life. But while that would be ideal, nothing about Salloum’s life ever came so easy.
“Once I won, I came back to Lebanon and was stuck again. At this point, I stopped going to my university because I couldn’t afford to go to America. I had to save my money.”
It may have taken a protracted amount of time but through the help of a family member, Salloum was able to make it back stateside.
His living arrangements weren’t what he envisioned but at this point, he had to take what he could get.
“I reached out to my brother-in-law who lives in New York and told him I wanted to come to America and find my way to become a boxing world champion. He told me I can come down and stay with him but after three weeks, he essentially told me I had to go.”
The long trek back home and shattered dreams were inevitable. That is, until an old friend stepped in.
“Just by chance some of my old friends saw an old video of me boxing on Facebook and reached out to me to have dinner. I explained to him that I needed a place to stay. Thankfully, he told me he had a couch and that I can stay there. For roughly three years, that’s exactly where I’ve been.”
While sleeping on the couch of his friends isn’t what he hoped for, it has allowed him to keep his dreams alive and move his career forward.
At the moment, Salloum holds a record of 5-1 with the seventh contest of his young career coming this Saturday night in Atlanta.
Presently, Salloum’s goal of becoming a world champion is only backed by those closest to him including trainer Jose Guzman and WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman.
“I believe in Salloum,” said Sulaiman recently. “He has an incredible story and is fighting the odds. It won’t be easy but I believe in him and his dreams to one day become world champion.”
Outside of his inner circle however, dubious voices surround his chase for greatness.
The noise coming from the exterior does little to distract him from what he ultimately wants though. The Lebanon native has witnessed those in similar circumstances overcome their own set of doubters to place a checkmark next to the dreams they once had.
As he sits back on his beaten-up couch, he can’t help but smile as he envisions the day his circumstances will change forever.
“I’ve watched Manny Pacquiao go from being poor and without anything to where he is now. If he can do it, why can’t I do it? If I continue to dedicate myself to the sport, I know I’ll be able to one call myself a world champion one day.”