A boxing champion who has represented England six times has been arrested and locked in an immigration detention centre, pending deportation to Nigeria, a country that has said it won’t allow him to live there as he is not a citizen.
Kelvin Fawaz, London’s current middleweight boxing champion, has been in the UK for 15 years, since he was a child. He is a gifted amateur boxer whom Team GBwanted to represent Britain in the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, writing twice to the Home Office on his behalf.
Fawaz realised his talent despite, as a child, being brought from his home in Nigeria to the UK where he was abandoned and forced into domestic slavery. He has not been allowed to take up a place on Team GB because the Home Office has repeatedly refused to issue him a work visa. Although the Nigerian government has rejected his applications for a passport and he holds no other, his application to be considered stateless has been rejected by the government.
“Kelvin is a terrifically, tremendously talented young man who has helped my fighter Josh Taylor get ready for a couple of fights,” said promoter and former boxing world champion Barry McGuigan. “Kelvin has the capacity to go far: he’s already brought glory to England many times and could go even further for this country if he was allowed by the Home Office to become a Team GB fighter, as they want him to be. Kelvin’s got a great personality. He ticks all the boxes.”
Fawaz, 29, has been trying to establish his nationality since the period of discretionary leave he was granted as a child expired when he turned 18. He has repeatedly written to the high commissions in Nigeria as well as Benin and Lebanon, the birthplaces of his parents.
However, the Home Office has rejected evidence that Fawaz collected and it has repeatedly delayed taking key decisions. It took four years to rule on an application he made in 2006 and another four to rule on an appeal he made in 2010.