South Londoner and British Cruiserweight Champion Richard Riakporhe is preparing for one of the biggest fights of his life this weekend.
If he wins it would see him one step closer to achieving his dreams of securing a world title.
“I’m always in a great mood during fight week,” the 33-year-old told LondonWorld, ahead of his match against former two-time world champion Krzysztov Glowacki at the Manchester Arena.
“I’m happy to get to this side of things when all the hard work is done and it’s just time to perform.”
Growing up on Aylesbury Estate in Walworth, “one of the most notorious estates in the UK”, filling out stadiums and securing lucrative sponsorships with brands like Adidas did not seem like a plausible future for Riakporhe.
At the age of 15, he was the victim of a knife attack and was stabbed in the chest outside a house party.
“Someone was trying to rob me for my phone,” Riakporhe recalled.
“It nearly killed me but we’re here to tell the story.
"At that time, I wasn’t active on the streets and didn’t deserve to be stabbed.
"But because of my environment I found myself fighting for my life.
"I’m still here and it’s for a reason.”
Riakporhe had a late start to boxing, first stepping into a gym, the Lynn AC boxing club in Camberwell, at the age of 19.
The sport gave Riakporhe an escape route from a life which was almost brutally ended.
“When I took up boxing it gave me a sense of purpose, it gave me a lot of discipline,” he continued.
“When I started out they said to me if you really want to do that, then you’re gonna have to live this type of lifestyle, almost like a monk.
“I was ready to do whatever I needed to do so I stopped drinking as well.
“I stopped partying too late and going out with the wrong people.
“Boxing taught me a lot about myself, about my character and mental fortitude.
“It gave me courage and confidence.”
Now, 17 years on from his brutal attack, Riakporhe has won each of his 15 professional matches and is in with a chance of a world title later this year if he defeats Glowacki on Saturday.
Despite his successful career as a boxer and now model, he is keen not to forget his Aylesbury Estate roots, and is an advocate for young people from similar backgrounds.
“When I was younger, I was pretty much around the wrong crowd, I grew up in a big council estate,” he said.
“There were a lot of poor people, both physically and mentally.
“I found myself doing things in the same manner, being in an urban environment that was enough to bring me to a place where I shouldn’t have been.
“I didn’t have any role models so I didn’t believe that I could become something.”
He has since set up the Richard Riakporhe Foundation which focuses on talking to schoolchildren on positive thinking and the dangers of knife crime.
“I’ve always wanted to influence people in any way I can,” he said.
“It’s important for kids to have the right kind of role models.”
Richard Riakporhe fights Krzysztof Glowacki at BOXXER: Unleashed ahead of Chris Eubank Jr vs Liam Smith, live on Sky Sports Box Office at Manchester’s AO Arena on January 21.