The case of Kelvin Bilal Fawaz took a new turn today as the amateur boxer who represented England yet now faces deportation back to Nigeria has been granted bail while he continues to fight against the Home Office’s decision to deport him.
Fawaz spent 34 days locked away in a detention centre pending his deportation only for a sympathetic judge to grant the 29-year-old bail, according to the Telegraph. The case has rumbled on for over a decade now and appears to be slowly drawing towards a resolution.
Despite fighting in England’s colours six times, including an outing against a Nigerian fighter, the boxer has had to defend his right to stay in the U.K., where he has lived and boxed since the age of 14.
Sent into domestic servitude by an uncle upon arrival, he managed to escape both that and left behind a life of petty crime to embark on a successful amateur career only to discover that his application to remain as a citizen had been rejected.
Fawaz was then arrested at his amateur gym in Stonebridge in November for failing to report to an immigration centre. Aamir Ali, one of his amateur coaches, has told the Telegraph that the saga has seen Fawaz spiral into depression and has been pleading with the authorities to let him stay on the country, citing the way he has turned his life around as ample evidence that he will bring value to both the local community and his adopted country.
The matter has been further complicated by the fact that he is not a Nigerian citizen and the country has refused to take him in, leaving him in a bureaucratic limbo in the meantime.
Bilal expressed his frustration when speaking to getwestlondon about his situation. “I’ve spent over half of my life here,” he argued. “I went to school here, I lived here, I’ve boxed for England five or six times and never lost. I am a national champion—in 2014 I even boxed for England against Nigeria, the country they want to deport me to.”
“When someone has no leave to remain in the UK, we expect them to leave the country voluntarily,” stated the Home Office when asked about the situation by The Mirror. “Where they do not, we will seek to enforce their departure.”