Professional athletes and NHS workers are having a tough time at the moment, albeit for very different reasons. For Sajid Abid, who is both a pro boxer and an NHS worker, both of his flourishing careers have been rocked by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Everyone’s gone into panic,” Abid told Boxing Social. “I work for the NHS. I work in a surgery as a prescription manager. So I deal with all medications, liaise with pharmacies, hospices, hospitals and nursing homes.
“When people are requesting medication there are just so many requests. We’re rushed off our feet. It just doesn’t help with the current climate of things but what can you do? You just have to deal with it.”
The huge workload placed on the NHS by the Covid-19 crisis isn’t Abid’s only issue. As a promising pro welterweight, his career has ground to a halt.
“I am depressed that I can’t fight and I imagine a lot of fighters are the same,” he said. The Derby boxer says he will be ready to push on and compete for titles in the coming year, as soon as boxing can resume on a larger scale.
Currently, there are plans for a small number of televised, behind closed doors shows, but the kind of promotions Abid (9-1, 0 KOs) is accustomed to fighting on will take a while longer to resume. That’s because any boxing not backed by UK broadcasting giants, like Sky and BT, is financially reliant on ticket sales and needs to draw a crowd. Obviously, that’s not virus-friendly.
The 25-year-old took his first and only loss last year, when he travelled to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, to take on unbeaten Venezuelan Rodrigo Caraballo. Despite suffering a second round TKO loss, Abid says the experience of fighting on a huge televised card, alongside the likes of Amir Khan and Hughie Fury, was immensely valuable.
“That loss was the best thing to ever happen to me because, at that point, I realised what I had to do to improve,” Abid explained.
“I’ve practically learned on the job. I’ve only had the one amateur fight and then switched over to pro straight away. Don’t get me wrong, if I had the option to go back and change that and have more amateur fights I would, but there’s no point crying over spilt milk.
“The opponent I fought [in Jeddah] had well over 80 amateur fights in comparison to my one. The original person who was meant to fight him backed out and that’s where my opportunity came in, but I looked at his record, I looked at his fights and I took the opportunity.”
Despite the loss, Abid has no regrets. He says that witnessing the behaviours of top-flight pros in the lead up to a fight, as well as playing his own part in a large televised event, made for a valuable learning experience.
“I was around Amir Khan, Billy Dib, Peter Fury, Hughie Fury and all these kind of fighters and names,” he said. “It’s really good to look at what they do. They’ve made it to where they have for a reason and I got to pick up some little things from them.”
Looking into the future, Abid plans to keep working hard for the NHS – and on his own fitness – until normality returns. He’s in constant contact with his coach, Dr. Ifran Khalid, who is a partner of a surgery as well as his cousin.
Together, Abid and Khalid are working to win titles and make a name in boxing. Right now though, those ambitions will have to wait, as they both continue to play key roles in the country’s fightback against Covid-19.