SETBACKS are a part of any fighter’s career. A customary aspect of the testing journey, both inside and out of the ring, in the form of injuries and defeats among other issues.
For Fes Batista, a very raw prospect, the setbacks have already come thick and fast along his early yet eventful path towards success in boxing. Those obstacles have threatened to derail his ambitions, but if it weren’t for the tough times, the recent rewards would not have come to fruition either.
“It’s like my life just has constant setbacks but I feel that no matter what happens I always get back up and come back stronger,” Batista told Boxing News.
The Huddersfield native previously was the victim of racial bullying, and as a result was on the verge of taking his own life, until fatefully hearing the inspiring lyrics of a particular song which brought him back from the brink of suicide.
“It’s always hard to talk about because I have to revisit them scars and the dark place,” he admitted.
“However, I understand the importance of me talking openly about it in order to help others who are going through something similar. I felt helpless, and a strong sense of never going to be good enough. Based purely on the colour of my skin, something I have no power of.
“The song was Lady Gaga’s Marry The Night. It’s so inspirational and it gives me a lot of chills just talking about it. It’s about marrying and loving what’s dark about your life.
“It’s about embracing the parts of us we are uncomfortable about. Loving yourself is something Lady Gaga is so passionate about and that’s why she is my hero.”
Since sinking to such a worryingly low point in his life, Batista bounced back in a bid to make a career for himself in the ring, with the help of the legendary Roy Jones Jr, who reached out to help upon hearing his story.
A promotional deal has since followed under the tutelage of the former six-time, four-division world champion on American soil, with Batista having made a successful professional debut back in 2015. Meanwhile, training camp has also seen him rub shoulders with Floyd Mayweather on his US ventures.
But, as is the nature of the business, further setbacks have since threatened to hinder his sporting hopes, after suffering an untimely broken foot.
“It’s been very frustrating and it was a real test for me mentally more than anything,” outlined the Yorkshireman. “I was just walking home from a trail and slipped on the doorstep and then boom, my life came crashing down. It was very difficult to take.”
Past demons began to surface in light of enduring yet more misfortune, a concerning period highlighted by the unfortunate fighter’s long-standing manager James Aldren.
“When I first met Fes he was in a dark place and suffering with severe depression,” stated Batista’s representative. “After some early promise in his career he unfortunately broke his leg and was unable to train for almost two years due to the injury.
“He ballooned in weight and any hope of fighting again seemed a distant memory. However, I built some confidence back into him, encouraged him to train again and we have not looked back.
“Roy [Jones Jr] was more than keen to invite him back over [to Florida] to train. Once Roy believes Fes is ready to fight again, we are looking to build up a quick series of wins, which will enhance his presence on the world stage.”
Batista is feeling the positive effects of the subsequent knowledge and experience of having such an esteemed name in his corner, with the now 49-year-old having reigned from middleweight up to heavyweight world champion in his prestigious career.
“Roy Jones Jr is just amazing to be around,” he continued. “The things he knows and the secrets he shows me are beyond anything I’ve ever seen. Roy is the greatest boxer of all time and to be trained by him is a huge honour.
“Roy is also very patient and takes his time with me. I have a lot of confidence that I can do well in boxing with Roy in my corner.”
Back in training and once again enjoying the journey, Batista has been backed by not only his illustrious trainer, but by his hometown football club Huddersfield Town.
The Premier League side are now affiliated with their long-time supporter, as he proudly fights under a shared nickname of ‘the Terrier’.
“It’s a huge boost for me. I’ve been a Huddersfield Town fan all my life and it’s such a great thing for me personally to be backed by ‘the Terriers’ and even being given that special name was fantastic. I relate with Huddersfield Town a lot.
“My story is ‘against all odds’ just like Huddersfield Town and I strongly believe that there are no limits to things you can achieve if you work hard and believe, and this is a strong message that Huddersfield Town talk about a lot, so it’s a perfect marriage really.
“I am really looking forward to making my hometown team and fans proud of me and bringing big fights to Huddersfield.”
After battling back from such bleak times in his own life, Batista is now helping to assist others in doing the same.
Alongside the WBC, he has been working as an ambassador in an ongoing anti-bullying campaign, promoting the cause and aiming to make sure nobody follows the same dark route he once found himself on.
“The WBC have been amazing. I know pretty much everyone there and they have given me tremendous freedom with my anti-bullying campaign,” he added. “It feels great, a true privilege to be working with such amazing people.”
There could well be further setbacks ahead of Batista both personally and within the squared-circle, but after admirably overcoming both the mental and physical scars from his troubled past, the rejuvenated Yorkshire fighter is now relishing a much clearer, more promising path.