MILAMBO MAKANI is not a name in amateur boxing. He hasn’t won major titles, in this year’s Haringey Box Cup he reached the semi-finals. But what he has accomplished and what he is doing is remarkable.
As teenager he was made homeless and drawn into gangs, until he decided to radically change his life. “I left home when I was 16 and I left home because my parents had a lot of problems with drugs and alcohol and no one was able to take care of me. As a result of that I ended up in local authority care, living in youth hostels, foster care, in and out of the system, in and out of precarious housing situations, living on the streets, sleeping on the streets and just trying to find a place to work and just trying to find a place where I actually belonged,” he explained. “I found myself actually in a gang because that’s where there was a sense of belonging, that’s where I felt a sense of family. People who were my own blood were not able to take care of me. Random strangers took care of me.”
But he would come to understand fully the path he was following. He realised he wanted something else. “It was very dangerous. It put me in positions I could have easily lost my life,” Milambo says, adding, “It’s not just this person that you have a hatred for that you are essentially trying to harm, it’s the circles around them as well, their family, their friends, the impact is ridiculous. It reverberates through their circles as well. That’s something I realised when a friend of mine was killed. How I felt. How their family was affected, how their friends were also affected. It then has a vicious cycle. Our instant reaction was okay how can we get revenge, how can we get vengeance for this. That was a vicious cycle.” So he thought to himself, “How can we break the cycle?”