Bognor-based Latvian puncher Arthur Geikins makes his long-awaited British professional debut tonight (July 6) in London.
The welterweight will appear on Mickey Helliet’s card in the Coronet Theatre against unbeaten Lee Owen.
It marks the end of a long wait for Geikins who took to the Latvian amateur ranks with five wins out of six.
He quickly turned pro with the Latvian board and he has had one pro contest, which ended in a hotly-disputed draw.
It’s been a slow process for him since he moved to England in May last year, struggling to overcome the language barrier and putting himself in a position where he could fully apply himself to the professional ranks.
But now he speaks fluent English and has found a team to work with – fast-growing Riley’s Gym on Bognor seafront.
Coach Faz Chitima said: “The dedication and loyalty Arthur has shown is incredible. He’s stuck with us through tough times, training in garages before we moved to the new gym, making the decision to leave his family to pursue his dream.
“He is one fighter I never have to ask to come to the gym – he’s normally at the door waiting for me. He has a massive heart.”
Geikins said: “I have waited a long time for this but have trained hard and will grab my opportunity with both hands.
“I worked on a few things when I arrived in UK I was very raw, but training with the guys and sparring with the likes of Brighton hotshot Lloyd Ellet and with Alex Gibbens has taken me to another level, which is needed for British professional boxing.”
Riley’s other favourite son – Gibbens – also has a bout on a televised Channel 5 show the following night.
The Riley’s camp hope for a better weekend after the disappointment of Lawrence Bennett’s opponent weighing in two stone overweight, forcing the bout to be cancelled.
If you are unable to go and support Geikins, check out our Twitter for round-by-round updates – @Rileysgym – or for more about the gym’s fighters, go to www.rileysgym.co.uk