Boxer Nadim Salloum wants Lebanon to grow with me as he dreams of winning the world title

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Nadim Salloum jumps up from a crouch – leaning back to avoid a right hook from his sparring partner. He moves toward his opponent, his right is blocked by a shoulder roll, but he then follows with a left to the body.

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It’s a drawn punch, but powerful enough to make Andy drop his guard and back out. He responds and one in a series of punches hits Nadim’s headguard.

“Good!” Salloum yells through his gumshield, urging Andy on to keep going.

Nadim “The Unpredictable” Salloum – Lebanon‘s first professional boxer – has returned from New York to visit his hometown of Jounieh.

The bell rings on an automatic timer that goes off at the Fitmind Gym, but both boxers continue to fight, trading jabs.

“We keep going until he says he’s had enough,” says Salloum.

For the 17-year-old amateur, every second in the ring is priceless. “It’s a great experience. I’m gradually learning what to do to get to a higher level. Being there makes me better,” Andy says later.

And there is certainly a lot to learn.

Salloum, 28, has worked his way up the world rankings over the past three years, claiming four wins in the last year alone. Currently ranked 155th on BoxRec in the Super Middleweight category and with an official record of 10-1, Salloum is charting a path in professional boxing unequaled by any other Lebanese fighter.

His journey took off last year when he was signed by Adam Glenn, son of legendary New York coach Jimmy Glenn, who has worked and coached with the likes of Floyd Patterson.

Since coming under Glenn’s management, Salloum has proven he’s a winner. He has also demonstrated his ability to sell tickets to a captive Lebanese diaspora in places like New York, Washington and Kentucky. Salloum says he’s now ready to take on tougher opponents and step up to eight-round bouts.

“There are a lot of up and coming fighters in my division, I won’t name names but I’m ready to take on them,” he says.

Ever since he turned professional boxing, Salloum has had one goal in mind – to become world champion. He now says he’s only a few years away from taking on the likes of Canelo Alvarez.

“I know how to adapt. If I keep going like this, I’ll make it,” says Salloum.

Salloum’s story is certainly one of accommodation and sacrifice. After years of winning fights in Lebanon, he realized that in order to get to the next level and turn pro, he needed to leave his homeland and train professionally in the United States.

In order to afford his dream, he sold his car, dropped out of college and has been living on his boyfriend’s couch in New York since 2019 to fully focus on boxing.

Nadim Salloum at BOXLAB Beirut, Lebanon on Friday 26 March 2021. Photo: Matt Kynaston

“The whole family turned against him at the time, but he insisted,” said his mother Ghada The National at his family home, “now we are very proud.”

While awaiting news of his next fight date, Salloum is trying to use his time at home to support Lebanese talent, promote boxing and share some of the lessons he’s learned along the way.

“I want to help other people take the same steps. As I grow, I want Lebanon to grow with me,” he says.

During his earlier return to Lebanon, Salloum organized training days with young fighters. On this trip he is organizing an information day at Bar National in Jounieh on August 2nd to share what he has learned about networking and professionalism.

“People have no idea about the ins and outs of professional boxing; what it means to have a manager and why you need a promoter. Also practical things like how to make weight, how to get paid, how much to pay?”

Salloum has big ambitions for boxing in Lebanon, including setting up his own professional gym – but admits he has struggled to get involved with the Lebanese Boxing Federation in the past.

“There is a lot of talent in Lebanon, but they’re not doing enough to support it,” he says, saying the association, like the rest of the country, is being held back by sectarian politics.

The National contacted the LBF, who agreed to work with Salloum to promote boxing in Lebanon.

In the meantime, he remains focused on his main goal – getting to the top.

“If I’m world champion, I can do whatever I want.”

His next fight is yet to be confirmed but Salloum said Glenn is looking at the data in September. He hopes to be in contention for one of the many WBC, WBO and WBA belts within the next year.

Updated: July 22, 2022, 6:00 p.m

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