Young player aims high with professional boxing career

Boxing was the sport that came into 18-year-old Dimo Stefanov’s life first, but through meeting friends around his hometown of Stara Zagora, he found another sport to love in playing football.

However, life has been a battle for Dimo, as he grew up in an institution for children that have been left by their parents, along with his six brothers and six sisters, most of whom are living on the streets of Bulgaria. Only Dimo and one of his sisters are off the streets currently and living in institutions.

Two boys from the same institution as Dimo, Isus Chavdarov (who played at the Homeless World Cup in Chile and refereed in Amsterdam) and Doncho Panchev (who played in Amsterdam) inspired Dimo to join the ‘Team of Hope’.

Dimo trained with the ‘Team of Hope’ in Bulgaria for four years, a club which manager and founder Viktor set up in 2011 to compete in the Homeless World Cup, with their debut in Mexico in 2012.

Dimo is competing in the lightweight boxing division at the moment, but has his sights set on upping his weight and competing at the light welterweight division in the near future. The youngster is being trained by former Bulgarian amateur champion Dimitar Shtilianov, who is showing him the ropes.

He went on to say: “I have many new friends because of football. I love the sport, but next year I hope to be very successful in my boxing career. It is my dream.”

Training will become a constant in Dimo’s life when he returns to Bulgaria after he finishes school, where he is studying to become an interior decorator and builder.

He has a lot of passion, which will drive him to achieving his goals, as he showed by saying: “I will always look in front of me, never behind me.”

Words: Josh Brimble
Images: Daniel Lipinski