My biggest battles have been outside the ring, says Bascome
Few sports are more solitary, brutal and dangerous than boxing but when Nikki Bascome steps between the ropes he never truly feels alone.
The Bermudian welterweight takes comfort from knowing that the battles he has overcome outside of the ring are far greater than anything he will face in it.
As far as Bascome is concerned, his late mother and father are for ever in his corner, their faces tattooed on his washboard stomach, a constant source of motivation, inspiration and a powerful reminder of his indomitable spirit.
Bascome lost both parents by the age of seven, leaving deep wounds filled with sadness, isolation and an anger that threatened to destroy his future.
“I was five and seven when my parents passed,” Bascome says. “After that I was always looking for love.
“I think about my parents every day and I’ve got their picture on my stomach. They definitely still motivate and inspire me.
“I’ve been through so much as a kid — hard times, disappointments and missing out on a lot of things I couldn’t have because of my situation. When I box, I know that it’s just a fight. It’s not going to be able to compare to the things I’ve been through.”
While Bascome’s recollections of his father are scant and foggy, his memories of the short time spent with his mother are both happy and painful.
“She used to pick me up from school, at the time she had a convertible and I used to sit in the back eating popsicles,” says the 26-year-old.
“I remember when she cut my tail one time because I was rude in school, and when I burnt my hand on an iron and she had to take me to hospital. I remember a lot of little things like that.
“I also remember when she passed. I had to visit her in hospital and that was the last time I saw her. That plays on my mind sometimes.”
In the absence of a stable family environment, Bascome found himself lured into a life on the streets; fighting, stealing and doing drugs.
A quick-tempered and disruptive pupil, Bascome was kicked out of Spice Valley Middle School and CedarBridge Academy because of his poor behaviour, although he did eventually earn his General Education Diploma from The Education Centre [Tech].
It was not until he turned to boxing at the age of 14 that he slowly started to divert his energy from the streets to the ring.
“My parents were always on my mind and I was getting into trouble because I had so much anger,” said Bascome, who spent much of his adolescence living with his grandmother Grace Seymour on Ord Road.
“I was fending for myself and I did a lot of things I’m not proud of. As I grew older I realised if I didn’t buck up I was going to lose out on a lot of things in life.
“As I got more into boxing it took up more of my time and eventually I walked away from the street life.”
Bascome first donned the gloves after being taken to Police Gym by his neighbourhood friend Charlie Wade to train under Quinn Mallory.
Once bitten by the boxing bug, he was introduced to Allan (Forty) Rego, the island’s most respected coach, who Bascome describes as “like a father to me”.
It was at Rego’s converted garage gym in Warwick where Bascome learnt some of the valuable life lessons that he was denied as a child.
“I’d definitely say that boxing gave me a foundation,” Bascome says. “I started to understand the little things in everyday life that really matter like discipline and being on time.
“I’ve got good people in my corner now. Rego is like a father to me; he definitely took me in like a son.”
Boxing came along at the right time for a mid-teen Bascome, allowing him to avoid the pitfalls of the streets and giving him a purpose and self belief.
As a prominent local sports figure with a troubled past, Bascome feels it is his duty to be a positive role model for those young black males involved in the rising violent crime on the island.
“What’s going on in Bermuda right now is crazy,” Bascome says.
“I notice the kids in the position I used to be in and I want them to see there’s a better route than going the street way.
“I try to be a positive role model to the little children who come up to the gym and take them under my wing. It’s better for them to be here learning how to box than on the streets.”
Since learning he is going to become a father for the first time — his partner Marilyn Cupidore is expecting a baby girl — Bascome has even more reason to be excited about his future.
He expects fatherhood to make him even more focused and disciplined as a boxer.
“I’ve been thinking about [becoming a father] a lot,” says Bascome, who is undefeated after seven bouts.
“I talk to my friend in California all of the time, he’s like a mentor to me, and he said, ‘You’re first child is going to a girl. God doesn’t want you to have a boy yet because you’ll want to start training him! You’ve still got things to accomplish’.
“I think having a family will make me that much more dedicated to my craft. I have people around me who help me stay grounded and that makes training that much easier.
“I’m a lot more serious in my approach [to training] than I used to be. I’m strict with my time and never want to miss a day in the gym.”
Bascome is scheduled to return to the ring on November 11 at the Fairmont Southampton against a yet to be determined opponent. It will Bascome’s fourth bout in relatively quick succession and he says he is feeling the benefits of keeping active as he chases the Caribbean Boxing Federation welterweight title.
“Everyone asks me why don’t I go away to fight and I always tell them, ‘It’s not about where I fight, it’s about who I fight’,” says Bascome, who made his professional debut in Florida in February 2014. “My last two fights [against Iwan Azore and David Rangel] I’ve fought guys who have fought for belts. My name is getting up there and hopefully I can fight for a belt soon.
“I want to keep busy and that was my only downfall earlier in my career; I didn’t build enough momentum going into fights.”
Bascome says he is not overly concerned about who he faces next. After all, when he enters the ring he knows he will not be fighting alone.
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