Oliver Sykes - Children's author THE GUARDIAN: Oliver pens ‘A Moment that changed me’ feature (17/05/2023)*

THE GUARDIAN: Oliver pens ‘A Moment that changed me’ feature (17/05/2023)*

A moment that changed me: a brutal attack ended my dreams of being a boxer – but I found a new passion

At 16 I had my whole life planned out. I was a budding amateur boxer with bags of passion and talent. I was going to be a star. My dad was my coach. Our mission was to win the national youth championships, then conquer the Olympics, before turning professional and working together to capture a world title. But, in one night, this dream of ours was taken away.

It was a Friday evening. Teenagers stood around the park chatting and drinking. I was taking a night off from training to ride my BMX. I remember rolling towards the grind rail, sliding down and landing well enough to earn a cheer from my mates.

As I rolled around the back of the main ramp, I began to cycle hard, building up speed, but mid-jump I caught sight of something in the sky whistling its way right towards the spot where I was heading. Before I could react, a beer bottle had exploded in front of me, showering me in shards of broken glass. I hit the concrete hard and lay there bleeding.

Next thing I knew, my mates were screaming obscenities from across the skate park, but louder than that was the sound of pounding footsteps. I turned just in time to see the first fist strike my face. I couldn’t tell you how many times I got hit during the six-on-one beat-down. But it was a lot. I remember thinking: “What have I done to deserve this?” and “Why isn’t anybody helping me out?”

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