In an incredible tale of resilience, Parwaiz Arabzai escaped a war-torn Afghanistan, and survived spells in jail and on the streets, en route to earning his spot in Hexagone MMA.
Born in the tough city of Kabul, the youngster didn't have it easy. With the ever-present threat of danger, he spent his youth in a state of constant fear. And while he looks back fondly on memories of wrestling with his friends, he was determined to leave his homeland in search of a better life.
At just 16, he fled his nation, knowing that the road to safety would be anything but easy.
He recalled: “I left my family. I left alone, in a truck. I illegally travelled through Pakistan, Iran, Turkey… I even went to prison in Bulgaria. It would take way too long to tell you everything. It was like a film.”
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In 2017, after a year of hardship, he eventually made it to France, where he took the advice of an online friend and headed for Paris.
However, upon arriving in the capital, he struggled to adapt and ended up homeless.
The fighter remembered: “I had to sleep outside for a few weeks, and then I went to a shelter.”
But while this level of adversity would crumble even the strongest individual, a courageous Arabzai remained optimistic, in the hope that his life would soon change for the better.
It was at this point his papers came through, making him a French citizen. Subsequently, he was assigned a social worker, who played a pivotal role into getting him to where he is today.
She suggested he try out Free Fight Academy. And under the tutelage of Mathieu Nicourt, Arabzai developed an incredible skillset.
He evolved at a stunning pace, with every element of his game transcending the rest of the fighters in the gym. Consequently, despite minimal training, he dived headfirst into an amateur career, amassing a record of 5-1 before turning professional.
In a huge surprise, his debut ended in disaster, with his opponent knocking him out in the first round. At this point, it would've been easy to give up. But after a rollercoaster ride through the jail cells and the rough and tough Parisian streets, he remained focused, determined to make his family back home proud.
He told the Daily Star: “I am happy to have the chance to live a new life in France. But I have no family members here, and I miss them."
He added: "I haven’t been home since 2017. I miss Afghanistan. So I desperately want to reach the highest level. For them.”
With his people at the forefront of his mind, he won his next four outings before securing his place in Hexagone MMA.
Ultimately, with the level of competition so fierce, Arabzai has lost his last two outings — most recently against Nika Kobaxidze in front of 7000 spectators at the Zenith Arena in Paris.
But with his journey still in its early stages, the 24-year-old has plenty of time to put things right. In a testament to his maturity, despite the result, he's aware of his how far he's come.
He reflected: " Fighting at Hexagone MMA 6 was a very big chance, and I am very proud."
And he's not ready to rest on his laurels. any time soon. With a whole story still to write, Arabzai is back in the gym and preparing for his next walk to the cage.
The prospect beamed: "I always want to train harder, and fight better."
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