From Bilal to US

"There isn’t something like a perfect society"

My name is Bilal Laggoune, I’m a professional boxer since 2011.

I’m a son of two Algerian parents. I spent a big part of my childhood in a city near by the Dender River ,Ninove. Ninove is the city of my heart but I moved to Ghent with my small family. Yes, I’m a father now and I have other responsibilities outside of boxing. My story is quite original. My father left Algeria to start a new life in Europe. He first moved to France where and then he continued his life in Belgium where he also met my mother and started a family.

My parents made the choice to live in Flanders which wouldn’t have been an easy choice in the early 90’s. They chose the quiet part of Ninove it was only 25 kilometers away from Brussels but so different. We were one of the few families with a migration background in the city and that hasn’t been easy. Being the only person of colour in class or in the whole school has been difficult for me. Being seen as different made me a target of bullies and just unkind behavior. I won’t lie that I had to use my fists on several occasions. However, with time I got more mature and build a strong character. Things like racism affect me less.

My passion for boxing started when I was a teenager. I used to stay at the sports venue for hours just to watch people box. At school I was just an average student and didn’t actually know what I wanted to do with my life however I liked sports. Eventually when I was watching a kick-box training at the sports venue the coach came to me and asked me to join the local club. That day was the day my life changed. I wasn’t the same anymore and found a purpose. Once I started English boxing, I was unstoppable and the coaches saw that in me. Since then I never stopped and I’m at 25 Win’s with 14 ko’s, 1 defeat and 2 deuces.

What made the difference was my dedication. I went for 5am runs, I worked before and after school I had a healthy lifestyle and my entourage was good.

My successful boxing career made me acceptable in the society. Now that I’m living in Ghent, I realize the gravity of the racism in Ninove. Since I’m successful I don’t experience discrimination anymore.

The difference in treatment is striking especially in Ninove where I’m the pride of the city.

You know people respect you when you progress in something and that’s what I’m trying to do.

People need to understand that people leave their country for a better life. In my opinion, every human deserves a fresh start somewhere. I think that the planet is for everyone. We have to make concessions to each other and try to listen to each other journey. By creating that understanding relationship, we can live in peace.

My message to everyone would be that there isn’t something like a perfect society. We should all respect each other and show empath, if we live our lives with love and peace everything will be alright.