Zafeer is a fourteen year old kid from Long Island, NY who, like many, loves video games. But, unlike many Long Islanders, he was born with an extremely rare genetic disorder called Charge Syndrome. It only affects 50,000 people in the U.S and has rendered Zafeer nearly blind and deaf. Despite his condition, he’s kept a positive outlook and has even taken up boxing as a hobby. He and his mother filled us in on what it was like growing up with this ailment, why he decided to box, and future plans for the young FighterHeart.
No Childhood Like Others
Growing up for Zafeer hasn’t been easy, but he has always been destined to come out on top as his mother Monique explains, “although he’s been fighting his whole life, his name actually means victorious, and that’s exactly what he is.” Participating in school sports was in particularly difficult for Zafeer, “whenever I play hard at school sports, players won’t pass me the ball. Sometimes the ball would be thrown too high and I couldn’t reach it” he said. After a few years in elementary school Zafeer came to the realization that he liked sports but just didn’t know which one. He and his mother Monique became determined to find a sport that Zafeer liked and could excel in.
An Athlete at Heart
It was at that point Zafeer and his mother came across Kayo Boxing in Long Island, NY. “We found this program, and he’s been loving it. We decided to do boxing because Zafeer is an athlete at heart. There may have been other programs that he wanted to try but none that necessarily were able to accommodate Zafeer’s disabilities” said Monique. So what do he and his mother think of his new sport? “With boxing, I can just be myself” said Zafeer. “I think boxing puts him in a great place where he can get one on one time and really learn as well as have a great time. He loves coming, and we come back every single week” Monique added. We asked what Zafeer thought a FighterHeart athlete to be, and his answer didn’t disappoint as we have found that he certainly falls under his own definition, “it’s someone who fights until the end, no matter how long or short the fight is” he said.
When you fall down you have to get back up
Zafeer has proven just by getting up everyday and living his life with his ailments that he has what it takes to call himself a FighterHeart athlete. “I think that when you see him on paper, that a lot of people have these restrictions and limitations that they put on him. But, when you see him in person, he’s a completely different from what you expected” said his proud mother Monique in response to what people think of Zafeer. We ended off asking Monique for advice to mothers who may find themselves with a child who has Charge Syndrome or something similar, “it’s a challenge, it’s a struggle. When you fall down you have to get back up and do your best. I believe mothers should give their children the opportunity to do whatever they want and are capable of, and work with them on that level to get better.” As our interview ended Zafeer enthusiastically got into the ring and began sparring with his Coach Mike as we all watched this fourteen year old fighter show us a thing or two.