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Tricked into leaving the Paris ghetto for a new life in the UK by his concerned mother – Alex Lohore can't help but ponder what horrors he may have faced if she didn't.
Now fighting under the OKTAGON MMA banner after spells with Bamma and Bellator among others, he is now three wins away from £260,000 payday while those he knew live a life of struggle.
The French-born welterweight who also represents the Ivory Coast and United Kingdom, has watched on from across the English Channel as friends he grew up with were thrown in jail and even lost their lives.
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Speaking to Daily Star Sport before his OKTAGON Tipsport GAMECHANGER quarter-final against former champion David Kozma, Lohore spoke about his troubled beginnings.
He said: "My origin is from the Ivory Coast but I was born in France. I was raised in the suburbs of Paris where most of the immigrants were put after they arrived.
"It was a ghetto with estates and everyone was quite poor because our parents weren't educated enough to get proper jobs. We were all put in together and everyone was just trying to live. That lifestyle brings you up to do certain things that you're not supposed to do."
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Worried about the dangerous path that was in front of her 15-year-old son, Lohore's mother sent him to live with his uncle in England – and told him it was just a holiday.
He continued: "My mum didn't want that for me so she decided to send me to the UK for a better life and to see if I could find myself here.
"First of all when she sent me over, it was supposed to be a holiday. My uncle told me that I wasn't going back and I thought he was playing around.
"I was only 15 and it was a difficult time, I cried, leaving everything behind was very hard. Imagine having 15 years of your life with your friends, girlfriend, your routine.
"I was comfortable and happy and having that change was… I couldn't even speak English, I was 15 but it was like being a newborn. I had to start everything again, making new friends and learning the language. It wasn't easy."
Angry in the moment, time has been a healer with Lohore finding fame as a mixed martial artist with 23 wins and eight defeats from his professional career.
He added: "Now I look back and I'm so grateful to my Mum for doing it, I would never change it. I'm bilingual with French and English and it will be the same for my kids.
"She saved me from turning bad – I'm a professional mixed martial artist and I've have a good career. I wouldn't change it. It's a blessing and everyday I thank her.
"She still lives in France in the same place, when I go back it gives me more drive. That's where I came from and most people don't become anything.
"Most of my friends, some of them are in jail, some of them are dead, some of them are still doing stupid things on the streets. Some of them are good with good jobs and doing well with themselves – but that's a minority."
Having bounced back from defeat to earn place in OKTAGON's welterweight tournament which includes €1million (£870.000) in prize total money with £260,000 going to the winner, he secured a first-round victory over Samuel Kristofic to reach the last eight.
Training out of Great Britain Top Team under Brad Pickett and alongside the likes of Nathanial Wood – Lohore already can secure at least £70k with a win at OKTAGON 43 on Saturday (May 20).
OKTAGON 43 can be watched live in the UK with a DAZN subscription, with the promotion bringing a bumper card to Manchester featuring Jake Quickenden later in the year.
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