How did he do that? He delivered pizza only a few years ago!

“Just sign your name down here”,
the branch manager of Crazy-Croque told me and handed me over the contract of employment.
I looked at the two pieces of paper, my eyes scrolling down to the important bit. Point 5.), salary. 4,10 Euros per hour. This is very little money. A pathetic amount.
But I did not care. I needed the cash urgently, so I signed it:
“Seyit Ali Shobeiri”.

This is who I was 10 years ago and the story is no secret.
Many people here in Hamburg know about my controversial past. Back then, when you ordered your food from Croques & Pizza, you would see my face at the door delivering the tasty goods.

Now everybody knows me as Coach Seyit and they think:
“Wow, his face is on the cover of one of the biggest fitness magazines in Europe, he’s on the radio & TV. How did he do that? He delivered pizza only a few years ago! “

You want to know how? No problem. I will tell you my story.
I am Seyit Ali Shobeiri.

My mother fled from the war in Iran to Germany in 1986, all by herself while she was pregnant with me.
For the first few years we lived in an asylum home in Quickborn, north of Hamburg. When we finally got a permanent residence permit, my mother was looking for a flat for us.

And where do people like us get a flat offered? Right! In the Hood.
A social housing flat on the 10th floor. Grey slabs upon grey slabs as far as the eye can see. This is how I moved to Billstedt / Mümmelmannsberg on Paul-Klee-Straße number 10.
It did not take long for my mother to realize:

If your son grows up here, then he has to learn to defend himself.
Shortly after, she signed me up for a judo training course. I was only 6 years old then.
I also started playing football and soon took Taekwondo lessons, too, because I needed more full contact experience for when things got heated out on the streets. There was not a single day I wouldn’t do sports.
When I was ten, my brother was born. That meant even more responsibility for me!
Boxing was very on trend at the time and I was just hitting puberty, so I turned my back on Judo and Taekwondo.

I wanted to box like Muhammed Ali.
I was a natural at boxing, and at age 15 my coach wanted me to do my first paid fight. My mother didn’t agree with it. “If you step into that ring to fight, don’t bother coming back home.”, that were her words. I was in my final year of high school and she wanted me to focus on getting good grades instead.

I respected her wish, but I continued to train like a madman and switched to Muay Thai.
After 3 months of Muay Thai training I started participating in professional fights as well as successfully taking part in a German Amateur Championship. That was all I needed.

There were many people who suddenly showed an interest in me.
Nowadays many people do martial arts – even normal people.
But back then it was different!

Normal guys working in the office were not doing martial arts.
The martial arts world consisted of tough guys who were not “clerks”. The guys who did martial arts earned their money at night.

And then there was me. The young, wild Seyit.
Time and time again shady men with expensive cars approached me offering me money, waving the notes right in my face, invited me to dinner after training. That’s when I saw 500 euro bills for the first time.

Then you sit at the table with them and they start asking you questions, “Do you need money? Do you need a job? You can work for us “.

But my answer was always NO.

Doing martial arts not only made my body strong, but I also gained much more self-confidence than I could have ever imagined.
And no matter who sat at the other end of the table, my answer was always the same:
“NO!” Fame and money didn’t impress me. Not at that price.
I have to look after myself. I am responsible for looking after my family, my little brother!

That’s why I never called the purple notes mine.
I had to deliver newspapers and hand out flyers for corner shops.

Fast forward to when I was 17 years old, a young guy, studying, doing martial arts …
… a real Hamburg boy, who was growing up in a socially troubled area and really wanted to work his way out.

It was during that time that brought the events of the night of the 17th of September. A tragic night I wasn’t meant to survive.