Advertisement
Advertisement

Naim Terbunja: Al Haymon Fighter Stuck in Sweden

By Mitch Abramson
 
Two years ago, a young boxer from Sweden swept through the New York boxing landscape, leaving a trail of frustrated, defeated boxers in his wake. Blond and handsome, with a casual demeanor, Naim Terbunja was a boxer on the 2008 Swedish Olympic team with a grand ambition: to make it as a boxer in the U.S. To that end, Terbunja moved to Shirley, L.I. in 2009 to compete in the New York Golden Gloves.

Few knew of Terbuna before the tournament, but after he beat Marcus Browne- the same Marcus Browne of Staten Island who is now the 178-pound representative on the 2012 U.S. Olympic team - in the 2009 New York Golden Gloves 165-pound open class, Terbunja, then 24, earned a name for himself (along with plenty of criticism that he may have flouted tournament rules by seemingly relocating here from Sweden for the express purpose of winning the Gloves, which is a no-no.)

A week later, Terbunja captured the prestigious National Golden Gloves in Salt Lake City, establishing himself as one of the top amateurs in the country. It was quite a year for Terbunja. At the end of 2010, Terbunja said he signed with manager Al Haymon, who currently advises Floyd Mayweather and Andre Berto, among others. Terbunja seemed headed for success. All the pieces were in place for him to launch a lucrative boxing career.

But something happened on the way to Haymon’s penthouse floor.

Terbunja, who was born in Prishtina, Albania, and later moved to Sweden as a boy, has been unable to re-enter the U.S. and obtain a work visa, and his plans of turning professional in the U.S. have been suddenly put on hold.

For the past year he’s been stuck in his hometown of Linköping, Sweden, trying to acquire a visa. Though he’s had Swedish Olympic and boxing officials petition the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on his behalf, he’s been thwarted at every turn, for reasons that elude him, he says. The USCIS is a part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and is responsible for processing immigrant visa petitions. 

“I’m incredibly frustrated,” Terbunja, now 27, said in a phone interview with BoxingScene.com. “My only explanation for what’s happening right now is that there are people who work for the USCIS that are either incompetent or they don’t know anything about boxing. All they have to know is that I have a contract [to go pro]. I have even sent them ten different names of boxers from Sweden who got visas, and these boxers don’t even have half the credentials that I have.”

While he was in the states for the Golden Gloves, Terbunja had been able to relocate to Long Island on a tourist visa, since he wasn’t making any money, he said. But now that he is trying to make his pro debut, the process has become more complicated, he says. And he stubbornly refuses to turn professional anywhere but the U.S., holding out hope that in the next few weeks he will able to obtain a work visa for athletes, that would allow him to earn money in this country, paving the way for his pro debut.

Terbunja, 27, says that an attorney working for Al Haymon named Tammy Lee, who is based in Manhattan, has been working on his behalf to facilitate the visa process. But the process is wearing on Terbunja, who continues to work out with the Swedish national boxing team. Lee did not immediately return a call seeking comment; the USCIS declined to comment on the case.

“I hope that I will get the visa this year otherwise I don’t know if I’ll even get to turn pro,” he said. “I never had a problem with anyone, never got arrested, never got in trouble. I’ve been to the U.S. many times. I never caused any problems. But one year without fighting is not good for my career. I’m starting to think that maybe I should start thinking about doing something else [with my life].”

If his efforts to get a visa are eventually successful, he plans on returning to Shirley, L.I., to train with Mike Murphy, who got him ready for the Golden Gloves tournament. He is hesitant to turn pro in Europe, even though he says he has received interest from several promoters to turn pro. He remains steadfast in his desire to turn pro in the U.S. and box for Haymon.

“Before I got in contact with Mr. Haymon, before I moved to the U.S., I didn’t even think about pro boxing,” he said. “Here in Swedan, they just started with pro boxing. It’s very small. I just know that if you want to achieve anything in this sport, you have to go to the U.S. You have to make it there.”

Mitch Abramson covers boxing for the New York Daily News and BoxingScene.com.

Tags: Naim Terbunja image  
User Comments and Feedback (Register For Free To Comment) Comment by paulf on 11-20-2011

Kid never heard of Sauerland?

Comment by Heru on 11-19-2011

Don't be foolish, if you want to turn pro and the US isn't giving you a visa, start fighting in Sweden or any other part of Europe. A host of promoters across Europe (and even Canada or Mexico, if you…

Comment by Kagami Taiga on 11-19-2011

[QUOTE=jri9d0;11448041]I thought Haymon didn’t market white dudes?[/QUOTE] only color haymon cares about is green.

Comment by #CaneloKhan on 11-19-2011

[QUOTE=warp1432;11448058]Article headline a couple of days later: HBO to televise first broadcast from Sweden.[/QUOTE] LMFAO that would be funy

Comment by warp1432 on 11-19-2011

Article headline a couple of days later: HBO to televise first broadcast from Sweden.

Post a Comment/View More User Comments (6)
Top Headlines Lara on Canelo-Golovkin Beef: Canelo Should Vacate, I'll Fight Both! Photos: Anthony Crolla, Ismael Barroso Ready For Manchester War Video: Chisora Hit By Bottle, Loses His Mind at Pulev Weighin Weights From Manchester: Crolla 134.5, Barroso 134.3 NJ Changes How Referees Assess Hurt Fighters After Knockdowns Haye-Gjergjaj Radio Broadcast Rights Picked Up By talkSPORT Lemieux: Let's See How Tapia Adapts, I'm Sure I'm Gonna Hit Him WBC Prez Admits Tough Spot - if Mayweather, Khan Target Garcia Lennox Lewis: This is Khan's Time To Secure Place With UK Stars Nonito Donaire's Next Defense in Cebu or Dubai - With Magdaleno? Euro News: Edis Tatli, Eva Wahlstrom, Schwarz, Soslan Tedeev Crolla-Barroso: Marcus Morrison Pumped For WBC Title Fight Holyfield Cautions That Khan Must Make Adustments At All Times Anthony Yigit Aims To Steal The Show at Barclaycard Arena Video: Virgil Hunter Discusses Factors in Canelo vs. Khan David Haye: I'll Be Surprised if Shannon Briggs Beats Dimitrenko Video: Lennox Lewis Hits Las Vegas For Canelo vs. Khan Canelo's Trainer: Golovkin is Not a Difficult Fight, It's Only Tough Hopkins: Big Not Always Better, But Canelo KO's Khan in 9 or 10 Glen Tapia on David Lemieux Fight: I Will Turn My Haters Into Fans Video: WBC Prez on Canelo-Golovkin Situation, Khan, Stevenson Hunter: Khan Winning is No Upset, Canelo is NOT Very Good Video: Evander Holyfield Breaks Down The Heavyweight Division Hunter Feels Canelo's Edge Due to Weight a Bit Exaggerated Video: Hopkins on Donald Trump, Caitlyn Jenner, Canelo-Khan Khan Says KO is Tough, Confident He Can Box Canelo's Ears Off Photos/Weights: Marvin Quintero vs. Petr Petrov, More De La Hoya: People Laughed at My Pacquiao Fight - He Retired Me! Video: Lucas Matthysse on Career Status, Future in Boxing Video: Eddie Hearn Talks Joshua, Fury, Crolla, Groves, Murray Photos: Canelo vs. Khan Undercard Final Press Conference Hunter Admits Amir Khan Lacking 'Killer Instinct' in His Arsenal Felix Diaz vs. Miguel Vazquez: PBC on FS1, 5/28 WBC: Adonis Stevenson Must Face Eleider Alvarez After Next Fight Video: Joe Gallagher Talks Crolla vs. Barroso Clash Canelo-Khan II Would Be Pursued in '16 if Khan Wins De La Hoya's Story in Doubt as Trump 'Great Golfer' Video Surfaces Alantez Fox Faces Milton Nunez on PBC on Bounce Video: Anthony Crolla Ready For Barroso Showdown WBC Prez: Mayweather is Champion Emeritus Like Klitschko Was
Advertisement

Latest Active Forum Threads
Advertisement
Advertisement