Nikki Bascome said he almost quit boxing after the death of his longtime coach and father figure Allan “Forty” Rego.
Rego died aged 86 in February, just a few months after Bascome’s first defeat — a fourth-round knockout by Portuguese Fábio Costa at the Fairmont Southampton last November.
Bascome has shared his intimate thoughts on the impact of that brutal loss, his special relationship with Rego and his move to Las Vegas to train at the Mayweather Boxing Club in an inspirational video entitled: “The Restoration: A Comeback Story”.
On his defeat by Costa, Bascome said: “I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t thought about hanging up the gloves after losing. I never thought I’d lose as a professional fighter.
“I’d look in the mirror every day and tell myself repeatedly that ‘I’m a winner, I’m a winner, I’m a winner’, and I believed it.
“November 11, 2017 it all changed; going toe-to-toe with a bigger man — boom — I got caught and got knocked out in front of my home fans,
“It was the wrong game plan and the better man won. What can I say? I take my hat off to him.”
The 27-year-old, who lost both of his parents by the age of seven, had a special bond with Rego and was left devastated by his death from cancer.
“I spent a lot of time with Mr Rego,” Bascome said. “For 13 years of our lives we were around each other practically every day. When it was quiet he would always sing songs he used to perform when he was in a band.
“He was always telling me stories about his life experiences growing up. Even though I’d heard the stories a million times it was always a lesson for me.
“When we were away from home that’s when we really bonded. We spent so much time together, we had so many laughs — it was always just me and him.
“For me, boxing will never be the same. He was like the father I never had. When I lost him it was devastating. I was hurt, I was scared and I was lost. I really didn’t know if I wanted to box again. He was always there for me, always guiding me, always looking out for me. He really wanted the best for me. Of course we bumped heads, we argued, but we always let it go. That’s what father and son do.”
Bascome said he was hurt by the stinging criticism he received, particularly on social media, after his loss but still uses Rego’s words of wisdom as a source of motivation.
“One thing I can say about losing for the first time is that it was definitely a new territory for me.” Bascome said.
“I had to deal with a new level of criticism. Whoever was against me for whatever reason I gave them, they were one up on me. That’s just how I am, I feel like the world is against me sometimes. I gave them something to talk about, but as my coach Rego used to always say, ‘Whatever they say about you, whether it’s good or bad, it must be true’. I guess that was his way of saying that they can say whatever they want.”
Bascome cherishes the time he spent with Rego, particularly his memories of their training trips to Orlando, Florida, and speaks directly to his former coach during the 13-minute video. He also addresses comments made by Rego in the aftermath of the Costa fight in which his coach publicly expressed doubts whether Bascome could bounce back from such a vicious knockout.
“Hey Rego, if you’re listening I want you to know that I cherish all of the great times we had together, the ups, the downs. Any success I had it’s because of you.
“Unfortunately your last time with me in the ring didn’t go how we wanted. I want you to know whatever was said after I never held on to it. And I know you didn’t mean nothing by it.
“I still love you the same. What you did for me inside and outside of the ring, I will always admire and respect you for it. You did it with the little resources you had. “You grew me into a champion and a true champion at that because you know what they say, true champions bounce back. I’m proud and honoured to be your fighter. You’re on my mind all of the time.”
Soon after the knockout defeat by Costa, Bascome became a father, his partner giving birth to a girl, Ryver.
“Eleven days after my fight God blessed me with a beautiful, little baby girl,” Bascome said. “Even though I lost he still rewarded me to keep my spirits up. And indeed it was the best moment of my life.
“Unfortunately at the same breath I didn’t know I’d be losing my coach to cancer. That particular time in my life there was a lot on my plate all at once.”
Born in Baltimore, but raised in Bermuda, Bascome lost both parents to Aids-related illnesses by the age of seven, leaving deep wounds filled with sadness, isolation and an anger that threatened to destroy his future.
As far as Bascome is concerned, his late mother and father are for ever in his corner, their faces tattooed on his washboard stomach, a constant source of motivation, inspiration and a powerful reminder of his indomitable spirit.
“I lost my momma and daddy to Aids when I was real young,” he said. “I hardly remember them. I really wish they were here and that I got to know them, hence the reason I got their faces tattooed on my stomach. Where I go they go.
“I was extremely lucky not to get the virus. When I found out how they passed, I was scared. I wondered, ‘Do I have it?’. Once I found out I didn’t I knew I was blessed, I had a purpose. Every day, when I was by myself, I was wondering, thinking, ‘I must be here for a reason’. I guess boxing was my reason.
“I found it when I was 14 years old. At that time of my life I was always getting into a lot of trouble, always fighting and getting suspended from school.
“I was really headed on a path to destruction and I guess I was looking for attention in all of the wrong places. But boxing definitely moulded me and gave me discipline, order and character. I finally had a stage to entertain people and I loved it. Without boxing I swear I don’t know where I would be.”
Bascome has spent the past three months training in Las Vegas with his new coach Jeff Mayweather, the uncle of Floyd — the undefeated former multiple-weight world champion. The pair have been busy fixing Bascome’s defensive weaknesses.
“If you know about the Mayweathers then you know they’re the best defensive trainers in the game,” Bascome said. “And Jeff’s speciality is defence — that’s something I was lacking in my last fight.
“Since I’ve been working with Jeff I can feel the improvement, my sight is better, my timing is better and my reflexes are sharper. Right know I’m like a sponge soaking up all of the knowledge he is teaching me. Every day I’m just working hard and getting closer to that WBF title.”