Being diagnosed with leukaemia at three years old, life was never going to be easy for Miguel Bugeja. But it wasn’t going to stop him from becoming the Olympic boxer he’s always wanted to be.
“Miguel is obsessed with boxing,” Yanica Xuereb, his cousin, told Lovin Malta. “He used to train after rounds of chemotherapy at Rainbow Ward, which is where he picked up his nickname from the nurses – ‘Warrior’. He ended up taking his punching bag into the ward with him!”
For Miguel, boxing was more than just his passion – it reminded him of his nannu, who began training Miguel at the tender age of five. Once his nannu passed away, boxing was one of the most important things left that reminded him of his beloved grandfather.
A bone marrow transplant became the only option that made sense for Miguel… but it came with one serious complication
“He is clear of cancer now, but the bone marrow transplant left him with eyesight complications which has been really hard for him and everyone else in the family,” Yanica said. “He likes to be very independent, yet now he needs help.”
Miguel has thankfully found some incredible support from the Maltese boxing scene, who involve him in as much as they can.
“The Maltese boxers all love Miguel, so much so that they are constantly calling to see how he is doing, taking him with them to see fights, and even letting him enter the ring to give prizes, they are amazing people!” said Yanica, who is appreciative of the way local boxers treat her little cousin.
In his young life, Miguel has already developed a strong inner strength built up after years of chemotherapy and battling his cancer
“He has been close to death countless times,” she said, “in so much pain, and it’s just unimaginable to me and you. He was in the hospital for six months straight, but he never gave up, not once! And that makes him my hero!”
When Miguel grows up, his dream is to be in the army – but only when he isn’t boxing
“He trains almost every day, even if it is a bit tougher because of his eyes, but he is still obsessed with training,” Yanica said. “Even though he is 10 years younger than me, I still learn from his everyday – he’s taught me that no matter how many times you feel down and hopeless, you need to push yourself and be the best version of yourself!
“Life’s not about how hard of a hit you can give… it’s about how many you can take and still keep moving forward,” she ended. “To keep living!”
“He is our little miracle, because through it all he always stayed strong, and gave us strength, even when we were the ones who were supposed to give it to him.”