From Canning Town to the Finnish army
PUBLISHED: 14:00 02 September 2015 | UPDATED: 14:54 02 September 2015
Stephen Nixon’s life has taken a different path to that of his primary school classmates.
The 20-year-old moved from Canning Town to Finland at the age of seven with his mum and has now enlisted in the Finnish army.
He has served for two months so far and has another seven to complete.
“It’s hard to get used to,” he said.
“It’s a nice country here though. I miss my dad and my brother but I get to see them.”
The former Star Lane pupil grew up in Ordnance Road before leaving in 2002.
He completed his education in Finland, becoming fluent in the language and gaining a diploma in security.
Having dual Finnish and British nationality meant that Stephen could have opted out of military service, but the aspiring boxer chose to show his allegiance to the country he now lives in.
The relocation as a child “took a lot of getting used to” but Stephen now admits to feeling more Finnish than British and has no plans to leave the country.
“If you’re living in Finland you have to either join the army, do civilian service or go to jail for a certain period of time,” he explained.
All young men are required to complete nine or 12 months of service, with women able to take part should they choose to.
Once Stephen, who lives in the town of Huittinen, south west Finland, finishes his service he will carry on with the job and sport he had before enrolling.
“Before I went in the army, I started boxing,” he said.
“I worked as a security guard and a bouncer, and I’ll probably continue doing that around my boxing training.
“It’s my dream to be a professional boxer, but I know that’s a long way off.”
Stephen’s dad Tom, who still lives in Canning Town, added that he was “very proud of what he has done”.
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