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Hamza Yassin, 32, was admittedly the underdog of the 2022 series of Strictly, being far less well-known than his celebrity competitors like Kym Marsh and Tony Adams. However, before he captured the nation’s hearts on the dancefloor, Hamza battled dyslexia, racism and even homelessness, proving it’s a turbulent road to the top.
Hamza’s smiling personality and humble appreciation for critiques have been noted even by the Strictly judges, and this approach to obstacles and criticism has been hard-earned.
Away from the Strictly ballroom, Hamza is an avid wildlife photographer and cameraman, and the host of CBeebies' Let’s Go For a Walk, as Ranger Hamza.
The wildlife enthusiast left Sudan when he was eight years old as his parents were invited to live and work as medics in Northampton.
Hamza’s fascination with wildlife was sparked through documentaries by the iconic Sir David Attenborough and Steve Irwin and he became determined to either be “exactly like them” or their cameraman.
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He went on to study Zoology at Bangor University and then earned a Masters in Biological Photography and Imaging at the University of Nottingham.
When he turned 21, he decided to go live in the Ardnamurchan peninsula, an incredibly remote area in Scotland, to pursue his dreams of being a wildlife photographer.
With no job and no housing, Hamza’s parents believed it would be a short stay; but they couldn’t have been more wrong as the presenter has now been there for over a decade.
To make it work when he first arrived, Hamza lived in his car for a year and used a nearby community centre to wash his clothes.
Hamza was determined to become a wildlife photographer, even braving homelessness to do so
Hamza and Jowita's latest performance was in dedication to Hamza's work in nature
Hamza admitted he had experienced racism his whole life, tweeting in 2020: “As a young black man, I have been through my fair share of racism throughout my life, and have overcome it.
"But things have to change, we have to educate each other.”
Alongside these daily struggles, the Strictly superstar is also “severely dyslexic”, which he claims has served him well on the show.
The Sun reported Hamza shared: “I think my dyslexia helps because Jowita will show me a video of what I’m doing wrong and what it needs to look like.
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“I’m severely dyslexic to the extent that I have to get stuff on a voice note to me. I think in 3D, so I know spatially where everything is. For sure, it’s my superpower.
While his dyslexia became a surprising advantage, Hamza voiced his concerns to the judges earlier this month that he was “too big to jive”, a thought which his partner Jowita Przystał, 28, quickly shut down saying “you’re meant to jive”.
The gruelling training schedule is putting the photographer through his paces, and he has reportedly been losing two pounds a week since starting the competition.
Hamza has become a fan-favourite on Strictly, topping the leaderboard three times and receiving near-perfect scores with his partner Jowita.
Strictly Comes Dancing continues on Saturday at 6:50 on BBC One.