To say the hero of Adbul-Bari Award – nicknamed Kid Galahad – is Naseem Hamed is an understatement. Galahad has based his whole career, and most of his life, on the pugilistic great ‘Prince Naz’.
It was a chance meeting with Hamed at a Sheffield mosque when he was a troubled teen that put him on the path to boxing and to stardom. Galahad idolized the multi-world champion, who like him has Yemeni parents, and it was Hamed who advised him to train under his former coach Brendan Ingle.
The featherweight took the advice and since the age of 13 has been molded by the Ingles ever since. It was Brendan Ingle who christened him ‘Kid Galahad’ and who guided his career until his sad death last year.
Galahad has closely followed Hamed’s path. He grew up above a corner shop, like Hamed, and went to live in a house on the same street as Ingle’s Wincobank gym, like Hamed.
Kid Galahad has built an undefeated record with a series of flashy knockouts, like his idol, but now has set his sights on winning Hamed’s old IBF featherweight belt. Only Leeds fighter Josh Warrington stands between him and becoming a world champion.
Galahad’s ascent up the boxing ladder hasn’t been all rosy though. In May 2015 he was banned for two years when he tested positive for steroids. He still maintains his innocence that his brother spiked his drink after an argument.
Galahad returned to the ring in 2016 and since then has won eight fights in a row. His record now stands at an impressive 26 and 0, undefeated with 15 knockouts.
“I’m feeling good, training has gone well and all the talking is done,” he told reporters this week. Just a few more sleeps and that belt is coming back to Sheffield. I just know, it is destiny and I have been dreaming about this all my life. I have always known I would fight Josh as a professional and I just can’t wait now.”
The spirit of Ingle, and the goal of emulating Hamed, is driving Galahad on.
“The last thing Brendan Ingle gave me was a tee-shirt from when Naz fought Boom Boom Johnson for the IBF title,” he admitted.
“It is destiny. I was very close to Brendan and I spent most of my time with him. If it wasn’t for him I would probably be locked up or dead. When I do win he will be watching me. When that title is around my waist he will be smiling up above.”
There’s no denying that Galahad is up against it on Saturday. Warrington is taller, more experienced and on home turf. He is a world champion with a warrior-like demeanour and all-action style, and the deserved favourite.
Warrington has tussled with higher-calibre fighters than Galahad. The Doha-born boxer will have to go above and beyond to fulfill his dream, despite his pre-fight boasts.
“I don’t really fear much about Josh. He is a good fighter but I believe I have sparred better fighters than him in the past like Linares, Ricky Burns, Kell Brook – the list goes on. They keep going on about him beating Lee Selby and Carl Frampton, but I have sparred better kids than he has boxed.”