Ghaz on the road to glory
One of boxing’s great strengths is its ability to bring greatly different communities together. Afghan born, Bradford and Leeds-based 19-year-old Hamed Ghaz is the latest talent to tread that path.
The 6-0 (2 KOs) light-welterweight has turned some heads on small hall shows and on the undercard of the Josh Warrington-Joel Brunker card last year with some all-action performances. “My style is more of an explosive, aggressive style” was how Ghaz described himself to Boxing Monthly over the phone.
Like many, his entry into the sport was rather fortuitous.
“The first time I got into boxing was about eight years ago. I’d been doing some taekwondo but then my gym got closed down and I could never find a better gym,” Ghaz told BM. “So like sevens month went by and I wasn’t doing anything. Then my dad’s mate came round and he was persuading me to go boxing. He said, ‘It’s better than just sitting at home.’ He motivated me in the end to go.
"But at first I never wanted to do it. I was actually still looking for another taekwondo gym. But he said, ‘Trust me, even if you don’t like it, just try it. At least come and do a little bit.’ I agreed. At the time, it was my older brother and me. We joined boxing together. The first day I went into the gym, it was a little bit awkward because of the stance. It’s a very different stance to taekwondo. It was a little bit hard for me to get the techniques. After maybe a week of going to the gym every day, I really got the hang of it.
“I started really enjoying boxing more than taekwondo,” he continued. “With boxing, it was more of an aggressive thing. Punching and getting in there. So I just took to boxing. I was liking it more and more. I never missed a day, training hard. My brother and me were pushing each other.
“At the time, I was about 11 or 12 and, after about three months, I was sparring people who’d had over 10 fights and I was able to stand up to them and do well against them. A lot of trainers after the sparring sessions were saying, ‘How many fights have you had?’ And I told them I’d never had a fight. I’d not even got my boxing medical card or licence. I could tell they were shocked. Lots of people have said I’ve got that natural strength, that natural talent; if I stuck to it I’d go far.
“I just stuck to it and trained hard. As an amateur I had about 34 fights, won 29, I was three times Yorkshire champion and one time Midlands champion. Even when I used to go to amateur fights, a lot of people, the crowd, my family, my friends, people who used to watch me, used to say I had more of a professional style than an amateur. And I felt that myself.”
Such was Ghaz’s appetite to turn over, he attempted the switch before he was even allowed.
“I joined Burmantofts Gym [one of Leeds premier gyms] a couple of years ago as an amateur,” he told BM. “I wanted to turn pro before the age of 18, about 17. So, I spoke to Mark Bateson [promoter and father of star amateur Jack Bateson] and said I wanted to. I found out you had to be 18 and I had to wait another year. As soon as I turned 18, boom, I turned professional. As a pro I’ve had six fights. I’ve won all six, two by knockout. I’m looking forward to training hard and getting bigger fights and achievements.”
Ghaz’s eagerness is tempered with a sensible attitude towards his progression, however.
“I’m fighting in on 20 May [at Elland Road banqueting suite in Leeds]. I’m just building my record and learning my trade as a professional because I didn’t have a great deal of amateur fights,” he said. “I think the next fight will be a four-rounder. I’ve done a six before. But after this fight, I’ll be doing one or two six-round fights then move up to eight, then move up to 10 and then I’ll be open class. So hopefully, by the time I’m 21, 22, I’ll be able to fight anyone in the country.
“I don’t want to rush and get in with people who are older than me, more experienced, have every advantage. I’ve still got time to grow. There’s no rush. I’m only 19, going to be 20 soon. My sponsors, Shak Specialist cars, Cake Zoya and Jinnah Restaurant Leeds have helped a great deal.”
The young man who came to the UK as a child also feels completely at home here and has the urge like many to represent his local area with pride.
“I left Afghanistan along time ago,” he said. “I feel Leeds and Bradford, England itself. That’s home. It just feels like home. I’ve spent most of my life here.”
Tickets for the ‘Road To Glory’ card in Leeds on 20May are available either from Hamed directly on 07455599995 or from http://www.wybp.co.uk/welcome/4535459221