Boxing: Family dominate Hamed struggle

Frank Warren and Brendan Ingle face an uphill fight in the battle to control the future of Naseem Hamed.

AS THE power struggle surrounding Naseem Hamed approaches its acrimonious conclusion, the words spoken by the World Boxing Organisation champion's older brother, Nabeel, at the end of last year have taken on a prophetic tone. In an interview with the author Nick Pitt for the book The Paddy and the Prince, 28-year-old Nabeel, then the manager of his brother's fan club, said: "A lot of people laugh when they hear we're building an empire but it's better for us if they do. Wait and see."

Nabeel and the eldest Hamed brother, 29-year-old Riath (until recently Hamed's business manager), have long ceased being a joke to their rivals. Respectively the promotions director and managing director ("we've given ourselves new job titles," said Riath) of Prince Naseem Enterprises - offshore bank accounts and all - the brothers have become increasingly influential, to the point where, now, total autonomy is within their grasp.

Plainly, changes need to be made. The fighter's career hit an all-time low at the end of last month in Atlantic City. The terrible atmosphere surrounding Hamed's dour points victory over Wayne McCullough has been reported extensively. And the general consensus reached by the bulk of the media is that the champion and his bandwagon have gone off the rails. Where, one gets the impression, journalism would be quite happy to let it stay and rot.

The bulk of the criticism for the unedifying events in the seedy East Coast gambling centre has been levelled at Hamed himself. But the growing proliferation of factions seeking to control the champion created a tension that could only result in an explosion. Something had to give, and it was Hamed, who for so long had represented the calm at the eye of the storm that has grown proportionately with his wealth, now estimated to be in the region of pounds 15m.

This remarkably self-possessed young man had, somehow, appeared able to operate comfortably within the paranoid environment created by the warring parties. But in Atlantic City, for the first time in 31 undefeated fights, Hamed's level of performance suffered. Although winning comfortably against McCullough, Hamed's showing was widely slated as his worst ever.

The backstage battles had led the champion to the crossroads; defeat - and all its repercussions - was becoming a distinct possibility for the world's dominant featherweight. And those who sought to control his career realised that they had to resolve their situations fast, while there was still a career left for them to squabble over.

Within the next two weeks, the power struggle will be decided and the Hamed family axis are favour-ites to finish in front of Brendan Ingle and Frank Warren, the men who respectively taught and promoted Naseem into a position of worldwide prominence.

Warren's promotional contract with Hamed has expired, bringing speculation that his five-year association with the 24-year-old boxer, is about to end. Manager/trainer Ingle has already been marginalised following unflattering revelations about the fighter in Pitt's book.

Hamed is due to return from holiday in Florida within the next few days and, when Riath returns from his own break in Cyprus next week, negotiations are set to take place with Warren, whose uncharacteristic "no comment" stance suggests that he fears the worst.

Ingle, whose role has been systematically eroded since the Hamed family first became involved in Naseem's career four years ago, has announced that his loyalty lies with Warren and not the boxer through whom he has become a millionaire. If Hamed splits with Warren, he does so with Ingle, too, says the trainer who recently has been referred to as a "Judas" by the fighter he discovered and nurtured.

Warren's association with Hamed began in 1994, at a time when Nabeel Hamed worked as a car mechanic and Riath was a community liaison officer in Sheffield. The fighter had previously been promoted by Barry Hearn and then Mickey Duff, but it was under Warren that Hamed's career took off; within a year, a prospect earning pounds 25,000 per fight had turned into a world champion with purses in the pounds 1m bracket. It was Warren who negotiated Hamed's pounds 12m, six-fight deal with the American cable television network, Home Box Office.

Losing control of the jewel in his stable's crown would be a bitter blow to the promoter, whose much-publicised legal war with his former partner, Don King, stems directly from Warren's efforts to further Hamed's career in the United States. Warren felt that HBO were more able than King's exclusive TV outlet, Showtime, to "move" Hamed. And the evidence suggests he was correct, Indeed, it is difficult to spot where Warren may have made a wrong move in guiding Hamed's career.

But blood is thicker than water and Hamed the fighter has stated many times that the only people he trusts are his family. "Because the promotions make so much money, we want a larger share," said Riath. "As Naz has to take all the risks and all the flak, the money should be more in Naz's favour. We're not saying that Naz has done it all by himself, but he is the one who takes all the risks and that should be reflected."

As outsiders, boxing powerbrokers with limited experience gained in only four years, there is a wholesale distrust of the Hamed clan. And any blame that was not heaped upon their brother's shoulders for the goings-on in Atlantic City was, by and large, apportioned to them.

"I know that in everyone's eyes we're playing a very dangerous game, but we have to act in Naz's best interests," said Riath. "And after Atlantic City we realise exactly what we're up against. We're challenging the status quo, and there are people - including a large proportion of the media, who are hell-bent on protecting it. I believe that the press coverage of my brother's last fight was completely orchestrated, 100 per cent.

"But the time has come for people to stop pointing the finger and blaming all and sundry for what went on. We must move on, for Naz's sake. We still want to work with Mr Warren out of loyalty and respect. But we now have no contractual relationship with any promoter in the world. We now have all the worldwide rights to my brother's career and we don't see why Naz should not be getting the bulk of the financial rewards."

Whether Warren will be happy with the share he is likely to be offered remains to be seen, but the fact remains that having even one finger in the lucrative Hamed pie beats having none at all. Ingle has already faced this choice; relegated to the role of "corner adviser" for the McCullough fight, where his advice was steadfastly and studiously ignored, Ingle appears to have accepted what has been offered for the sake of the careers of his sons, John and Dominic, who are now installed as Hamed's official trainers.

As he walked alone on the Atlantic City Boardwalk, Ingle had the forlorn look of a man who has created a monster. Every action, every word or gesture, seemed to suggest he was asking himself: "Is it worth the hassle." And at some time that thought that must have crossed the minds of everyone involved in this sorry saga, family or otherwise.

Glyn Leach is the editor

of Boxing Monthly

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing & Sales Manager

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A reputable organisation within the leisure i...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Recruitment Genius: Doctors - Dubai - High "Tax Free" Earnings

£96000 - £200000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Looking for a better earning p...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer

£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly expanding company in ...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system