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

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Fans hold up a scarf at West Ham vs Liverpool
footballAfter Arsenal's clear victory, focus turns to West Ham vs Liverpool
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
News
news
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Sport
football
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Qualified Primary Teaching Assistant

£64 - £73 per day + Competitive rates based on experience : Randstad Education...

Primary KS2 NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Primary NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Primary NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam