Sheffield’s Naseem Hamed deserves his belated recognition says boxing community

Slippery customer: Naseem Hamed in his hey day...an astonishing talent.
Slippery customer: Naseem Hamed in his hey day...an astonishing talent.
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Naseem Hamed - one of the most charismatic and controversial figures in Sheffield sporting history was inducted into the Hall of Fame in New York over the weekend.

The one time world champion (won 36 (KO 31) lost 1) is unquestionably one of the best fighters to come out of Britain.

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But in his home city of Sheffield, there are mixed memories about him, mainly due to a road crash which injured two people and led to him being jailed.

The local boxing community, however, are all in agreement that Hamed deserved to be inducted, joining other Brits like Barry McGuigan, Lennox Lewis and Joe Calzaghe.

Former Ingle gym mate Jon Buster Keeton said: “He was an amazing talent - although he had issues outside the ring. Huge amounts of money rarely brings out the best in people especially when your big following think you can do no wrong. He loved his toys and made some terrible mistakes, a poor man nearly lost his life because of one in particular. I knew Naz before the money and had some great times. He could have been greatest of all time if he had stayed with Brendan Ingle.”

Clinton Woods: “As a featherweight he was a brilliant fighter and incredibly entertaining, demolishing some talented opposition along the way until he was beaten by one of the best ever (Marco Antonio Barrera.) He didn’t always treat others well, but he was always very respectful with me. If I’d have beaten Antonio Tarver and Roy Jones Jr, maybe I would have got inducted. But I am not bothered and think we should celebrate what Naz achieved in the ring - this is about the boxing not the person.

“I remember being in a pub when he fought Kevin Kelley. Everybody cheered when he got knocked to the canvas - and then everybody cheered when he got up and won. He is a guy people love and hate at the same time.”

Junior Witter: “He was one of the best boxers in the world. He deserves to be recognised for his talent.”

Dave Coldwell: “People forget the champions he beat and how he made the smaller divisions attractive to a wider audience. A whole new generation of people started watching boxing. Yes, he’s like Marmite - you love him or hate him. But lots of people have tried to imitate him since: no one has come close.”

Glyn Rhodes: “The accident he was involved in with his car was terrible but he served his time and he should be judged on his boxing achievements in the ring so I agree he should be inducted. I went a few years ago and it’s like boxing heaven for the weekend.”

Ross Burkinshaw: “The Hamed family paid for me as a kid to visit the Hall of Fame in New York in July 2001 and I’ll never forget that experience.

“I was in the changing rooms once when Naz introduced me to Puff Daddy - it was amazing. He was an inspiration and will always be a legend in boxing terms. He was the reason I turned professional. He deserves to be acknowledged.”

Lee Connelly: “I think it’s great. Some people watched him hoping he would lose but he was always talked about good or bad. He was unique in the way he acted outside the ring and his style inside of it, always brought excitement and he must be pound for pound one of the hardest punchers ever. Great to watch but I’m not sure if I like him in person.”

Tom Mcassey: “Naz, in my opinion, did under achieve but has been the best and most entertaining fighter to come out of England. If he’d carried on boxing he would have made more money then Mayweather! Every body wanted to watch him. I also think the (Ingle) gym wouldn’t have the reputation it has got without Naz, he’s made every one want to train in that gym. But Brendan? What a legend, I feel lucky to have met that man in my life time.”