Ali Hamed spoke for the first time today about his complex relationship with his controversial brother Naz - and said he’d like the flamboyant former world champion to show interest in a gym he’s opened to serve a troubled Sheffield community.
Ali made it clear he loves his brother. But he questions some of his decisions and attitude and said there were elements of his character he wouldn’t like to see manifested in the youngsters he works with at the Burngreave Chapel he’s transformed from a derelict building.
The younger brother also said he got on with Brendan Ingle, the trainer who has refused to re-build a fractured relationship with Naz. But Ali claims that he, himself, could as a young amateur have gone on to have a fine professional boxing career if the veteran coach had spent more time with him and others.
Speaking exclusively to The Star at his gym in Melrose Road, Ali said he’d wanted to coach and help underprivileged kids for a long time.
“I always wanted to do it with Naz, to be honest. I always wanted to get Naz involved but he has no interest.
“We have always dealt in property and it’s absolutely boring, not something for me. Naz has assets here, there and everywhere and we’ve looked after them. But it wasn’t for me and I wanted to get back into the boxing game This is a million times more rewarding.”
Asked if Ali’s own sporting profile would always be submerged by his millionaire brother, he replied: “It wouldn’t be very difficult to step out of Naz’s shadow. “I am starting to be acknowledged as a boxing trainer, moving towards getting a champion boxer (Muheeb Fazelin, in Commonwealth eliminator, September) and getting prospects. Naz has had no input into that.”
Did he wish Naz played more of a part? “Definitely I would yes. I don’t know what was stopping him help his brother really. I don’t know what would prevent him from wanting to (help.) He’s not a frequent visitor.”
Trainer Ali, who lives with his wife and four children in Beauchief, wouldn’t like to see some of once-cocky Naz’s ‘attitude’ displayed by his young boxing proteges. “If I could get a little bit of a boxing nasty streak, but not his personality. I just expect my lads to be very grateful for what they have got in life. But they need to be focused as Naz was. What I’d take from Naz was his dedication.
“He dedicated himself like no other human being on earth, he wouldn’t have got into the Boxing Hall of Fame. He was dedicated up to 18-19 and then when you are distracted, whether it is media distraction or publicity..that can have a massive effect and you start neglecting what made you in the ring. That ring was his cradle really.”
Ali accepts Naz is not universally loved in his home city, despite his brilliant career. “The mixed reputation, I think, is justified, because of the way he was, the way he came across.”
Was it his perceived arrogance? “Just in general. Whether it was him not knowing when to draw the line, in arrogance when you come outside the gym. Maybe that’s the case. A lot of it is justified and a lot of it is not. Maybe there is no kind of forgiveness for him, in a way. People should be able to overcome that.”
As for his own relationship with Naz, he said: “It’s alright, I don’t see him very often. Is he happy? I am not quite sure, are any of us happy? We have all got personal private issues.”
Naz enjoys all the trappings of wealth and success in his Surrey retreat now after his spectacular, showbiz-type but short career.
Ali accepts that a lot of celebrities from the sports and showbiz worlds lose large chunks of their formative years as they concentrate in moving up the professional ladder.
“A lot of them don’t know how to cope with life, sometimes. They missed so much of their life, their childhood and adolescent years...they kind of revert back when they get a bit older to being a bit child-like.
“They lose those years and life becomes a bit tougher to handle when you don’t have that maturity.”
But Ali insisted: “We are brothers. I love him to death; I absolutely adore him. I know he can’t do it (help out at the gym) for me I have to do it myself.”
Earlier this week, Brendan Ingle declined the chance to accept an apology from Naz, following the acrimonious way the pair parted company.
Ali said: “I don’t think Naz has anything to be sorry about. Naz does, but I don’t. I don’t know why a man of Brendan’s age wouldn’t accept a young man’s apology. But I think Naz’s apology is too little too late. If he was going to apologise he should have apologised back then, what’s he doing it now for?
“Let’s be brutal, I don’t think Brendan will ever forgive Naz.”
Ali said he got on with Brendan although he still wishes to this day that he could have spared more time to training him, than his illustrious relative.
“I like Brendan. The only thing I dislike in what he did was that he never focused his attention and never trained me - it was all about Naz.
“If he would have channelled his energy into me and others and not put all his eggs in one basket he would have had a lot more world champions.”
Ali is now focusing his attention on around 25 young amateurs, a group which also includes two professionals, Fazeldin and Nicolie Campbell and Donte Dixon, a bright amateur prospect for the future.