Now 41, the Sheffield fighter has been out of the ring for some thirteen years after capturing three world titles at featherweight and was recently inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame for his achievements as one of the greatest entertainers in the sport.
Hamed’s extravagant ring entrances are still legendary to this day. However, the devout Muslim’s legion of fans is not the only one who still wonders whether the Ingle’s Gym graduate could have gone on to achieve much more in his career in the years after his 2002 retirement.
“I do think I retired too soon. But I just felt that at that particular time in my life, after winning the fifth world title belt, why not be one of the smart ones in boxing? I remember Sugar Ray Leonard said, ‘I had my time in the sun.’ And I really did have my time in the sun,” Hamed told The Telegraph.
“The be-all and end-all of it were that I just felt I did enough in boxing to leave my stamp on the sport, and there was enough money in the bank to invest well, which I did, thank God, in the nineties. When I look back at it, I think if I’d had a year out and came back, it might not have been so bad, but it wasn’t meant to be.”
“There are no regrets. But you always think why the hell am I not fighting. I miss it a lot. But I’m happy and content.
“I’m content with what I did in my career. Many fighters were better than me, who got knocked out, got stopped, stayed in the game too long, deteriorated in the game, and got mental scars.
“That never happened to me. I never got knocked out. I don’t know the feeling. So I thank God so much that that didn’t happen to me.”
Although linked to several comebacks in the immediate aftermath of hanging up his gloves, Hamed resisted the temptation and was happy never to have been forced back by any financial instability.
“To come out at the age of 28 and know that you had one loss on points, and the only reason you suffered that loss was that we took the fight too soon in terms of losing two and a half stone in weight in eight weeks. It was virtually impossible. But I made it, and I still fought, and I still got that big cheque. As a fighter, you have to recognize that the one thing we fight for is the prize. The thing that motivates us is money. A lot of fighters do come back because of money. Well, thank God, I’m secure, and I didn’t need to come back for that reason,” he said.
A brief stint as a manager ended quickly. But ‘Naz’ has always been a fan of the sport.
He can still be seen ringside taking in the fight action as those he helped paved the way for make their own way through the pro ranks in the UK and beyond.