Former superstar of boxing Prince Naseem Hamed revealed that he has no regrets about retiring from the sport at the tender age of 28, although does admit that he sometimes thinks what might have been.
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, although the devout Muslim’s legion of fans are not the only ones who still wonder whether the Ingle’s Gym graduate could have go 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 saying ‘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 was 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’s 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. There are a lot of fighters who were better than me that got knocked out, got stopped and stayed in the game too long and deteriorated in the game and got mental scars. That never happened to me. I never got knocked out. I don’t know the feeling. 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 to never 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 because the fight was taken 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. And, as a fighter, you have to recognise 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 and 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.