Exclusive: Galal Yafai discusses Olympic bid, potential Rio rivals
Amateur star Galal Yafai could steal the spotlight from his pro title-winning brothers this summer as the Birmingham fighter bids for gold at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
The 23 year-old, who campaigns in the light flyweight division, claimed his Olympic tournament place at the European qualification event in Turkey last month – alongside eight other British men and women.
Yafai joins reigning champion Nicola Adams, Qais Ashfaq, Muhammad Ali, Joe Cordina, Josh Buatsi, Lawrence Okolie, Joe Joyce and Anthony Fowler on the plane to Brazil and cannot wait to get started.
“It feels surreal to actually be qualified for Rio. I think it’s finally starting to sink in,” Yafai exclusively told World Boxing News.
“Overall, it was an unbelievable tournament for the group of us that qualified and I’m very sure we’ll have a couple more on the plane to Rio.”
Asked about potential competition for the medal positions, Yafai added: “I see everyone as my main rival, but the Cuban boxer (Joahnys Argilagos) is very skilful and of course there’s Paddy Barnes from Ireland.
“To come home with gold though it would be unbelievable. A couple of months ago, just going to the Olympics was nearly impossible for me so winning a gold medal would be unreal.”
Talk of turning professional on the back of his summer bid has obviously followed Yafai around due to brothers Kal and Gamal’s considerable progress since they both entered the paid ranks under Eddie Hearn at Matchroom Boxing.
As all energy is directed towards Rio, Yafai won’t let that inevitable circumstance enter his head just yet, but the young contender obviously harbours ambitions of his own that he wants to fulfil in the future.
“In regard to turning pro, I haven’t really thought about that as my main focus at the moment is the Olympic games,” he pointed out.
“It feels good to see that my brothers Kal and Gamal are doing really well with their professional careers and I’m just starting to share a bit of the recognition recently in my own right – which is always a nice feeling,” added Yafai.