“Prince” Naseem Hamed – Hall of Fame Worthy?

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By: Steve Gallegos

This past weekend in London, over 18,000 fans packed the ExCel Arena to watch Tyson Fury take on Dereck Chisora. One of those fans on hand to watch the event was former featherweight kingpin “PrinceNaseem Hamed. In between rounds of one of the bouts, we caught an glimpse of Hamed via the TV cameras. “Naz” looked to be a shell of his former self as he has put on a significant amount of weight over the years; however he still sported that same smile he had when he ruled the 126 lb division for the latter half of the 1990’s.

Every couple of years the discussion arises about whether Hamed should be inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, NY. “Naz” left behind a legacy of dominance and showmanship and many believe it was a legacy uncompleted. Many fans remember Hamed for his arrogance and felt he was a fraud instead of a legitimate champion. We are going to focus why “Naz” is Hall of Fame worthy and as well as giving this man some shine that he deserves.

Hamed set the standard for flashy ring entrances as his entrances were a mix of smoke, lights, music and dancing. He always had a new trick up his sleeve, whether it was being brought out on a magic carpet or coming into the ring in a Chevy Impala Convertible. His entrances were lengthy and most times it would frustrate his opponent, allowing “Naz” to get inside of their head. Almost each and every ring entrance was topped off by a front sommersault over the top rope into the ring. He was also great at hyping up a fight and he knew how to get inside of his opponent’s head by belittling them during press conferences and telling them that he was going to knock them out, most of the time making good on his promises.

Inside the ring, he was a master showman. He was a very unorthodox southpaw who held his hands low and threw punches from the most akward angles. He had tremendous power in either hand as he scored sensational knockouts. Hamed was never in a bad fight and even though he tasted the canvas on many occasions, he would always rise to his feet and knock his opponent out. (Ie; his sensational knockout win over Kevin Kelley in which both fighters scored three knockdowns each.) He was a major draw no matter where he fought and he would pack huge arenas in the UK as well as the U.S.

He also helped put the featherweight division on the map in the 90’s and would win three world titles en-route to earning million dollar paydays, which were unheard of for a featherweight. He won and defended his WBO featherweight title 16 times and was one of the sport’s first “Super” champions. Many believe he didn’t fight anybody good, however his resume of opponents is not bad. He beat top notch world champions such as Manuel Medina, Tom Johnson, Kevin Kelley, Wilfredo Vazquez, Wayne McCullough, Paul Ingle, Cesar Soto and Vuyani Bungu.

His record as a professional was 36-1 with 31 KO’s and his only loss came against the legendary Marco Antonio Barrera. So the question remains. Is “PrinceNaseem Hamed Hall of Fame worthy? Based on his accomplishments and the legacy he created, the answer is “Yes”. Love him or hate him, you have to respect what he has accomplished and the good he did for the sport of boxing. There wasn’t another fighter like him and he is a fighter that many of us wish was still around.

Forgotten Legends: Paul Ingle

By: Steve Gallegos

The British boxing scene is amongst the most exciting scenes for boxing in the world. The fans pack arenas and cheer for their fighter in soccer style, commentators are the funnest to listen to and the ring entrances are a dazzling display of smoke and lights. Some very colorful and exciting fighters have come out of the british Boxing scene. Fighters like Lennox Lewis, Herbie Hide, “Prince” Naseem Hamed, and Ricky Hatton. There was another colorful, exciting fighter who was at the top of his game, only to have it all taken away from him in one night. That fighter was former featherweight champion PaulThe Yorkshire HunterIngle.

Ingle was a hard-nose, come forward fighter who brought excitement anytime he was in the ring.  Ingle who hailed from Scarborough, North Yorkshire England began boxing at age nine and had a very good amateur career in which he represented Great Britain in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Spain. He turned pro in March of 1994, scoring a third round knockout in his pro debut. He would go 21-0 with 11 KO’s from 1994-1998 while claiming the British, Commonwealth and European featherweight titles.

He had an unorthodox style of living  while preparing for his fights. He would go camping out on the moors in which he would live off of the land and jump into the icy could cold waters. He would get his first crack at a world title in 1999 when he met the kingpin of the featherweight division, “Prince” Naseem Hamed. They met on 04/10/99 in front of a huge, electric crowd at the Manchester Evening News arena in Manchester, England. Hamed, who was used to knocking out his opponents in rather easy fashion, found Ingle to be one tough cookie.

Hamed would put Igle down in the first round with a straight left hand and Ingle was immediately up. He continued pressing forward, holding his own with “Naz” while fighting at a very fast, aggressive pace. In the sixth round, Hamed would put Ingle down again with a hard left hand to the body. Most fighters would not have recovered from that shot; however Ingle did as he once again rose to his feet. Hamed was starting to get frustrated and winded, most likely wondering what was keeping Ingle up. The ninth and tenth rounds were Ingle’s best as finally got to “Naz”, landing hard shots while busting up Hamed’s face. Going into the championship rounds, the momentum belonged to Ingle; however in the 11th, Hamed would land a huge straight left hand that put Ingle down again. He was able to get to his feet; however referee Joe Cortez wisely stopped the bout and Hamed was relieved that the fight was finally over.

After giving “Prince” Naseem Hamed the toughest test of his career, Ingle was back in line for another title shot seven months later when he faced IBF featherweight champion Manuel Medina. They met on 11/13/99 in Ingle’s backyard of Cottingham, Hull, Yorkshire in the United Kingdom. Ingle performed spectacularly throughout the bout as he put Medina down twice in the second round and again in the 10th. Medina was able to put Ingle down in the 12th round; however Ingle was able to get up and survive the round. The final result was a 12 round unanimous decision for Ingle. He was now a world champion.

He would make the first defense of his featherweight championship five months later as he faced former two-time champion Junior Jones. The met on 04/29/00 at the Legendary “Mecca” of boxing, Madison Square Garden. It was the co-feature for Lennox Lewis’ Heavyweight title defense against Michael Grant. It was a good exciting fight for the most part. Jones, a masterful boxer, was vunerable when getting into a fire fight and Ingle was slowly luring Jones into fighting his fight. One aspect of Ingle’s game that was underrated was his head movement, which caused Jones to miss a lot of shots early on, providing Ingle with many opportunties for left hand counters.

In the ninth round, Jones landed a hard right hand that put Ingle down. Ingle once again showed his championship heart by getting up and weathering a huge rally by Jones while regaining the momentum towards the end of the round. Ingle was confident he could wear Jones down and stop him and his game plan was spot on. Towards the end of the tenth round, Ingle rocked Jones badly and was a punch or two away from putting Jones down. Ingle, as he did against Hamed, had the momentum in his favor going into the championship rounds.

In the 11th, Ingle picked up right where he left off in the 10th and rocked Jones, sending him reeling against the ropes, causing referee Steve Smoger to give Jones a count as only the ropes held him up. Ingle continued the onslaught, causing Smoger to step in moments later to stop the fight. It was the biggest win of Paul Ingle’s career and on the biggest stage; however his career was about to come to a screeching hault.

Ingle defended his title eight months later against South African Mbulelo Botile in Sheffield, England. Ingle was dropped in the 11th and again in the 12th, causing the fight to be stopped. Ingle did not get up off the canvas and had to be taken out on a stretcher. He was taken to the hospital in which surgery had to be performed to remove a blood clot from his brain. It was the end of Paul Ingle’s boxing career and he retired with a record of 23-2 with 12 KO’s. It was another of many great careers that were ended too soon.

Ingle has recovered well from his injury; however there are long lasting effects stemming from his brain injury. He isn’t able to work or drive and he receives disability benefits. Today, Ingle battles depression as he copes with life without boxing. In a 2013 interview with Hull Daily Mail, he states “I still miss boxing 110 percent. I can’t even begin to say how much I miss it”. A boxing charity has been setup called Blue Glove Foundation which held a dinner in May of 2013 in which all the proceeds went to Ingle. A new boxing gym called the “Paul Ingle Boxing Academy” was also setup in his honor in his hometown of Hull in the the UK. It’s very sad how Paul Ingle’s promising career was ended. We definitely wish him the best and hope that he can conquer his depression and return to championship status, not in the ring; however in life.

Paul Ingle