After moving from Qatar to England and a chance meeting with Naseem Hamed at his local mosque, Abdul Barry Awad embarked on another journey that has taken him to the brink of a British championship and even given him a new name.
As a kid, Abdul Barry Awad was never far from trouble. He moved from Qatar to Liverpool with his family when he was just two years old, and he found it tough to settle in the north of England. After moving to Sheffield in his teens and a chance meeting with Naseem Hamed at the local mosque, however, he showed an interest in boxing. Hamed encouraged him to pay Brendan Ingle a visit.
Ingle had previously worked with several top fighters including Herol Graham, Johnny Nelson and Junior Witter, but it was with Hamed that he really made a name for himself, taking the young upstart from the streets of Sheffield to world title glory.
After seeing Awad, Ingle could see the untapped potential, and after persuading the youngster to become a regular attendee at his gym he quickly went to work. Out of the resulting bond came a fighter with a new name: “Kid Galahad.”
So far the 23-year-old, who models himself on Hamed – throwing punches from odd angles, using lots of lateral movement as well as a flashy, brash and extremely confident demeanour – has won all 14 of his professional bouts, even collecting an alphabet title last year.
Currently the junior featherweight division is brimming with talent; two Brits, Carl Frampton and Scott Quigg, are already on the world scene. Kid Galahad will be looking to join them in the near future but first he has to get past another young unbeaten fighter in the form of Jazza Dickens, a tough Liverpudlian, for the vacant British title.
Brendan Ingle's son, John, who works with Galahad, says of this fight, “He’s looking really sharp in sparring. He realizes this is his big opportunity; it goes out live on Channel 5. He’s going to impress the TV audience and move to the next level. He’s number one for the European title so when Frampton defends against the French kid (Jeremy Parodi), if Barry wins he’ll be next in line for the European title. So it’s a must-win fight for him."
The boxing takes place at The Magna Centre in Yorkshire with a packed undercard, including rising young heavyweight Hughie Fury & Chris Eubank Jr.
Anson Wainwright - This Saturday you face Jazza Dickens for the vacant British junior featherweight title. What are your thoughts on the fight and Dickens?
Kid Galahad: Jazza Dickens is a good, tough opponent but I promise you when he gets in the ring with me he’s going to take the worst beating he’s ever took, ever, and I’ll show I’m levels above.
As a fighter I don’t think much of him. He’s a strong kid, there’s nothing much about him.
AW: On paper it looks a fascinating 50-50 fight. It's a fight where the winner would make huge strides.
KG: This is a fight that puts you out there. I’m looking to perform 120 percent when I get in the ring; you’re gonna see the best Kid Galahad out there. When Jazza comes you're gonna see the best Jazza, but I promise you my best is levels above him.
AW: In the early par of last year you made an impression winning the WBC International junior featherweight title, however in the last twelve months you've had just two 8-round non-title bouts. Why was this?
KG: I was in line for the British title. I was supposed to fight for the British title but Scott Quigg was still making noise about fighting at British level; he was supposed to fight (Carl) Frampton and I was supposed to fight the winner but obviously it didn’t go through. He vacated it and it took a while to go through to buy himself some time and he’s got himself a world title, so he vacated it and then it took another couple of months to get someone to fight.
AW: Presumably you’ve used that time to stay in shape and sharpen your tools?
KG: Yeah, I’ve spent a lot of time in the gym. Timing is the key. You pick up things and experience.
AW: If I can take you back you were born in Qatar but moved at a young age to Sheffield, England, can you tell us about your life at a young age growing up and how you became interested in boxing?
KG: When I was two years old I came over here to Liverpool with my grandparents and lived there for ten years. I lived in an area called Toxteth, which is a tough area and sometimes you have to do what you have to do. I got into trouble. I was a bad kid and grew up in a bad area. It was easy to go that way 'cause there was nothing else to do.
I moved to Sheffield when I was thirteen. I went to my local mosque 'cause I’m Muslim and met a guy called Prince Naseem and I said to him, 'Prince, I want to start boxing,' and he says, 'If you want to be a champion, you need to find this gym – it’s Brendan Ingle’s St.Thomas gym – and he’ll make you into a champion.'
Then that day I went looking for it, found the gym and met Brendan and he said, 'if you want to be a champion you need to come in here. Come here at 6 o’clock every morning.' And I came in and it went from there.
AW: You go by Kid Galahad in boxing, but your real name is Abdul Barry Awad. Brendan Ingle was the one who gave you your boxing name, could you tell us the story behind that?
KG: They used to called me Barry in the gym but there was two or three Barrys in the gym so Brendan used to call me Barry the Arab and when we turned professional he said we can't use that, people will get offended by that, so we’ll have to look for another name. I used to spend a lot of time with Brendan Ingle and (his sons) John & Dominic and we watched the film with Elvis Presley called Kid Galahad and Brendan said, 'Do you want to be called that?' I said yeah. Brendan said Elvis was the king of rock and you’re the king of the ring.
AW: People have drawn comparison's between you and Naseem Hamed – you both have similar styles. What is your take on that?
KG: That’s a good thing, unbelievable. Me, personally, I think I’m a mixture between Herol “Bomber” Graham, Junior Witter, Kell Brook I don’t think I fight like any of them in particular, just a mixture of them all.
AW: I'm sure you look at Carl Frampton & Scott Quigg, but have progressed from domestic level and are fighting on the world scene – do you look at them and think that's where you want to be in a year to 18 months' time?
KG: Yeah, I’m the youngest of them all, I’m 23 years old. I know within the next 18 months I will be there, it’s just time and patience. I’ll get into a position where they’ll have to fight me 'cause they probably don’t want to fight me.
AW: When you're not boxing, what do you enjoy doing?
KG: Me, personally, I spend time with my family and friends. Other than that I’m in the gym, that’s all I do. I breathe, sleep in that gym. It doesn’t matter if I’m fighting in ten weeks or a year I’m still in the gym training.
AW: I know you're very ambitious and that you won't be looking past Jazza, but do you have higher aspirations with due respect to the British title?
KG: I know people say the British title is a big thing but me, personally, I’m not looking past the British title or Jazza Dickens but that’s not my goal. My goal is to be a two-, three-, four-weight world champion. I don’t want to be one of these normal boxers who’s come from England, I want to be someone who will be remembered. I want to be up there with the Naseem Hameds, the Nigel Benns, Joe Calzaghe, Chris Eubanks -- those were supreme boxers and I want to be up there with them.
AW: Who is your boxing idol?
KG: My biggest idol is probably Muhammad Ali. Naseem Hamed & Muhammad Ali. Obviously Naseem Hamed 'cause he comes from the same background and he comes from Yemen. He was the one who introduced me to boxing, plus he was one of the best fighters we ever produced – him, Lennox Lewis, Nigel Benn – we’ve produced a lot of good fighters and Naseem Hamed is probably the most talented of them all, so to compare me with the best fighter we've produced, that's all good news.
AW: In closing, do you have a message for Jazza Dickens & the junior featherweight division?
KG: Like I said there’s no particular message but Jazza’s not gonna know what hit him when he gets in that ring. He’s not gonna know where he is. The junior featherweight division, they know I’m coming, it’s just a matter of time.
Photos by Scott Heavey-Gettyimages; Hennessey Sports
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