Son ignored scorned Aussie great’s boxing wish

With his father’s blessing, Hassan Hamdan is all in.

The big-hitting Hamdan, 23, son of Aussie boxing great Nader, will take to the ring against undefeated super lightweight Trent Girdham on the undercard of the Paul Gallen vs Kris Terzievski fight next Wednesday night for a chance to take his professional record to 5 -0.

Hamdan is under the guidance of his father’s former trainer, hall-of-famer Jeff Fenech, with his old man keeping a watchful but nervous eye over his son.

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But it wasn’t always that way.

“My dad’s pushed me away from it for such a long time,” Hamdan told Wide World of Sports.

“It’s more the political side of it all. He’s been messed around a couple of times, probably more than a couple.

“There’s a side of boxing people don’t see. That’s why he wanted me to steer away from it but there’s good and bad in everything and I’ve got the right team around me and now I’ve got the best promoters in Australia putting me on their shows.”

Hamdan Snr, nicknamed ‘Lionheart’, was in 2003 ranked No.2 in the world in the middleweight division, behind fight legend Oscar De La Hoya. He went 32-0 to start his career until Sam Soliman shocked him that year.

He fought for a world title against Anthony Mundine in Sydney in 2008 and also took a late call-up to face WBO super-middleweight champion Robert Stieglitz in Germany in 2012.

Having compiled an impressive record of 44-14-1 (19KO) with a courageous style, Hamdan never had the chance to fight for a world title during the peak of his career, falling victim to the threat he posed to the top fighters of his day.

Even though his father did his best to discourage his foray in the ring, Hassan was keen to see if he had what he took to make it. Against his father’s advice and without his knowledge, Hamdan Jnr started training by himself but soon found out he needed help to finetune his skills.

“I went to the gym and thought I’ll try and train by myself. Then I started sparring some boys and I was copping a bit of a bashing,” he said.

“So I thought I’m going to train and started under Michael Akkawy. I didn’t tell my dad at the time. As things got more serious and I committed myself, I told him.”

And the response?

“He said If you commit yourself longer than six months, you can fight. That was him thinking I wouldn’t be able to do it.

“But then I had my first amateur fight, my second and my third and then I went to Thailand with Jeff (Fenech) and turned pro.

“It all started off like, ‘Yeah get it out of your system,’ but it’s not leaving anytime soon.

“I was a bit nervous but I knew deep down he loved boxing and still had a passion for it, now at the fights he’s more nervous than I am.”

With a short 6-1 record in the amateurs, Hamdan turned professional and hasn’t looked back.

In his last fight against Ryan Cotten last month, he laid on some big shots and threatened to score the second knockout of his short career for several rounds, before winning via decision.

Fenech only gave Hamdan a “five out of 10” for his performance, while his dad, also urged his son to get back in the gym.

“Dad is there for the mental support and guide me through and lets Jeff do his job. This fight (with Girdham) he’s watched his guy he’s told me what to do,” Hamdam said.

“He and Jeff are on the same page it’s great having them both there. Twenty years ago Jeff was training my dad and my dad was in my position. To have them in my corner, they’re the best people I could ever ask for . I’m blessed to have them.”

Hassan’s upbringing was vastly different to his father’s, with Hamdan Snr known as a tough guy on the streets of Sydney, before reading a biography on Fenech while spending time in a boys’ home, which inspired him to become a fighter.

Hassan, who fights at super lightweight but has jumped around in weight at the start of this career, said his parents have given him every opportunity not to have to go down that road, with boxing playing his part as well.

“My dad and mum have done everything for us as kids. I could never have a bad thing to say,” he added.

“My dad had a 100 times tougher upbringing than most people. It was harder back then with two migrant parents when your parents are born here it’s a lot easier.

“The doors are open for myself. I didn’t have it tough at all but I did get caught up with the wrong crowd and doing the wrong stuff but boxing pulled me away from that.

“When I quit soccer there was a little gap where I was doing the wrong things but boxing did take me away from all that and my dad saw that too so he was happy with the way things turned out.

“He was relieved when he found out – he can say ‘I don’t want you to box’ but deep down but he really is passionate about it.”

The big-hitting Hamdan has been described as a power puncher as opposed to his father, who Fenech says is more of a boxer.

“My dad loves to use his jab he tells me to jab more. I think he’s the better boxer – If I’m half the fighter my dad was I’ll be happy.”

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