Unbeaten super welterweight prospect Hamzah Sheeraz returns to action this weekend at Wembley Arena, with the Berkshire born prodigy looking to add to his unblemished start to life as a professional.
For Sheeraz, who has been earmarked as one of Frank Warren’s brightest young talents, boxing is something of a family tradition. His uncle, Humeran, was a successful amateur who won multiple national titles for the Slough and Pinewood Star clubs, inspiring an eight-year-old Hamzah to pick up the sport at the age of eight; joining the Debden amateur gym intent on one day making his own mark in the sport.
“My Grandad was a boxer but my Uncle he took boxing the most serious.” said Sheeraz, in an exclusive interview with Boxing Social.
“He was an eight-time National Champion or something like that – he was a very successful amateur boxer. He boxed for England and won lots of national titles and that’s what really inspired me to get into boxing.
“I started boxing at the age of eight and my first fight was at the age of ten. I had around 100 amateur bouts and lost around 13 or 14. I boxed for England and won a couple of national titles as well.”
With a successful amateur career coming to a close, the three-time national junior finalist began a short-lived electrical apprenticeship – before a meeting with now ex-trainer Lenny Butcher at the Five Star gym in Romford led him to pursue a career in the professional ranks.
“I used to train at Five Star with my amateur coach, and Lenny my first pro coach was there.” Sheeraz continued.
“He basically gave me the opportunity. I was training one day, and he said ‘listen I think you should turn professional’ – so I turned pro with him! I think I got to 5 or 6-0 with Lenny then I switched over coaches and now I’m 7-0.”
Sheeraz would then receive the ultimate birthday present in the form of professional contract when he signed with ‘gambling man’ Frank Warren. Now undefeated in seven under the ‘Hall of Fame’ promoter, Sheeraz confesses to being more than a little surprised at the opportunity at the time.
“It was kind of a gamble for Frank, to be honest with you!” laughed Sheeraz.
“I’m managed by Andy Ayling, who came down the gym to watch me and he signed me up with Frank.
“He [Warren] had never heard of me or seen me, because I wasn’t that big in the amateurs – but after I had my pro debut it all paid off!”
Born in Slough, Berkshire, any spectator can attest to the legions of support the precocious Sheeraz brings to his fights. With a strong backing from both his friends and family, along with members of the local Muslim community, Sheeraz is aware of the influence his loyal followers have had on his relatively short professional career.
Boxing is a sport that requires interest and, more importantly, ticket sales – and it is the feverish support of his fanbase that have contributed to his successful start to life in the paid ranks. It is something that is not lost on the 19-year-old.
“My family are my biggest supporters.
“It’s very important to me. They are the ones that make it happen!
“Although I do all of the training, they are the ones who buy the tickets and take time out of their busy schedules to watch me – so it’s much appreciated and I want to thank them all for their support.”
Though Sheeraz’s career has been relatively smooth sailing so far, he points to life as a ‘float’ as the most difficult part. It is an experience that many fighters go through in the early stages of their career.
“In my second fight, I got there at 4pm.” Sheeraz recalls.
“I remember wrapping my hands up until 11pm – and I was just warming up and then warming down.”
“It’s heart-breaking when you find out you’re not going to box. But there is nothing much you can do about it. So staying heartbroken wouldn’t have done me any favours. So I got back up and carried on doing what I had to do!”
Standing at 6ft 2″, Sheeraz towers over many in the super welterweight division. With it seemingly impossible for someone of his stature to even make eleven stone, he would go on to reveal it would not be long before he is knocking on the door of the middleweight division.
“Realistically I reckon a year or so then I will definitely move up.”
“It’s not getting any easier making weight each time. I don’t find it difficult – but each time it just gets that little bit harder.” he admitted.
One key aspiration of the 19-year-old is to remain undefeated; with Sheeraz believing keeping his ‘0’ is crucial to his image in this day and age as a young professional fighter.
“It’s very important.”
“At this stage of my career, especially being young, I think having that ‘0’ gives my career a nice ring!
“It makes it much more exciting for people to watch and think ‘Oh, he’s undefeated, he’s only 19 years old!’ – so my unbeaten record is very important to me.”
As he prepares for his bout tomorrow night against Ladislav Nemeth at Wembley Arena, the quiet, humble Sheeraz spoke gleefully of his return to the ring – and vowed to put on another performance for his travelling fans.
“I can’t wait to box in-front of them again.”
“I have just boxed at the Royal Albert Hall which was a fantastic venue – and now it’s another big show at Wembley Arena on the undercard of Daniel Dubois, so I can’t wait to get in there and do my thing!”
“Plus, I have a lot of support from the Wembley area so hopefully it will be a great night – and I just want to thank them all for their support!”
Article by: Emmily Simcock
Follow Emmily on Twitter at: @emmily_jane