There’s something about professional athletes that make us want to put them under a microscope and study their feats. Perhaps it is the fact that they chose to put their bodies on the line, when most people are comfortably ensconced in a white collar bubble. Perhaps it is their iron-clad mental will that makes you question your own resolve. Perhaps it is the abs that defy all logic, reason and physiology.
Hamzah Farouk is one such man. After a four-year boxing hiatus, he picks up his gloves – and where he left off – full-time to punch his way to a 5-0 undefeated streak. What’s the secret behind such fairy tale start? It’s a cliche, but one that does not fail even if you want it to: pure, 100% hard work.
On his part, he does everything he can. Everything else is God’s plan.
But of course, there’s more.
Welcome to the 5-Minute column, Hamzah. What made you give up the ‘safe life’ to pursue a career in professional boxing?
I was working in the financial sector for a while but it wasn’t the job that was holding me back. It was really a combination of factors such as injuries and lack of opportunities back then. All those made me fall out of love with training and competing. So I decided to call it a day.
But recently, something ignited the fire within me. I fell in love with the sport wholeheartedly again. I enjoy training and competing now more than ever. It’s just love and passion really. I feel much happier than I was when I was holding down a stable job. As the saying goes, ‘Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire’. Boxing sets my soul on fire.
You have a background in boxing. What exactly got you started in the sport? Was it easy picking it up all over again?
My Dad used to watch VCRs of his hero Muhammad Ali and I would always watch with him as a 5 or 6-year-old. The sport just captivated me and watching Ali win the title from Sonny Liston and saying how he “shook up the world” and how he was a “bad man” in the post-fight interview gave me goosebumps.
And of course, the Rocky movies! As a child who hasn’t gone through many emotions of triumph or failures, I knew that that was what I wanted to experience in my life. Boxing was the portal to such emotions. I didn’t join a gym until my Dad thought I was old enough. I boxed in the amateurs right up till 2012.
Picking up the sport again after four years of complete inactivity in 2016 wasn’t easy. But I knew what I signed up for and what I wanted. First, I stopped all my bad habits and developed a healthier lifestyle. I did a lot of physical fitness work just to get in shape. It was difficult, but I was headstrong in my pursuit and stuck to it despite the aches and soreness being twice as painful as what I’d remembered!
Congrats on your 5-0 undefeated streak. How are you planning on preserving your perfect win-loss record?
Thank you! Just pure hard work. And being smart and staying disciplined throughout. I am still considered ‘young’ in my boxing career and I still have a lot more to give to the sport. I feel healthy and happy and I know exactly what I want to achieve in this sport. I plan my work every day, every week, every month, and then work my plans to my best ability.
Step by step, I will achieve what I set out to do. Also, staying positive and mentally strong helps. If you believe in something and work towards it with the vigour of a naive child untainted by limiting beliefs, it will happen for you.
We’re sure most guys would avoid getting punched in the face if they can help it. How do you get over that fear of having a fist jammed into you?
Haha! Yes, I mean I don’t think it’s something you can ever get used to, really. Especially if you have a big nose like me!
In all seriousness, it’s difficult to get over the fear of getting a fist jammed into your face but with a lot of defensive work and experience, coupled with having balls of steel, it becomes something you don’t even think much about after a while. I just focus on not getting hit.
What’s your mindset going into each fight?
Before the first bell goes, I repeat these few things in my head:
a) Don’t get hit. Whatever you do, don’t get hit.
b) Keep calm and stay careful throughout.
c) Work the jab before any other punch.
d) Do it for your family and for everyone who has supported you.
e) Give thanks to God for whatever happens.
f) Always remember why you are here.
g) He’s got two hands and two legs. Just like you. But you’ve worked way too hard to get beaten today.
h) Defence, defence, defence. Never get hit.
What’s your diet like?
I am the worst to ask about diet! Only because I am naturally lean and I have a high metabolism rate. Like I could eat a horse and wake up the next morning still with my six-pack on.
All jokes aside, I try to stay away from unhealthy stuff such as fast food or desserts. Soft drinks too. Occasionally, I will have cheat days. This is when I have no fights scheduled. But 5 weeks out, I will totally cut all of those out from my diet and try to eat better.
I eat like anyone else, really. I still eat my carbs and a bit of fat for calories to carry me through the rigorous training sessions. Just more lean protein like chicken and more chicken. It’s a wonder how I’ve not grown any feathers yet.
Maybe the next level for me is to step up my nutrition game. If there are any nutritionists reading this right now, hit me up!
Who’s the better of your two students: Cookie Monster or Michelangelo?
Interesting one. Cookie monster did not work as hard as Michelangelo in training, and he was just plain lazy. I followed their progress on the Bang Bang Instagram page and surprisingly, Cookie Monster won the fight!
Who’s your boxing inspiration?
Oh, so many. I watch a lot of boxers past and present and try to learn from them and their stories.
I wouldn’t say one particular boxer is my main boxing inspiration. They all affected me in a positive way and I learn from their mistakes. So these days, if I feel a lack of motivation to train and box, I would go on YouTube and watch fights or training of some fighters to get inspired.
Also, I think about my family and my team from The Ring Boxing Community – how much they have sacrificed to help me in my boxing career, and how I want to make them proud.
This definitely gives me added motivation and inspiration everyday.
We preach a lot about style and handsomeness as a stepping stone to become… more. How can a guy step up his game and go from a man to The Man in his own rights?
You first have to look at yourself and ask yourself who you are as a person, and be that person unapologetically. Don’t try too hard to be someone you are not – I feel most guys tend to do that.
In terms of style, as you guys are big on, I think there’s room to dress better. It doesn’t have to be outlandish, but at least be presentable. Keep your shorts, sleeveless tees, and Havaianas for the beach. Look good for yourself and not for anyone else, as I believe if you look good, you’ll feel good, and you’ll do great.
Have ambitions. Have goals. Have a vision for yourself and go out there and be the best version of yourself. I think most guys like to live life on the safe side and stick within their comfort zones. I say step out of your comfort zone and live life to the fullest. Get out and start that fitness regime. Look for a new job if you feel like this one’s holding you back. Do something you’re passionate about. Guys here should definitely live a little bit more!
Lastly, be pure and clear in your intentions by not having any ulterior motives on your mind, and in your heart.
What’s the one quality The Man should possess?
Class. Stay classy no matter what. The good, the bad, or the ugly, always be the bigger person and handle the situation with class.
Catch Hamzah in action as he competes in his next bout at ‘The Ring Fighting Championship IV – Time Of Valor’ on 29 June 2018. Will he emerge with his undefeated streak intact and go 6-0? Get the answers at The Ring Boxing Community, or follow his Instagram at @hamzahfarouk.