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Galal Yafai’s journey from Birmingham factory worker to Commonwealth gold medalist

Light flyweight Commonwealth champion Galal Yafai opens up to Bad Left Hook’s James Copley about his remarkable rise.

Around the Games - Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Day 11 Photo by Getty Images/Getty Images for npower

When Galal Yafai’s fist was raised as light-flyweight Commonwealth amateur champion on the sunny shores of Australia’s Gold Coast, an astounding two-year transformation from factory labourer to one of British boxing’s most exciting young prospects was complete… courtesy of some tough brotherly love.

The 2016 Rio Olympian comes from successful fighting stock, with both older siblings competing in the professional fight game.

Eldest brother Khalid Yafai holds the WBA world super-flyweight championship and middle brother Gamal Yafai competes in a stacked super-bantamweight division.

But for 25-year-old Galal, the path his older brothers paved helped keep him grounded, out of trouble and away from the gritty Birmingham streets.

“My brothers started boxing early, so they didn’t have a chance to get involved in any trouble or wander down a bad path,” he told Bad Left Hook. “They weren’t the best boys in school but they excelled in other areas. Boxing has helped keep us all grounded.

“I couldn’t go down a bad path when my brothers were doing so well. I had Gamal and Khalid to look up to. It helped me choose a better way of life.”

But then comes a further hint of the road Galal has tavelled; a story of transformation, underlining the impressiveness of his achievements.

“I started boxing late. I was going into work at a young age.”

Before being picked for Team GB in 2016, Galal worked for three years, first in Land Rover’s Solihull factory, and then for logistics company DHL – an invaluable experience in the development of the man, as well as the fighter.

“Working a normal job is what has made me so successful in boxing,” Galal said. “Knowing what I did before and thinking to myself: ‘I can’t go back to that life.’

“It makes me work that little bit harder and keeps me grounded. Even when I went to the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, I was still in work.”

And what of his old industry pals still slogging away? “I still speak to most of them! I was one of the boys in work, messing around and joking with the lads.”

“It makes me proud when they watch me on television because I was one of them.

“My old general manager at DHL actually rang me recently. He called me to say well done. It’s great having that support.”

It’s also proof that the youngest Yafai is still delivering.

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