Ahmed Hagag: “Boxing is My Life!”

Ahmed Hagag: “Boxing is My Life!”

For 24-year-old Ahmed Hagag, the stakes are clear at the qualifying tournament in Thailand: win three super heavyweight (+92kg) bouts to keep his Olympic dream alive. “In boxing, you never know how things will turn out. I might have a good chance, but if I have an off day, I could lose. That happens a lot in boxing. I’m giving it my all and will see what happens in the end,” Hagag says cautiously. He recently experienced how quickly a favorite can falter at the European Championships in Belgrade, where he suffered a controversial quarterfinal loss to Serbian local hero Dusan Veletic.

“Even my opponent came up to me afterward and said he didn’t deserve the win and that I should have been the victor. He went on to the finals and got knocked out. His opponent was a Spaniard I’ve fought three times. I knew exactly what to do against him. I already saw myself with the gold medal,” Hagag reflects. As fate would have it, the Austrian athlete gets a shot at redemption just weeks later. In the first round of the qualifying tournament (Wednesday, May 29), Hagag faces Veletic again. “Now I have the chance for revenge,” the Upper Austrian says excitedly. “I will give it my all to win!”

Hagag May Stay Amateur

The training camp has gone well, and Hagag feels well-prepared. He makes no secret of how much an Olympic appearance would mean to him—if not the world. “The Olympics are surely every athlete’s dream—not just boxers. I also want to win a medal or at least participate. That’s already a big deal since only the world’s best compete. For me, being in Paris would be a dream come true.” If it doesn’t happen in 2024, there could still be another chance in four years. Unlike many other boxers, Hagag doesn’t necessarily aim for the professional ranks. “The professional scene is a big goal for most boxers, but for me, it’s different due to a severe eye injury I suffered in spring 2023. I’m considering staying in the amateur ranks. It’s better for my health. Besides, the amateur world federation has developed a lot. There are more competitions and prize money.”

High-Profile Offer

Hagag wants to achieve more success before considering a professional switch. “I believe I need to accomplish something in the amateur field first. More success means my market value increases. Every European or World Championship medal boosts my price. I want to live off boxing, so the contract must be financially viable. There’s no point in being a pro if I have to work on the side to make ends meet. I’d rather stay amateur.” Hagag had a chance to go pro before, with an offer from the renowned German boxing stable Sauerland. “The contract wasn’t bad, but I declined because I wanted to focus on the Olympics first. We can talk again after that,” says Hagag, who hopes an Olympic appearance will also boost his market value.

Whether professional or amateur, one thing is sure: Hagag’s future lies in boxing. “Boxing is my life! I’ve been fortunate to win a lot in recent years, but I’ve also had to suffer. I’ve trained hard, sweated a lot, and dealt with a severe injury. But it was all worth it.” A significant part of his success comes from his father, Hassan, who is more than just a father to him. “We’re more like friends and talk openly about everything. Sometimes I even call him Hassan instead of Dad.” Whenever possible, Hassan accompanies his son, serving as his trainer, comforter, and motivator. “I feel comfortable when he’s there. He’s the only person who truly understands me. Some trainers bring you down, but he always motivates me to keep going.”