British tabloid The Daily Star broke a story on Tuesday regarding Kid Galahad – real name Abdul-Bari Awad – who, depressingly, failed a performance enhancing drug test in September after outclassing Brazilian Adeilson Dos Santos. Galahad, 18-0 (9 KOs), a former British, Commonwealth and European champion, tested positive for banned substance stanozolol — an anabolic steroid more commonly known as Winstrol (stanozolol is commonly used by body builders to cut weight while retaining lean muscle).
Galahad, who admitted his burgeoning career would be ruined by the two-year ban that U.K. Anti-Doping has meted out, seemed on the verge of huge domestic clashes with Ulsterman Carl Frampton and Bury’s Scott Quigg. Despite his impending appeal — which hinges on an alibi involving his brother Mageed, who allegedly spiked Galahad’s protein drink after the pair fell out — it would appear that those fights have now gone up in smoke along with any hope of a three-way domestic shoot out, one that recalled the celebrated middleweight feud involving Michael Watson, Nigel Benn and Chris Eubank that played out between ’89 and ’93.
Revisiting the transcript of an interview carried out with Galahad in November for Boxing Monthly, it is now clear that Galahad was already primed for what lay ahead. Questions surrounding his enhanced conditioning programme were answered sluggishly, while he was almost fatalistic in discussing his legacy. Perhaps tellingly, Galahad appeared resigned to the fact that the Frampton and Quigg fights would never materialise.
Boxing, of course, is full of fighters who’ve failed drug tests: Americans Antonio Tarver, Lamont Peterson, Brandon Rios and J’Leon Love have all served short bans and returned to the fray; a ban needn’t necessarily signify the end of a fighter’s career – especially in today’s murky habitat. Shane Mosley, for example, the former multi-weight titlist who tangled with the likes of Oscar De la Hoya, Miguel Cotto and Floyd Mayweather, continues to be heralded as a great fighter despite his own admission of steroid use while testifying in the 2002 BALCO scandal. Legendary fighters such as James Toney, Roy Jones and Erik Morales have all fallen foul of testers yet have not been shunned by the sport. Contrast that with someone like Marion Jones, the U.S. track star who, after being found guilty in the same federal investigation that exposed Mosley, was ostracised by her sport, wiped from the record books and forced to hand back her five Olympic gold medals.
Galahad, 25, has time on his side. Presumably he’ll still be permitted to train at the gym he grew up in – the famed Wincobank hot house in Sheffield – alongside current welterweight world titlist Kell Brook. He could of course return earlier: The World Anti-Doping Agency’s rulebook allows for a 75 percent reduction in a ban if the convicted drug user provides evidence that in turn helps convict others cheats. British heavyweight Larry Olubamiwo served only one year of a four year ban after he befriended Scottish super middleweight Craig Windsor on Facebook and then informed on the hapless Windsor’s own drug transgressions.
Ultimately, British boxing has lost one of its most promising fighters and more interesting characters. The little rip that grew up under sanctions — banned from schools and public transport in his native Sheffield — is now locked out of the sport that had, for a long time, offered him redemption.