Amateur

Galal Yafai: ‘To beat a Cuban, you’ve got to be rough’

Galal Yafai
REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha
Galal Yafai looks to qualify for his second Olympic Games. In his own words he reflects on his recent progress

THE four years [since the last Olympics] have gone by very quick. I’m looking forward to it now. Obviously I’ve got more experience now.

Up until 2015 I hadn’t been anywhere. My Olympic Games was the first major I’d ever been to. Luckily I took my chance and I did okay. It was more of an experience. Now I’ve done two World championships, the European championships, Commonwealth Games.

I’d been watching the Cuban, Yosbany Veitia, for years. He’s been around since 2012 and I remember watching him at the Olympic Games at 49kgs.

I saw him at the 2015 Worlds, saw him at Rio 2016 and then I saw him win the World championships in 2017. Then I move up to 52kgs and I get drawn against him [at the 2019 World championships]. To beat a Cuban you’ve got to be rough with them. That’s what I tried to do and it worked out.

The Cubans are alright. When they lose they take it on the chin and they’re respectful. I had a photo with him after, and I don’t really do that often. But he was one of my favourite fighters as an amateur.

It was tough to take to then lose to the Frenchman [Billal Bennama] who I was expected to win against. But he’s a good fighter.

He’s a European, these are the European qualifiers, so France will be there. I’ve learned. I’ve got to go there now, qualify now and hopefully I can get a bit of revenge on him.

We [the GB team] are all top fighters and all capable of going to the Olympics and all capable of getting medals.

At the European Games last year Rob [McCracken] asked me if I wanted to go at 49kgs. But I said there’s no point, I know the way it’s going to go I might as well go up now and built into a proper 52kgs. I got a bronze there and picked for the Worlds and did what I did there.

It’s worked out alright for me. I feel strong at it. I feel better than I did at 49kgs. My strength has come up with me. I’ve just got to carry on.

We break down the full GB Olympic team here

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