BOXER Nader Hamdan plans to become ”Australia’s Vinnie Jones” after starting his acting career with a villainous role in SBS’s award-winning drama East West 101.
Hamdan plans to pursue acting full-time when he retires from the sport, most likely next year, and believes his controversial career will boost his chances of landing ”bad guy” roles. Ever the agitator, Hamdan has infuriated authorities and fans with foul-mouthed tirades and trash talk in recent years. His popularity sank after his appearance in the reality show The Contender, where he continually challenged and berated fellow contestants, but he says it has been a deliberate ploy.
After spending months on set with noted actors Don Hany and Susie Porter, Hamdan hopes his role as a Lebanese gangster in East West 101 – which won this year’s Logie award for Most Outstanding Drama Series, Miniseries or Telemovie – will catapult him into other similar roles, including the next season of Underbelly.
”I have the head for it, and it’s much better playing the bad guy, you can have a lot more fun,” said Hamdan, who has previously played the role of an armed robber in Australia’s Most Wanted. ”I want to be Australia’s Vinnie Jones, he was a hard nut as a [English football] player and he took that into his acting. You’ll never see him playing a soft role and that’s how I see myself.”
Hamdan had intended to become a full-time actor in his teens, but his love of boxing led him to a cross-roads. ”After I had been locked up in juvenile detention [aged 17 for taking a policeman’s pistol during a brawl] I was really unsure of whether I wanted to box or become an actor,” he said. ”I was doing both, I got bit-parts here and there, but I would hardly ever show up to auditions because I had to train. My agent said I had to make a clear choice, and I decided that I could always be an actor later, but if I wanted to win a world title shot my body would only give me a certain window.”
Hamdan, 36, spent two years as the No.1 challenger to Oscar De La Hoya, who had no interest in fighting the tough Marrickville brawler because there was much more money to be made fighting fellow Americans. Hamdan finally got his chance to fight for a world title against Anthony Mundine two years ago and lost on points over 12 rounds.
His final charge at a title starts tonight on the Gold Coast when he fights Les Sherrington for the PABA super-middleweight title in the main event of a card that features league players Scott Prince and Bodene Thompson, basketball great Shane Heal and AFL identity Peter Everitt.
As for his growing reputation as a trouble-maker, Hamdan replied: ”I was myself for 10 years, just basically being a good guy always trying to get my shot, and look what happened for me – nothing.
”You look at Anthony Mundine and Floyd Mayweather, they talk it up, they get people to hate them, but they are the most successful promoters because people pay in the hope of seeing them get knocked out.”