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Olympics-Boxing-Brit Yafai goes from factory floor to Olympic final

·2-min read
Boxing - Men's Flyweight - Semifinal

TOKYO, Japan (Reuters) - In 2015 British boxer Galal Yafai was working on the factory floor for a car manufacturer and dreaming of being an Olympic champion - on Sunday that dream could come true when he faces Carlo Paalam of the Philippines in the Olympic flyweight final.

Having lost in the last 16 at the Rio Games, the 28-year-old Brit came back and out-pointed Kazakhstan's Saken Bibossinov to book his spot in the gold-medal bout in Tokyo, a step closer to fulfilling the dreams he had back in 2015.

"I was working in the Land Rover factory in Solihull, Birmingham. I was working there, grafting, picking up boxes, dreaming of being at the Olympic Games," he told reporters.

"I got to Rio a year later, didn't work out for me, I waited five years, an extra year and it's paying off for me now."

Yafai admitted that the work he did back then was not the most glamorous.

"I was doing the rubbish, picking up boxes, delivering parts, just the skivvy jobs really, but now I'm on the verge of being Olympic champion, so I thank God," he said, beaming.

To do so he will have to beat Paalam, who looked a tough customer in his win over Japan's Ryomei Tanaka.

"I've never fought him before. I've sparred him, but he surprised me, to be fair. No-one expected me and him to be in the final," Yafai said.

Though a lot of hard work has gone into his Olympic preparations, the British-born boxer with Yemeni roots said it beats what he used to do for a living hands down.

"I hated working. I'm not going to lie, I hated it. I wanted to be a boxer for years. I hate getting told what to do so now I'm my own boss and hopefully I can be Olympic champion," he said.

(Reporting by Philip O'Connor; Editing by Michael Perry)

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