Kash Farooq, the world-ranked former British bantamweight champion, has retired from the ring suddenly at the age of 26.
The Scottish boxer’s retirement was announced by the St Andrew’s Sporting Club, which had been his promoter prior to Farooq signing with Matchroom in 2020, where he had his final three fights.
No reason for the retirement was given, just that it was due to “unforeseen circumstances”, although the statement thanked the British Boxing Board of Control, saying its procedures kept the “health and safety of the boxers paramount at all times”.
Farooq was born in Pakistan but moved to the UK with his family as a child as a refugee, first living in London and then settling in Glasgow. He took up boxing there in 2010 and turned professional in 2015 and winning the British title in 2018.
His only defeat came with a controversial points loss to Lee McGregor in 2019 for the British and Commonwealth titles. The pair had been due to have a rematch early this year after McGregor, now also European champion, followed Farooq in signing for Matchroom.
Farooq will now start a new role as the St Andrew’s Sporting Club’s “head of talent”.
The statement from the St Andrew’s Sporting Club said: “It will come as a shock but due to unforeseen circumstances, we regret to announce that Kash Farooq is hanging up his gloves and retiring from professional boxing.
“We are truly honoured to have been given the privilege to guide the bantamweight through his career, from professional debut in October 2015 to his final fight last August.
“Kash Farooq has always been an integral part of the St Andrew’s Sporting Club and that will continue, as we are delighted to announce that he will join our background team as our ‘Head of Talent’. He has an invaluable wealth of skill and experience he is ready to pass on to out stable. Although ‘The Untouchable Kash Farooq’ retires from being a boxer, we are excited to begin this new chapter together.
“We would also like to take this opportunity to thank the British Boxing Board of Control and their support on the matter. Their procedures offer as a safeguard protection and prevention to potential harm, with the health and safety of the boxers being paramount at all times.”
Farooq was ranked No 12 by the WBC and No 14 by the WBO. He retired with a record of 16-1, with his last win being a ten-round shutout points win over Luis Castillo at Fight Camp in August.
McGregor said on Twitter that he was “absolutely devastated” by the announcement.
“We both helped each other so much from sparring as amateurs to being involved in one of the best fights Scotland has ever seen between two Scottish fighters,” he said.
“We were on the verge of changing our lives forever ahead of what was a hugely anticipated rematch and it’s heart-breaking that we won’t get that special night that we were all looking forward to.
“My thoughts go out to Kash Farooq and his family and if there is anything I can do to help in the future, I’ll be there in a heartbeat.
“It was an honor to share the ring with you champ. I wish you nothing but the best.”
Matchroom also issued a brief statement.
“No doubt was destined for World honors,” it read. “A brilliant fighter and top man.”
Ron Lewis is a senior writer for BoxingScene. He was Boxing Correspondent for The Times, where he worked from 2001-2019 - covering four Olympic Games and numerous world title fights across the globe. He has written about boxing for a wide variety of publications worldwide since the 1980s.