Athletic phenoms have it hard enough trying to live up to the hype and expectations they generate with their own skills. It becomes another kind of pressure entirely when they have to live up to the legacy of a famous name or family member.
The Muhammad Ali in this story is not actually related to the Muhammad Ali, but the 17-year-old amateur boxing star from Great Britain will no doubt draw extra sets of eyes to his progress in the ring since he shares a name with the most legendary figure in the sport.
Ali the teenager will fight in next month’s World Youth Championships in Bulgaria after winning the 52-kilogram (super-flyweight or junior-bantamweight depending on the sanctioning body) division title at the Three Nations qualifier in Scotland.
“I don’t say this about most lads but within another three years I think he will go pro,” Ali’s coach Mike Jelley told the Telegraph & Argus. “I don’t blame Ali if he does because I think he is good enough. He will be ready then.”
Jelley was former lightweight/welterweight world champion Amir Khan’s first coach.
At press time, the younger Ali boasts a 61-9 amateur record. He competed in last year’s World Youth Championships, losing in the first round to a Russian fighter who went on to win a gold medal.
The older Muhammad Ali’s amateur record has never truly been confirmed, but he is believed to have somewhere between 100 and 140 wins and only five to eight losses. Ali, previously known as Cassius Clay, won an Olympic gold medal and two AAU national championships at light-heavyweight amateur.