Oh, it would have been something if the Arab-American kid out of Canarsie went to the 2008 Olympics and came back to BK with gold around his neck. That would have been a hoot, and a great teaching moment, too, if a kid named "Sadam" won gold for the U.S.
But the rush to gold went off the rails in the the prelims in Beijing, and the road following the Olympics hasn't gone exactly as Sadam Ali would've wanted. That is not to say, though, that his is a tale of woe, a premature 'what might have been' story. No sir. Ali is 14-0, with 8 KOs, and continues a march to professional fulfillment on June 2, when he takes on Franklin Gonzalez (15-9) at the Aviator Complex at Floyd Bennett Field in South Brooklyn.
He's still in the mix as a prospect, albeit one who needs to bring his own spotlight with him if he wants to show off his skills to the masses. Ali, you see, has taken it on himself to promote himself, stage his own show, take the financial risk for success or failure of the card. I chatted with the 23-year-old, who's nicknamed "Worldkid," on Tuesday, at a press conference in Cobble Hill, to bang the drums for the June 2 show. I wondered if it might be too much to wear the hat of both promoter and headliner. Check out what he has to say in the accompanying video.
Anthony Catanzaro, who manages welterweight champ Paulie Malignaggi and is part of Team Ali, thinks the kid can pull it off. "You can do it if you have the right team around you," he said. "A team that all has the same goal, and that is the best interest of the fighter."
It's a fair bet that Ali, who turned pro in January 2009, could not have seen coming the new economy that's been with us since the fiscal meltdown of 2008. Promoters are less inclined to take a chance on a guy now. They'd be more keen to do so if he has a built-in fan base, a gang of rooters who can be relied upon to fill up a little arena and provide a rocking atmosphere if a TV gig arises. That's what Ali is working on.
"This is not the last of me," the two-time NY Golden Gloves champ said after his opening-round loss in Beijing. "(Boxing) is my life." No more so than when he gets the 15th phone call of the day from a person asking about tickets. But no, he tells me when I ask if it's too much, he can handle the full plate.
We shall see come June 2.