Meet Muhammad Ali – Britain’s first diabetic boxer looking to make more history

Muhammad Ali has already made history as Britain’s first diabetic professional boxer.

But he wants to go a step further and become the first diabetic world champion in the history of the sport.

Despite his famous name, the Rochdale-born star came from a family with no boxing background.

And when he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes aged just five, a journey to follow in the footsteps of the great heavyweight icon looked unlikely.

Yet Ali found a love for boxing, inspired by a trip to watch Ricky Hatton’s famous world title win over Kostya Tszyu at the nearby Manchester Arena.

Soon, his mother took him to the boxing gym behind his father’s back and he took to the sport like a duck to water.

After initially being denied his amateur licence due to his diabetes, he finally got the green light only to encounter the same problem when he turned pro.

He won his battle to be given a professional licence in 2018, making history in the process, and now wants to go on to the very top.

“Diabetes has been a big battle for me, in the ring and out of the ring,” he says.

“But I always saw light at the end of the tunnel.

“I’ve created history once by becoming the first diabetic professional boxer in the United Kingdom.

“All being well, I want to create history again for the second time by becoming the first professional boxer as a diabetic to become a world champion.”

Given the challenges he has faced whilst treading new ground in the sport, Ali is vocal about his experiences and hopes to inspire youngsters in the same position he was once in.

“That’s exactly what I want to do,” he says.

“I wish I could’ve spoken to somebody who had done something like myself as a diabetic.

“For example, Sir Steve Redgrave is a type one diabetic, and I’d love to speak to him about how he achieved everything he did with diabetes.

“I just want my experiences to help other people who might be in a similar position.”

Like many boxers, Ali endured a frustrating 2020 as the pandemic derailed his three planned fight dates.

But he says he has taken the opportunity to have a mental rest and come back stronger as he aims to kick-on from a 6-0 start to his career.

He added: “The pandemic has been a big struggle – I was supposed to box in March, September and December but, because of the pandemic, myself and many other boxers haven’t been able to compete.

“But I’ve had a time to sit back and reflect on my boxing career as well as diabetes – how to make myself better as a boxer and control my diabetes in a better manner.

“When the fights were coming I’d be in and out the gym, training twice a day, not having time to think about my life and what I’m doing.

“I’ve had a good 12 months to have a good think about what I’m doing, and I think it’s been a good rest mentally.”

Watch the full episode of One To Watch with Muhammad Ali as he discusses his journey so far.

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