Muhammad Ali starts his Olympic campaign today determined to return home with a medal dedicated to his brother.
Ali is liked a coiled spring ahead as he prepares to start his bid for a boxing flyweight medal next week.
But he’s not lost sight of how boxing fortunes can quickly change.
“My brother Danish as a decent boxer but he didn’t have any luck with head injuries so he had to give it up, there is no point risking your health,” he said.
“He had a brain haemorrhage and it was scary for the family and I didn’t box for six weeks after because I was so worried. Thankfully, he is alright now, he has a couple of seizures now and then but he is sound.
“I was an average kid at school. I would have been sweeping street s for the rest of my life, so I knew I had to do it.
“All of my mates from school were brainy kids. They are going to go far but they knew all I was interested in was boxing. I would always be in the gym training and they knew it was all I ever wanted to do.”
Sharing a name with The Greatest, his father and coach was a massive boxing fan, meant there was only ever one sport for Ali.
The 20-year old made his debut for Team GB at the Youth Olympics in Nanjing two years ago and booked his Rio slot with a silver medal at last year’s European Championships.
And he opens his campaign against the winner of today’s preliminary fight between Venezuela’s Yoel Segundo Finol and Leonel De Los Santos on Monday.
“My earliest memory is watching Amir Khan in 2004. He was 17 and won a silver medal,” he adds.
“My brother was only six and he went to the gym. My dad told me to go with him and offer him support. I was a big cricket fan at the time but I started falling out of love with cricket and it’s always been boxing since.
“Amir Khan is one of the first British Muslims to win a medal so he was a big influence for loads of us and made us think ‘we can do it too’.
“The Olympics are the biggest event of my life so I have trained like it is the biggest event of my life. I’m in the best shape I can be.
“I want to go and win that gold and I have trained as hard as I can. I fought the world champion recently and did well against him - I don’t see why I couldn’t have won the fight. With a bit of luck I could have done.”
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