by David P. Greisman
You don’t expect to see an undefeated American prospect and former Olympian not signed to a promoter more than three years into his pro career, but that is Sadam Ali’s situation, a situation of the 23-year-old’s choosing.
Ali says he hasn’t gotten the right promotional offer yet, and rather than sitting on the sidelines, he’s putting on his own shows and putting himself in the main event. His first card is set for June 2 at the Aviator Sports Complex in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Ali, a welterweight with 14 wins and 8 knockouts, spoke with BoxingScene.com in early April.
BoxingScene.com: We haven’t seen you in a while. What’s been going on?
Ali: “Last time I fought was Sept. 11, so it’s been a long time. I’m a free agent right now, so I’m by myself, so sometimes it’s hard to get fights. I’ve been working on starting my own promotions. I got my license now, and I got my fight coming up June 2. It’s going to be in Brooklyn, New York. It’s my first time doing my own card, my own promotion, and I’m excited. I’m ready to come back.”
BoxingScene.com: Why did you decide to go into promoting yourself?
Ali: “Just to build my career and help myself, and also give opportunity to others to build their careers.”
BoxingScene.com: Why promote yourself as opposed to signing with another promoter, though?
Ali: “As of right now, I’m not in a position to sign yet. I’m not ready to sign. I’m not getting the right deals, on top of that. So I’m going to build up my record and learn from experience when I get my fights. And I’m going to eventually sign from a promoter. I’m not promoting to promote me forever or to promote other fighters long-term. It’s just for now, so eventually I will sign with a big-time promoter when the time is right. Hopefully when that happens, everything will go good.”
BoxingScene.com: You grew up in Brooklyn. What’s it going to be like promoting at home?
Ali: “It’s great. As a professional I’ve never fought in my hometown. It’s a great feeling. I’ve never fought in Brooklyn. My first time is also my first time as a main event, so I’m excited about that. Everybody can come out and watch me fight, everybody who can’t make it to my fights that I had in Jersey, and the last one I had in Poland. Now it’s in Brooklyn and they can come out in watch.”
BoxingScene.com: Tell me about the additional responsibilities, everything extra you have to do now beyond just getting ready for a fight.
Ali: “Well I got to make sure everything’s right. I got to promote. I got to make sure there are posters all over the place. I got to make sure that the media gets this. And of course I have a good matchmaker to make sure nothing happens to the card and everything goes well. There’s a lot of thing that you’ve got to do, but I have my father that’s really taking control of everything. For me, I really get to lay back, train hard and stay focused. I got my eyes on things, but my dad’s really in control of everything.”
BoxingScene.com: How much more is this adding to your life, or is it kind of hands off except for when it needs to be otherwise?
Ali: “This is what I need. I don’t want to be one of those fighters that are at home without a fight and then stuck, or even signed with a promoter and can’t fight because the prom’s giving them a fight but it’s not a fight that they want, so they have to sit back on the sidelines. Some fighters just sit for years. I don’t want that to be me. So me having this promotion is really good. It’s going to keep me busy. It’s a great thing.”
BoxingScene.com: Do you know who your opponent’s going to be yet?
Ali: “We’re still actually working on that, just working on getting opponents. It’s not easy.”
BoxingScene.com: What are you looking for, for this first fight back this year?
Ali: “I just want to perform well and keep boxing alive, of course, and have everybody entertained, and to put on a show like I know I can.”
BoxingScene.com: You mentioned keeping busy. What about increasing the level of opposition over the course of this year as well?
Ali: “Well, yeah. That’s definitely something that’s on my mind. But I’m going to do that when the time is right, when I get the right opportunity If I’m fighting on Showtime, if I’m fighting on ESPN or even on big-time HBO, then that’s when I’ll pick up the opposition. It really makes no sense to fight real good opposition in a show that I’m not really getting paid much, that the purse is not right. It’s a lot to be giving up for nothing. When the time is right, when it’s on TV, when everybody can actually see, that’s when I’m going to step up, and I’m going to show.”
BoxingScene.com: You’ve got this card in June. Assuming everything goes the way you feel it should go, when would you want to be in the ring next after that?
Ali: “After June 2, I plan on being back in the ring within maybe a month and a half, maybe two, at the most, three. I don’t plan on staying out longer than that.”
BoxingScene.com: I know you’re now self-promoting, but have you maintained ties with Main Events, whose shows you’d been on before, and could still potentially land on one of their cards?
Ali: “Yeah, we still have some kind of relationship with Main Events. I might be on one of their cards one day, but I’m not sure yet. We’ll see what happens. It’s up to them.”
BoxingScene.com: What you’re doing isn’t new, but it’s definitely not done too often. I think about B.J. Flores — he did three straight cards in Missouri rather than wait for his promoter to put him on shows. It’s definitely something other fighters are turning to.
Ali: “Yeah, and I think I’m the youngest to ever do it, too. So I’m making history in three ways, I guess first Arab-American to represent the United States in the Olympics. First coming out of New York to make it to the Olympics since Riddick Bowe. And the youngest promoter. It’s a good feeling. It’s pretty good. We’ll see how far I go. I’ll go as far as God takes me.”
BoxingScene.com: Any final thoughts?
“I want to thank everybody that’s supporting me, fans, friends, family that have been there for me. And for the people who don’t know me, you will know about me very soon. I’m bringing new things to boxing. And I’m excited for everybody to see what I’ve got.”
David P. Greisman is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Follow David on Twitter at twitter.com/fightingwords2 or on Facebook at facebook.com/fightingwordsboxing, or send questions and comments to [email protected]