BURY ABC boxer Muhammad Ali has been picked to fight for Great Britain in the 2014 Youth Olympics.
The 17-year-old, who recently won a silver medal at the world championships, is one of only three British boys to have qualified for the event, which kicks off on August 16 in Nanjing, China.
Coach Mick Jelley, who trained Amir Khan in his early career and helped him to qualify for the 2004 Athens Olympics, where he won silver, believes Ali has the potential to repeat that success.
“If you want to put this kid’s achievements into context, I would say that over the past 50 years this country has only produced five boxers who have won world amateur medals,” he said.
“Amir Khan is one of them and young Ali is another. Amir won gold at the worlds before he went to Athens, whereas Ali came back with silver, but he also has seven national titles to his name, which I think is more than Amir had at the same age.”
Ali, who will go for gold in the 52k division, returned home last weekend from a Team GB training camp in China. Jelley believes he has the work ethic to go all the way to the top, but has quelled talk of a possible call-up to the senior Olympic squad heading off to the Rio Games in 2016.
“You don’t achieve anything in life if you are not prepared to put the work in and Ali certainly does that,” he said.
“He works very hard and has the ability and attitude to go far.
“Other than Amir, he is the only other lad from this boxing club to be picked for an Olympic squad, but I am afraid, even though I believe he is probably good enough, he won’t be going to the Rio Games.
“Team GB have already chosen a squad of 10 boxers who they will be putting forward for the qualifying tournaments, so Ali will have to wait for the next one in Tokyo, if he hasn’t turned pro before then.”