MUHAMMAD Ali insists he can hold his head up high despite the Keighley boxer seeing gold slip through his grasp at the Youth Olympic Games.
Despite arriving in China on Tuesday, August 12, Ali had to wait 11 days to get his assault on the second summer Youth Olympic Games underway.
And the long wait clearly gave him itchy feet as the 18-year-old breezed through his 52kg preliminary bout against Masud Yusifzada on Saturday.
That set up a mouth-watering semi-final with American Shakur Stevenson 24 hours later, the fighter who beat Ali for AIBA Youth World Championships gold back in April.
But try as he might, Ali couldn’t enact his revenge, losing by a unanimous decision, even if he felt he pushed his victor all the way.
“I’m gutted. I tried my best,” said Ali. “He is a good boxer, he has won two world junior championship titles back to back and won boxer of the tournament this year as well.
“I think I pushed him all the way to the end. Every other fight I’ve seen him box he gets through it quite easily, so I definitely pushed him.
“In my first fight I didn’t box great but I knew I could up it because I had a cut above my left eye that I got in sparring and I hadn’t done any proper sparring in ages.
“So the first round was all about just getting through but I am just disappointed that I couldn’t win my semi-final.”
All is not lost for Ali however as he goes again tomorrow in the bronze medal match.
He faces off against Indian Gaurev Solanki and the Bury Amateur boxing club star is determined not to head home empty handed.
“I’ve got the Indian boxer next in the bronze medal match, I need to win that and I am determined to win it,” Ali added.
“I want to win that bronze medal. I’ve not fought him before so I am going to watch some videos of him with the coaches and I am determined to get that medal.”
*The British Olympic Association prepares and leads British athletes at the summer, winter and youth Olympic Games. It works in partnership with sport national governing bodies to enhance Olympic success and is responsible for championing the Olympic values. Visit www.teamgb.com.