Born in Brooklyn, New York, to Yemeni immigrant parents, Sadam Ali was inspired to box by Yemeni-British boxer Prince Naseem Hamed. Ali began at the Bed-Stuy Boxing Club in Bedford-Stuyvesant at age eight, later moving to the Havoc Boxing Club.
Ali began his professional career as a welterweight with nine consecutive wins. Ali was a Junior Olympic National Champion, a PAL National Champion, a U-19 National Champion, and a two-time New York City Golden Gloves Champion.
In 2006, Ali won the National Golden Gloves Championship in the featherweight division at age 17. Ali then represented the United States at the 2006 World Junior Championships, where he won a bronze medal--losing in the semifinal round to eventual gold medalist Yordan Frometa of Cuba by a score of 41-39, a bout in which two points were deducted from Ali because "he was weaving too low."
In 2007, Ali again won the National Golden Gloves Championship, this time in his new lightweight division. Later that year, he was upset by Jerry Belemontes of Corpus Christi, Texas, 13-12, in the quarter-final round of the United States Boxing Championships. However in August 2007, Ali defeated Belemontes in a rematch and finished in first place in the lightweight division at the United States Olympic Trials in Houston, Texas, becoming the first boxer from the five boroughs of New York City to win at the trials since world Heavyweight Champion Riddick Bowe in 1988. While this did not immediately qualify Ali to represent the United States in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China, he became the sole American lightweight permitted to compete in all three Olympic qualification tournaments held in the eight months following for one of the six berths allocated to lightweights from the Americas.
The first of the three Olympic qualification tournaments was the World Amateur Boxing Championship, which was held in Chicago. Illinois, in the fall of 2007. Ali was eliminated in a competitive second round match by Armenia's Hrachik Javakhyan. As only one lightweight from the Americas qualified in Chicago, five Olympic lightweight berths still remained open.
Alleged Doping Controversy
Three weeks after the Chicago tournament, Ali participated in a 'USA vs. China and Kazakhstan' exhibition event held in Zunyi, China. Ali's doping test at the exhibition returned positive for Cathine, a stimulant commonly found in prescription cold medicines. The Olympic Committee bars cathine in concentrations of over 5 micrograms per milliliter in urine. The infraction carried a potential two-year suspension from amateur competition, which would have disqualified him from the 2008 Olympics.
While Ali accepted a voluntary indefinite suspension on November 22, 2007, he maintained his innocence and appealed to the International Boxing Association ('AIBA"') to overturn the test results, claiming that he had taken the cathine inadvertently after contracting a cold in China. In February 2008, Ali agreed to drop his challenges in exchange for a three-month ban retroactive to the date on which he had originally accepted his voluntary suspension. His ban will therefore expire on February 22, 2008, allowing him to participate in the two remaining Olympic qualification tournaments to be held later in the spring.
Ali earned his Olympic Games qualification spot in the AIBA First Americas Olympic Qualifying Tournament held in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, in March 2008. He beat a Venezuelan 11-6, and then stopped an Argentinean to make the Olympic Team. (According to the May 20, 2011 ESPN Friday Night Fights program, Ali was the first Arab-American to represent the United States in an Olympics.) Ali turned professional after the 2008 Olympics. "My plan is as soon as I get done with the Olympics, I'll turn pro, and my father will move me the right way," Ali said. "Because I already know he knows what to do and all that. So, I'm going to leave that all on him."
- Lost to Georgian Popescu (Romania) 5-20
- This article borrows from Ali's entry in Wikipedia.