Muhammad Ali's grandson on the pressure of legacy and YouTube exhibitions 6 days ago

Muhammad Ali's grandson on the pressure of legacy and YouTube exhibitions

"Those are money fights, those are entertainment fights. I don't see a problem with that, really."

According to his grandson, Muhammad Ali probably wouldn't have an issue with Logan and Jake Paul's professional boxing pursuits if he were alive today.

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Ali passed away in June 2016 at the age of 74, but five years on his grandson Nico is just weeks away from making his pro debut.

Nico Ali Walsh, 20, is the son of retired U.S. Marine Corps Sergeant Robert Walsh and Rasheda Ali Walsh, Muhammad Ali's daughter.

Having just signed his first professional contract with Top Rank, Walsh will make his pro debut on August 14 in a fight shown live on Sky Sports in the UK.

Nico Ali Walsh, grandson of Muhammad Ali, visits with Hall of Fame Boxing Promoter Bob Arum in Las Vegas, Nevada on June 7, 2021. (Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)

Speaking to JOE, the 20-year-old said: "Signing with Bob Arum [Top Rank's founder and CEO] is ideal in every sense of the word."

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Arum promoted 27 of Muhammad Ali's fights, including the iconic 1975 Thrilla in Manila clash against Joe Frazier.

Walsh continued: "In every sense of the word, of continuing the legacy, signing with Bob Arum is doing just that.

"Looking at the history, there's no better promoter to be with."

Walsh feels the pressure of continuing his grandfather's legacy, but was adamant "it's not as much pressure as some may think".

"To me he's just my grandfather. To everyone else, he's the greatest boxer that ever lived."

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Walsh's earliest memories involve being in gyms alongside his grandfather, although he had long hung up his gloves by this point.

"My grandfather went to Celtic Boxing Club in Chicago. I believe I was 10 at the time. I got to hit the bag in front of him and that's one of my earliest memories."

It was only when Walsh started to take boxing seriously that his grandfather imparted specific advice and words of wisdom to him.

"He did a tonne of road work and thought that was very important, so ever since he said that I constantly do road work - as much as I dislike it.

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"He also told me to eat right and that moving and dancing makes a fighter."

This must have struck a chord with the young Walsh, who broke out the Ali Shuffle after winning his first amateur fight at a benefit gig for the cancer charity St. Baldrick's Foundation.

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As for the issue of YouTubers taking to the ring, Walsh said his grandfather wouldn't look at it too harshly if he were alive today - mainly because of his own exhibition history.

Many in the boxing world have derided the platform and status given to relative novices such as Logan and Jake Paul. However, Ali probably wouldn't be too critical according to his grandson.

"Logan Paul... He just fought Floyd Mayweather," said Walsh.

"Those are money fights, those are entertainment fights. I don't know what my grandfather would say exactly, but he did some exhibitions."

Exhibition fights are nothing new to the world of boxing, with Ali very much a pioneer in this regard.

Walsh recalled how his grandfather fought several non-boxers, including a retired NFL player.

"These were exhibition fights. He did it for entertainment, the biggest purpose of these fights. I'm sure there are some people that look at Logan Paul and think, 'You know what, I wanna box now.'"

Ali also fought Japanese wrestler Antonio Inoki in a mixed martial arts clash that almost cost him his leg due to an infection.

However, Walsh believes these sorts of bouts have their place in the fight calendar.

"It [YouTubers boxing] is not the craziest thing we've seen. I don't think Logan Paul is getting in the way of boxing as much as people think.

"It's just entertainment - I don't see a problem with that, really."