British flyweight Muhammad Ali wants to make a name for himself in Baku

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Baku, June 13, AZERTAC

The novelty of bearing the same name as the world's most famous boxer has long since worn off for British flyweight Muhammad Ali and he is now just keen to make a name for himself.

"I'm a Muslim and loads of Muslims have that name. I just happen to be a boxer, too," Ali said. "At first it was a bit of a nuisance (the comparisons), I couldn't handle it. Now I just laugh it off."

Ali is anxious to justify the faith shown in him by the British selectors, who chose the 19-year-old from Keighley, West Yorkshire to replace the injured Welshman, Andrew Selby, at the Baku 2015 European Games.

The Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games bronze medallist - who will be competing in his first senior international event - is not here just to make up the numbers, however.

"I'm here to win a medal, I want to get to those world championships (the 2015 AIBA World Boxing Championships in Doha, Qatar in October 2015)," he said. "I know I'm good enough.

"I got a full set of medals last year at all the youth championships (Olympic bronze, world silver and European gold) so I did well. I just hope I can continue that form in the seniors.

"You know you can't make silly mistakes at this level. You've got to be sharp all the time, never switch off, give 100 per cent. If you don't you're going to get knocked out most likely.

"The only kid I know here at my weight is a Bulgarian who I beat in the European youth finals - everyone else I've never heard of."

Another household name - Amir Khan (GBR) - might be more pertinent when discussing Ali's prospects.

Ali trains at the same gym, under the guidance of the same trainer, Mick Jelley (GBR), as the British light-welterweight and world title contender did. In fact, Khan was the man who inspired him to take up the sport.

"I was watching Khan at the Olympics in Athens 2004 and I thought, '17 years old and he's winning a silver medal. It's crazy that, he's doing something with his life instead of standing around on street corners just wasting his life'. I thought I want to do the same.

"I've just got to gain as much experience as I can because internationally there are good kids - many of them are better than pros. I'll probably stay on the for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and then when I feel ready I'll turn pro."

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