Ramla Ali: “I live the life. I am in the gym every day.”

Ramla Ali: “I live the life. I am in the gym every day.”

By Gary Kittilsen 

Its been an amazing ride for Ramla Ali. The undefeated super-bantamweight prospect who was the first Somali woman to ever compete in the Olympics in boxing has just run her record to 5-0 stopping a determined but outmatched Shelly Barnett of Toronto, Canada in two rounds on Saturday night at the Galen Center.

Ali dropped Barnett with a right in the opening round and continued the onslaught dropping her again later in the round. Like a seasoned pro Ali flurried and closed the show with a barrage of power shots as the referee mercifully ended the one-sided fight at 1:23 of the second round. It was the first stoppage victory of Ali’s young and promising career. 

On Monday the undefeated blue-chip prospect switches gears and heads to the studio for a modelling shoot. In addition to being a world-class boxer, she pursues a career as a model. When asked if it’s important to try and get in and out of the ring as quickly as possible to keep her face unmarked for modelling she laughed and said:

“Yea, I try to keep my face unmarked but they understand that I am a professional boxer. I showed up to one shoot with a massive. swollen black eye with stitches. They made my hair real big covered up the eye with make-up and did the shoot. They understand that I’m a boxer.” 

After the shoot, Ali is right back to the gym:

“I live the life. I am in the gym every day, I don’t blow up in weight. I don’t smoke, I have never drunk alcohol. I am very conscious of what I put into my body.” 

Living in Los Angeles has been a perfect fit. It allows her to pursue her boxing and modelling careers. Its been an incredible journey in Ali’s relatively young life. She was born in Somalia:

“I am not sure of my exact age. I don’t have a birth certificate all I know is I moved when I was a baby, I’ve been told I might be younger.”

Ali moved to London in her early years, and years later sort of stumbled into boxing  Ali explains:

“I started boxing at the age of 12. I stumbled into it. A lot of boxers say their father or the brothers boxed that wasn’t me. I found a gym, went in, and fell in love with it, but I didn’t get my first amateur bout until I was 18. There just wasn’t a lot of opportunity for women boxers at the time.” 

The undefeated super-bantamweight hopeful has certainly made the most of her opportunity. She now has an apartment in Los Angels and trains with famed trainer Manny Robles full-time. Her professional career has taken her around the world and to some of the most prestigious boxing venues. In her brief five-fight career, Ali made her pro debut at Wembley Arena on the undercard of Usyk-Chisora. She has also fought in the Mecca of boxing Maidson Square Garden, as well as the fight capital of the world Las Vegas and now in Los Angeles:

“I’ve been blessed to fight on some amazing undercards,” she said and added she wants to fight in “Texas, at Cowboy stadium in the near future.”

Of all her experiences she describes the Garden as the most memorable:

“It was an amazing experience. You look up and you’re fighting at Madison Square Garden and you’re just like wow I am fighting at the Garden.” 

It has been an unblemished start to her professional career.  A career she never really thought would happen:

“I never really thought of being a pro, there wasn’t a big showcase for women boxers. So I wanted to be the best amateur. When I started seeing other amazing amateurs turn pro and fight on these huge televised cards, why wouldn’t I want to? Why wouldn’t I want to turn pro and have this big showcase.” 

Despite the early success since turning pro, it has not been without its challenges:

“It’s like two different sports, smaller gloves, take off the headgear, everyone is looking to hurt you. The amateurs I could show of all my skills and score points in the pros they are looking to hurt you at all times. The pros are the hurt business, the amateurs are the point-scoring business.”

Ali is grateful and appreciative for the opportunity to fight here in the US:

“In the US, especially in Los Angeles, everyone wants to see you succeed, everyone is cheering for you, they want to see women’s boxing succeed.”

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