By Mariah Kline
Photos by Jolea Brown
Ibn Ali, professional boxer and nephew of the Greatest of All Time Muhammad Ali, has returned to his childhood home. I recently visited him at The J, where he is excited to be sharing his gift and his uncle’s wisdom.
Ali now teaches group boxing classes at The J to both children and adults, and provides one-on-one training sessions for people at any age and any level of fitness. Since Ali and The J’s staff want the entire community to benefit from these lessons, the classes are open to everyone regardless of whether or not they are members of The J. Registration is going on now and can be completed online through The J’s website.
Boxing often brings to mind a certain kind of combative intensity since the sport involves going head to head against another person. However, boxing is a great form of exercise that utilizes every part of the body. And according to Ali, the lessons the sport teaches go far beyond the ring.
“Boxing teaches discipline, respect and self-awareness,” he says. “It gives you a drive to reach deep within yourself and see how great you can really be.”
For those who have never attended a class before, Ali recommends preparing for your first class by doing some stretches and loosening up your muscles. His classes begin with stretching, arm curls, jumping jacks and other light exercises before the lesson begins. Ali says those who have never tried boxing before are in a good position because they will not have to unlearn any bad habits.
“We’re going to meet you on your level and at your pace,” he explains. “You may want to watch someone in the class who’s more experienced. Don’t do that; you’re good right where you’re at.”
As for the instructor himself, Ali is not just living off of his uncle’s name. He boxed professionally for almost eight years, and in April 2006, he won the United States Boxing Council cruiserweight title, knocking out Jeff Fox in the sixth round. When he first started in the sport, he trained for only six months before entering his first professional fight. Though he was already in good athletic condition prior to his formal training, it is nearly unheard of for a new boxer to skip amateur matches and go straight into the pros.
Doug Meyers, athletic trainer and nephew of boxer Jimmy Ellis, has been in the boxing game for over 30 years and helped train Ali before he entered the professional ring.
“He’s got a good attitude,” Meyers says. “He wanted to become a champion and he did. I just took the skills he had and fine-tuned them.”
Ali lived in Louisville for four years as a child and later spent a number of family holidays here. He returned to the Derby City from St. Louis last summer after serving as a pallbearer in his uncle’s funeral.
“This is what my uncle would want me to do,” he says about teaching. “On behalf of the Champ, I want people to reach deep within themselves and bring out that greatness that I know they have in them. I plan to keep Louisville moving with boxing and every other avenue I can.”
Not only is Ali an experienced fighter and a relative of the Greatest, he’s also extremely friendly and eager to teach anyone who’s ready to learn. If you’re curious about the benefits of boxing and how it could improve your strength and overall wellness, there’s no better time and no better instructor from whom to learn. VT
Ibn Ali Boxing Program at The J
3600 Dutchmans Lane