Ramla Ali set to make women’s boxing history in Jeddah

Ramla Ali set to make women’s boxing history in Jeddah
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Ramla Ali was born in Somalia in 1989 but fled the war-torn Horn of Africa country with her family at the age of 12 to seek asylum in the UK. (Supplied)
Ramla Ali set to make women’s boxing history in Jeddah
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Ramla Ali was born in Somalia in 1989 but fled the war-torn Horn of Africa country with her family at the age of 12 to seek asylum in the UK. (Supplied)
Ramla Ali set to make women’s boxing history in Jeddah
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Ramla Ali was born in Somalia in 1989 but fled the war-torn Horn of Africa country with her family at the age of 12 to seek asylum in the UK. (Supplied)
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Updated 16 August 2022

Ramla Ali set to make women’s boxing history in Jeddah

Ramla Ali set to make women’s boxing history in Jeddah
  • British Somali fighter has overcome adversity to take on Crystal Garcia Nova on Usyk-Joshua undercard
  • Law graduate works with UNICEF and set up ‘Sisters Club’ to help vulnerable females

For Ramla Ali, history awaits on Saturday night.

When the British Somali boxer takes on Crystal Garcia Nova on the Oleksandr Usyk versus Anthony Joshua card at Rage on the Red Sea, she will be part of the first ever female professional boxing bout in Saudi Arabia.

As a Muslim and African female pugilist, it is a moment she does not take lightly, and one that did not come easy either.

Adversity has been her constant companion throughout her career.

Ali was born in Somalia in 1989 but fled the war-torn Horn of Africa country with her family at the age of two to seek asylum in the UK.

In school, Ali struggled with her weight, so her mother sent her to a local gym in England where she soon discovered “boxercise” and started taking up the sweet science at the age of 12 without her family’s knowledge.

She caught the eye of talent scouts with regional success, representing England across Europe and eventually winning multiple amateur boxing titles.

But she claims it was not winning amateur titles and other national level achievements that made her take the leap into professional boxing.

Rather it was sparring with formidable US professional world champions and training in gyms across Europe that gave her the belief she deserved a place in the professional ranks.

“Every competition means the world to you at that time. Looking back obviously they don’t all seem to hold the same value but they’re all important chapters in the journey of a sporting career,” said Ali. “Now my family are my biggest supporters which means everything to me as I don’t think I would have wanted to continue if there was still conflict (with them).

“My parents of course would rather I didn’t punch people for a living, but they now understand it’s given me a platform to also do great work outside of the sport.”

Ali is a survivor and continues to achieve her goals despite constant challenges.

‘I haven’t had the privilege of being funded by my country during my international amateur years,” she said. “Every tournament, every camp, every coach or physio was paid for by myself and Richard (Moore, husband and manager), and with this comes the pressure of needing to perform to make sure that it’s all worth it.

“There is definitely a greater expectation of how I should carry myself in comparison to other boxers perhaps because of the young women I represent, the charities and NGOs that I work with or the French fashion brands I’m partnered with,” Ali added. “But this is a pressure I’m happy to carry because fundamentally I want my future daughter and that generation to have a role model that they can be proud of. A career and journey they can aspire to, and not without failure or faults, because I’ve experienced both sides of the coin, but this is life.”

Ali’s work outside the ring is as inspiring as it is inside it. She still deems her law degree as her biggest personal achievement and is keen to highlight the work she does with UNICEF to raise awareness of important issues in East Africa and the Middle East.

In 2018, she founded the Sisters Club. It started as a once-a-week self-defense class in a London gym, and having gained sponsorships from the likes of Nike, Pantene and other brands, Ali saw it as a way to give back to the community.

The charity offered a safe space for hijab-wearing women of color and those that have suffered from domestic violence, giving them a chance to learn about self-defense through boxing and improve their self-confidence.

Now operating across four gyms in London, Ali hopes to see the Sisters Club expand to the US and the Middle East.

Another high point for Ali was representing Somalia at Tokyo 2020, the first fighter from the African nation, male or female, to take part in the boxing competition at the Olympic Games. Her pride at representing her country led her to help set up the Somali Boxing Federation.

Unfortunately, Ali’s hopes that establishing the federation would give others a fighting chance to represent their country were countered with the disappointment of discovering Somali sports is rife with corruption.

Funding provided by the International Olympic Committee for training purposes was allegedly misappropriated by officials instead of being invested in fighters.

Looking back, Ali questions whether she should have gone down that path but remains grateful she represented her country at the Olympics before discovering any wrongdoings, saying: “To some degree, mine and my husband’s naivety and optimism were a blessing.”

Luck, and help, haven’t always been on Ali’s side and she believes far more can be done to help female fighters make the grade.

“I would like to see more of an effort from the other promotional outfits across the UK and US to push female boxing, not just through token signings but a real shift in the landscape,” she said.

Although more females are being contracted — she highlights that the “Boxxer Series” via Sky Sports recently signed two British fighters — their pay remains a fraction of their male counterparts.

“If you look at the sport of tennis, it wasn’t when the women insisted on fairer pay that they received it,” said Ali. “Rather it was when the male players like Andy Murray refused to enter tournaments because of the lack of equality, or when the pressure of journalists and media became too much, that organizations finally started making a difference in their approach.”

It is no surprise that Ali will be one of the two women who make history in Jeddah on Saturday.

Her opponent Nova is a tall, tough super bantamweight from the Dominican Republic with a knockout ratio of over 80 percent.

It will be Ali’s hardest fight yet, but she’s come to Saudi Arabia to win. Since January, she has been training in Los Angeles with coach and former professional boxer Manny Robles.

“California has without a doubt the most female world champions and the highest level of competition and so as my career progresses there is a greater need to up my training regime,” she said. “I am working with Argentinian strength and conditioning coach Mattias Erbin as well, who has been responsible for several world champions over the last 10 years.”

All the hard work, Ali hopes, will come to fruition at Rage on the Red Sea.

“I hope when people look back at me, they see a person who had everything against them in life, but through perseverance and a refusal to quit still managed to have nearly all the same opportunities in life, and achieved at the highest level,” Ali said.

“This fight will be without a doubt one of the high points in my boxing career. To have been part of helping shape the culture towards creating greater equality in the region is more important than my own personal successes or feelings.”


Paris 2024 marathon to trace path of French Revolution

Paris 2024 marathon to trace path of French Revolution
Updated 06 October 2022

Paris 2024 marathon to trace path of French Revolution

Paris 2024 marathon to trace path of French Revolution
  • The marathon route unveiled on Wednesday was modelled on the path of the October 1789 Women’s March on Versailles
  • Organizers have also added two mass events — a marathon and a 10-km run — to allow non-Olympians to run the course

PARIS: Competitors in the marathon at the Paris 2024 Olympics will run from central Paris to Versailles and back, on a course designed to salute women and trace one of the pivotal historic events of the French Revolution.

The marathon route unveiled on Wednesday was modelled on the path of the October 1789 Women’s March on Versailles — when thousands, mainly female market traders furious over the price of bread, marched to the lavish palace of King Louis XVI.

They forced him to return with them to the center of the capital in an event that historians say ended the absolute power of the monarchy.

“We’re trying to give some meaning to our events and choosing this course was a good way to do it,” Paris 2024 boss Tony Estanguet told Reuters. “We really want to innovate.”

For the first time since women began running the Olympic marathon in 1984, women will conclude the athletics program, with their marathon coming a day after the men’s event.

This map released by Olympics Paris 2024 on Wednesday shows the marathon course for Paris Olympics in 2024. The marathon will start from Paris City Hall and wind past famed landmarks. (AP)

“Women first. We wanted to celebrate women,” Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo told a news conference.

“Paris is a place of revolution. It’s a revolutionary city, so this course makes sense,” added Valerie Pecresse, the head of the Ile de France (greater Paris) region.

Organizers have also added two mass events — a marathon and a 10-km run — to allow non-Olympians to run the course. Each will be open to 20,024 participants.

“Our country proclaims loud and clear that high-level sport must more than ever be a source of inspiration for all generations while driving mass participation,” French Sports minister Amelie Oudea-Castera said.

“Sport has the power to positively transform society: Let us give it every means to do so.”

The marathon course will pass Parisian monuments including the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum, the Palais Garnier, the Jardin des Tuileries and several world-famous bridges.

“Beyond a doubt, the Paris 2024 marathon will have something special about it. To perform in such an impressive setting, in a place so charged with history and symbolism, will be a unique experience,” said two-time Olympic champion and world record holder Eliud Kipchoge.

“I could not ask for a more perfect race for the Games.”

It will also be an unusually challenging route, with 438 meters of altitude gain.

“It appears to be more demanding than normal,” World Athletics president Sebastian Coe told Reuters. “Clearly it’s a marathon that will be challenging. But some marathon runners prefer undulating courses.” 


Haaland scores double as City cruise past Copenhagen, Chelsea boost knockout phase hopes

Haaland scores double as City cruise past Copenhagen, Chelsea boost knockout phase hopes
Updated 06 October 2022

Haaland scores double as City cruise past Copenhagen, Chelsea boost knockout phase hopes

Haaland scores double as City cruise past Copenhagen, Chelsea boost knockout phase hopes
  • Lionel Messi scored but Paris Saint-Germain were held to a 1-1 draw by Benfica in Lisbon

PARIS: Erling Haaland continued his remarkable goalscoring form by netting twice as Manchester City thrashed FC Copenhagen 5-0 in the Champions League on Wednesday, while Chelsea saw off AC Milan to revive their hopes of reaching the last 16.

Holders Real Madrid survived a spirited challenge from Ukrainians Shakhtar Donetsk at the Santiago Bernabeu to win 2-1 and extend their advantage in Group F.

Lionel Messi scored but Paris Saint-Germain were held to a 1-1 draw by Benfica in Lisbon. 

Paris Saint-Germain's Argentine forward Lionel Messi celebrates with teammate Kylian Mbappe after scoring the opening goal during the  Champions League  Group H match between SL Benfica and PSG. (AFP)

Haaland went into City’s game against Copenhagen at the Etihad Stadium having becoming the first player in Premier League history to score three successive home hat tricks in Sunday’s demolition of Manchester United.

The Norwegian slammed in the opening goal on seven minutes with his weaker right foot before prodding in a rebound for his second 25 minutes later.

The 22-year-old has now scored 28 times in his 22 Champions League appearances, already breaking Ruud van Nistelrooy’s record for most goals in a player’s first 30 games in the competition.

“I’ve never witnessed anything like it in my life,” City’s Jack Grealish told BT Sport.

“For the first and second goals I was just laughing. He is always there.

“The ‘keeper said something to me as I was walking back. He said ‘He’s not human!’ I said ‘You’re telling me?’ Hopefully he can carry on this form and take us to glory.”

Visiting center-back Davit Khocholava put through his own net, with Haaland waiting behind him, to make it three before half-time.

Haaland was denied a fourth City treble as he was replaced at the interval, but a Riyad Mahrez penalty and Julian Alvarez’s fourth goal for the club completed the rout.

Pep Guardiola’s men remain three points clear of second-placed Borussia Dortmund in Group G and will qualify for the knockout phase with a victory in the Danish capital next week.

Jude Bellingham scored for the third time in as many Champions League outings as Dortmund romped to a 4-1 victory at Sevilla.

The Spanish club responded to the defeat — and a desperately poor start to the season which has left them 17th in La Liga — by sacking coach Julen Lopetegui shortly after the final whistle.

Chelsea ended their wait for a win in Group E as goals from Wesley Fofana, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Reece James sealed an impressive 3-0 triumph over Italian champions AC Milan at Stamford Bridge.

The Blues made it back-to-back victories under new boss Graham Potter to set up a crucial clash at the San Siro in six days’ time.

Chelsea are second in Group E, level on points with third-placed Milan, one point behind leaders Salzburg who edged out Dinamo Zagreb 1-0.

“It’s easier when you win games,” said Aubameyang. “The mood is very good at the moment. We’ll try to keep it up.”

Shakhtar put on a battling display in Madrid, with goalkeeper Anatoliy Trubin making 11 saves, but could not overcome a two-goal deficit against Real.

Goals in the first half-hour from Rodrygo and Vinicius Junior put Real in control and the 14-time champions made it three wins from three in Group F despite Oleksandr Zubkov’s effort for Shakhtar.

Madrid will be sure of a last-16 spot if they can beat second-placed Shakhtar next time out.

RB Leipzig are just a point behind Shakhtar after Joe Hart’s error helped the Germans down Celtic 3-1.

The former England goalkeeper’s poor pass led to Andre Silva restoring Leipzig’s lead in the second half before the Portugal striker netted again late on.

Benfica remain level on points with leaders PSG at the Group H summit after a hard-fought draw against one of the tournament favorites.

Messi produced a trademark left-footed finish into the top corner after a neat exchange of passes also involving Neymar and Kylian Mbappe to score his 127th Champions League goal in the 22nd minute.

Benfica leveled four minutes before the break as Danilo Pereira scored an own goal and both sides spurned chances to win in the second half.

Messi only scored 11 goals in 34 games in his first season for PSG last term, but already has eight in 13 this time around.

“It’s normal, it takes a little time,” PSG skipper Marquinhos told Canal Plus. “Now he feels a little more comfortable... I hope Leo Messi has a great season until the end to win this title.”

Juventus moved within four points of the top two as Adrien Rabiot’s brace and a Dusan Vlahovic goal gave the Italians a 3-1 victory over Maccabi Haifa for their first points.


Fan who caught Aaron Judge’s 62nd home run offered $2 million for ball

Fan who caught Aaron Judge’s 62nd home run offered $2 million for ball
Updated 06 October 2022

Fan who caught Aaron Judge’s 62nd home run offered $2 million for ball

Fan who caught Aaron Judge’s 62nd home run offered $2 million for ball
  • Cory Youmans grabbed the historic souvenir on the fly as it sailed into the front row of section 31 in left field

NEW YORK: The owner of a sports memorabilia auction house says he has offered $2 million to the fan who caught Aaron Judge’s American League-record 62nd home run.

JP Cohen, president of Memory Lane Inc. in Tustin, California, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that he has texted and emailed Cory Youmans, the man who caught Judge’s milestone shot Tuesday night at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas. Cohen says Youmans has not yet replied.

“I feel the offer is way above fair, if he is inclined to sell it,” Cohen said in a telephone interview with the AP on Wednesday.

Youmans grabbed the historic souvenir on the fly as it sailed into the front row of section 31 in left field. The homer pushed Judge past Roger Maris for the AL season record — a mark many consider baseball’s “clean” standard because the only National League players who hit more have been tarnished by ties to steroids.

Youmans, who is from Dallas, works in the financial world. He was asked Tuesday what he planned to do with the prize while security personnel whisked him away to have it authenticated.

“Good question. I haven’t thought about it,” he said.

The record price for a home run ball is $3 million, paid for Mark McGwire’s record 70th from the 1998 season.

Cohen had previously pledged to offer $2 million for Judge’s 62nd homer. He said his company has a good relationship with the Yankees and it would be willing to loan the ball to the team for an exhibit. He added the team has frequently exhibited items owned by Memory Lane at Yankee Stadium.

“We did make an offer of $2 million and that offer is still valid,” Cohen said.

After the Yankees lost 3-2, Judge said he didn’t have possession of the home run ball.

“I don’t know where it’s at,” he said. “We’ll see what happens with that. It would be great to get it back, but that’s a souvenir for a fan. He made a great catch out there, and they’ve got every right to it.”

Youmans was among the crowd of 38,832, the largest to watch a baseball game at the 3-year-old ballpark.


Chastened Man United back in Europa League action

Chastened Man United back in Europa League action
Updated 05 October 2022

Chastened Man United back in Europa League action

Chastened Man United back in Europa League action
  • United flew to Cyprus on Wednesday after Ten Hag held a summit with his players
  • He encouraged them to speak openly about their failures against City

DUBAI: Erik ten Hag says Manchester United will learn lessons from Sunday’s humiliating 6-3 loss to Manchester City.
The healing process begins with a trip to Omonia Nicosia for the third round of matches in Europe’s second-tier competition.
United flew to Cyprus on Wednesday after Ten Hag held a summit with his players where he encouraged them to speak openly about their failures against City.
Ten Hag said he was grateful to City manager Pep Guardiola for bringing his team down to earth after four straight wins in the Premier League had seen spirits rise at United.
“It was a reality check, so we have to learn from it and carry on,” he said. “But we can get a lot of confidence about this theory, when you beat Arsenal, you beat Liverpool and now we get a reality check with Man City — so we know we have to step up.”
In other standout matches, Roma have the chance to move level on points with Group C leader Real Betis when they meet in Italy, while Arsenal can go top of Group A with a win at home to Norwegian team
EUROPA CONFERENCE LEAGUE
West Ham go for a third straight win in their group as the English team head to Anderlecht for a repeat of the 1976 final of the now-defunct Cup Winners’ Cup.
West Ham, which have beaten Romanian club FCSB and Danish club Silkeborg, are one of five teams on a maximum six points — along with FC Basel, AZ Alkmaar, Villarreal and Istanbul Basaksehir


Leipzig beats Celtic 3-1 for 1st win in Champions League

Leipzig beats Celtic 3-1 for 1st win in Champions League
Updated 05 October 2022

Leipzig beats Celtic 3-1 for 1st win in Champions League

Leipzig beats Celtic 3-1 for 1st win in Champions League
  • The win came at a cost as influential goalkeeper Péter Gulácsi had to be carried off early with an apparent right knee injury
  • Nkunku showed his class in the 27th when he went past Hart and finished from a narrow angle

LEIPZIG, Germany: Leipzig earned their first win of the Champions League season by beating Celtic 3-1 on Wednesday thanks to two late goals from André Silva and a defensive error from visiting goalkeeper Joe Hart.
The outstanding Christopher Nkunku also scored as Leipzig finally got off the mark in Group F after losses to Shakhtar Donetsk and Real Madrid. But the win came at a cost as influential goalkeeper Péter Gulácsi had to be carried off early with an apparent right knee injury.
Janis Blaswich replaced him for his Champions League debut.
Nkunku had a goal ruled out through VAR for offside shortly afterward, but the French player showed his class in the 27th when he went past Hart and finished from a narrow angle.
Kyogo Furuhashi had just gone close for the visitors, who suffered a further blow when captain Callum McGregor had to go off injured in the 37th.
Portuguese winger Jota equalized in the 47th when Furuhashi sent him through for a one-on-one with Blaswich. Jota sidefooted a low shot inside the far post for his first Champions League goal.
Dominik Szoboszlai struck the post in response, then thought he scored with a shot from 20 meters (yards) inside the far post. But VAR again ruled it out as André Silva had blocked Hart’s view.
The Celtic goalkeeper then gifted Leipzig their second goal when he passed straight to Szoboszlai, who teed up Silva to put the host ahead in the 64th.
Then Nkunku shone again with a brilliant ball for Mohamed Simakan to tee up Silva to seal the result in the 77th.
Celtic dropped to the bottom of Group F with one point.