Sadam "Worldkid" Ali Wins First Fight in Hometown
BAY RIDGE — Brooklyn boxer Sadam "Worldkid" Ali remained undefeated Saturday night, stopping Franklin Gonzalez in the eighth and final round to win the World Boxing Union welterweight title and his first fight in his home borough.
Ali, 23, won by technical knockout, hammering Gonzalez to the mat twice before the referee stopped the bout, eliciting thunderous cheers from a hometown crowd that packed the Aviator Sports Complex on Flatbush Avenue. He extended his record to 15-0 (9 knockouts).
"It was amazing," Ali said. "I felt like a celebrity. That's how crazy everyone was going. People were jumping, everyone was cheering. I came out, everyone wanted to talk to me. It's a great feeling."
The win carried special significance for Ali, a Yemeni-American and Canarsie native who, in 2008, became the first Arab-American to represent the United States in the Olympics. The fight not only was his first in Brooklyn, but also his first at the top of a card, his first competing for a title and his first promoted by his own company, Worldkid Promotions.
With the win and the turnout, "I feel like I showed I have the fan base," Ali said. "I have the people that want to see me fight and love watching me fight. I feel like I showed I am a good fighter."
The night also proved particularly memorable for Ali's father, David. He first introduced Ali to boxing at age 8, and he has been in the corner of every one of Ali's 200-plus amateur and pro fights ever since.
"I was lost there," David said. "I didn't know what to do. I didn't know what's what. The lines were incredible. People waiting to get their tickets.
"People were chanting, 'Ali, Ali, Ali.' We couldn't keep them quiet."
On Sunday, Ali was greeted with another first: a parade on Brooklyn's Fifth Avenue from Worldkid Gym at 69th Street to 86th Street, where Bay Ridge residents greeted him like a conquering hero.
"The kids that came to the fight over there were just holding up my posters and walking with me through the parade," Ali said.
As David described, "The crowd was going crazy, hugging Sadam, kissing Sadam, signing autographs. Kids, women, young ladies, older men. It took him a long time to make it to the other end."
Sadam said he is taking the next two weeks off to relax and recover — the first time he's had two days off in a row since Thanksgiving. He said he plans to sleep and do some of the things he couldn't do in the weeks leading up to the fight, namely play basketball with friends, shoot pool and go bowling.
He and David expect to climb back in the ring in September or October. Golden Boy Promotions, the company Hall-of-Fame boxer Oscar de la Hoya created to promote himself when he was fighting, is organizing a fight in Brooklyn for Ali's friend and fellow Brooklynite Paul Malignaggi. Ali, if signed to be part of the event, would fight as an undercard.
"He's comfortable in Brooklyn," David said, "he loves Brooklyn, that's where his fans are."