Who is Zain Ali, in his own words…
Ahead of his delayed professional boxing debut on October 20, Zain Ali took time from his busy training camp to introduce himself to the BBN readers:
"I am Zain Ali, a British Pakistani born in Birmingham into a loving family who have always enjoyed boxing.
"At the age of 9, I was put into Nechells Green ABC which is run by Ernie Holt. He has been in the boxing business for the last 50 years and has been a significant influence in helping youngsters like myself. I am now 24 years of age and have been with them for over 12 years. What makes this club different to others is that their aim is not to only to train boxers, but also to keep the youth on the straight path and out of crime. The club is always open to anyone that feels like they have no option out or need someone to speak to.
"Going back a couple of years, I didn’t have the best childhood. In school, I was always the boy who was causing trouble, not listening, continually being told off or getting sent home. No one believed in me, so I stopped believing in myself; the only thing I was good at and confident in was boxing.
"Due to my bad performance at school, I was constantly stressed, which led to me taking the easy option out and committing myself to the streets. Being from Alumrock, which is a somewhat troubled and run down area, it was not easy to stay away from the surrounding gang violence and knife crime. Unfortunately for me, from a young age, I mixed in with the wrong crowds and got myself into things that could have gotten me a lot of years in jail, and banned from being able to box.
"Thankfully, my coaches never gave up on me and continued to see my potential, which motivated me to turn my life around before it was too late. Seeing the effort Mark and Ernie went through and the amount of stress and pain I put my family through, I decided enough is enough. I began to focus on boxing and left my past behind. I would like to mention in particular Mark Holt, who was a father figure to me and put the utmost effort in to make me the best version of myself. Whether it was boxing, family issues or personal issues, he never backed away from helping me, which is what the youths of today need.
"Nechells Green ABC may not be the best-facilitated club, but it is a family-run club that I am proud to be a part of, so I want to credit these guys as I start a new journey in my life. I am sure many other youths/young adults would be extremely grateful and would vouch for Nechells Green ABC and what they have done for them.
"One of the biggest reasons why I am so passionate about boxing is because my beloved Grandmother, who is not with us anymore, had always dreamt of me one day becoming a boxer. After many years of struggle and determination, I am hoping to turn professional next year and fulfil this dream of hers.
"I am looking to start my journey to becoming a professional boxer in 2020. I will continue to train at my amateur gym, which is Nechells Green ABC. I will most definitely be keeping my coach Mark Holt because it is Mark who has always been in my corner and will remain in my corner regardless of my status.
"I am very excited to start this journey, and I am hoping all of Birmingham will be behind me. I honestly hope my story helps and encourages at least one person who is currently struggling with education/ crime/ boxing or anyone who is not confident enough to start their own journey.
"Furthermore, if there are any businesses that would like to sponsor me and be part of the process, then you can contact me via my email address which will be listed below. Thank you for reading my story."