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Nico Ali Walsh, grandson of Muhammad Ali, signs with Top Rank

Photo by Top Rank/Mikey Williams
Fighters Network

Nico Ali Walsh, the grandson of Muhammad Ali, has signed a multi-fight promotional deal with Top Rank, it was announced Thursday. 

The 20-year-old will make his professional debut in a four-round middleweight bout on August 14, which will air live on ESPN.

Ali Walsh is the son of retired U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Robert Walsh and Rasheda Ali Walsh, Muhammad Ali’s daughter and a noted public speaker who uses her platform to raise money for Parkinson’s research, which Ali suffered from after retiring from the ring in 1981. 

Born on Chicago’s South Side and now residing in Las Vegas, Ali Walsh had roughly 30 amateur fights. As a young child in Chicago, he made his amateur debut at a benefit for St. Baldrick’s Foundation and broke out the Ali Shuffle. Ali Walsh graduated from Bishop Gorman High School in 2018 and is currently a full-time student at UNLV, where he is on track to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in business next spring. 

Ali Walsh will be juggling classes and fighting as he embarks on his pro career under the guidance of Bob Arum, who promoted 27 of his grandfather’s fights, including the epic “Thrilla in Manila” bout against Joe Frazier (1975) and the rubber match against Ken Norton at Yankee Stadium (1977).

“Nico’s grandfather was a pretty good fighter,” quipped Arum, who is the chairman of Top Rank. “Hopefully, Nico will emulate his success. He’s a young man of great character, which one would expect from Muhammad Ali’s grandson.”

Ali Walsh has enlisted a pair of Kronk Gym’s most notable figures for his in-ring development. SugarHill Steward, nephew of the late Emanuel Steward and the head trainer of WBC heavyweight titleholder Tyson Fury, will be his chief second. Richard T. Slone, who held numerous positions at Kronk and is now a world-renowned artist, will be in Ali Walsh’s corner as a trainer and cut man. During a recent training camp in Las Vegas, he sparred former unified junior middleweight titleholder Julian Williams and unbeaten junior welterweight contender Shohjahon Ergashev, both ranked respectively by The Ring.

Some of Ali Walsh’s earliest gym memories are with his grandfather by his side. Ali remains a symbol of sport and humanity to countless people, but to Ali Walsh, he’s the beloved grandpa he calls “Poppy.” 

“To me, I was hanging out in the gym with my grandfather,” said Ali Walsh. “Sometimes I have to remind myself that he’s everyone’s idol.

“I’m doing what I love. Signing with Top Rank is a dream come true. I’m going to have fun on Aug. 14 and the next time I fight. Top Rank will give me the name, date and location, and I’ll have a great time. I am honored to continue the fighting legacy that my grandfather started. It is a responsibility I don’t take lightly.”

Ali Walsh’s uncle, Mike Joyce, brokered the deal with Top Rank and will serve as his nephew’s manager, agent and attorney. 

“Family history and legacy was a big factor in Nico signing with Top Rank,” Joyce said. “I’ve signed many fighters to Top Rank, and Bob has always treated them fairly. Nico was a little bit in awe of Bob, and it cemented his belief that he was with the right promoter. He thinks this is going to be a historic journey.” 

Francisco A. Salazar has written for The Ring since October of 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (Calif.) Star newspaper. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing