- In 2016, an avenue in the city of Grozny was named in honor of your father. You were surprised that it was in the capital of Chechnya that they decided to perpetuate his memory?
- Yes and no. I understand that Muhammad Ali is a global figure. He was able to reach millions of people of different races, nationalities and cultures. He was good at getting in touch with them, influencing them, inspiring them to become as good as possible. Therefore, what happened surprised me, but not so much.
- How would Muhammad react to this?
“I think he would be flattered to learn that a street in Grozny was named in his honor.” He would be very pleased.
- Does it surprise you that Muhammad Ali is revered in a country where he has never performed?
- Not. He really wanted to influence as many people as possible. He used boxing as a platform to do more good things and inspire by example.
- As you know, the head of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov sent you a personal invitation to visit Grozny. You agreed?
- Of course! Firstly, I would like to thank Kadyrov for his wonderful invitation. We were deeply moved and flattered, we look forward to using it. We have never been to Russia, but this is one of the places where I would like to visit. I heard that it’s very beautiful there.
- How did you respond to Kadyrov’s invitation?
“I thought it was an incredibly kind and cordial act.” We sincerely want to visit the beautiful city of Grozny.
- In 1978, your father visited the Soviet Union. Has he ever told you about this trip?
- No, because then I was only eight years old. But I saw his photographs taken during the trip. Apparently, he had a good time. Everything looked very beautiful, and people seemed warm-hearted and friendly.
This is one of those moments when I look at a map of the world and think: “Wherever my father visited, wherever he left his mark ...” This is simply amazing.
- Your son, Nico Ali Walsh, has expressed a desire to hold a boxing match in Chechnya. What do you think of it?
- He is very passionate about boxing - this is his family. Like my sister Leila, choosing a career for himself, he decided to follow in the footsteps of my father and was passionately carried away by his business. It seems to me that it connected them with each other, was for them a point of contact. They often talked about boxing. Nico passionately loves this sport. As for the opportunity to perform somewhere in Russia, he is overwhelmed by enthusiasm. Let's hope that everything works out. For him it would be great joy and great honor.
- How long has he been engaged in boxing?
- He's still at an amateur level. He has been boxing for about five years. He started late, because we did not want him to become a boxer from an early age — she tried to take him away from this. But somewhere in the eighth grade, shortly before moving to high school, he became vividly interested in him, participating in charity fights.
- What happened then?
- Aimed at the amateur level, constantly improving. He talked about boxing with Muhammad, received very valuable advice from him and, apparently, decided to go along this path as far as possible. Like his grandfather, try to become a powerful source of inspiration.
- Muhammad advised Niko to follow his slogan: "Flutter like a butterfly, sorry like a bee"?
- My son asked him a question: "Grandfather, tell me how to become a good fighter"? He replied: "We need to move and dance."
“Nico heeded his advice?”
- He tries as carefully as possible to follow the example of his grandfather and in his sports career to do as he instructed. We hope that in 2020 he will make his debut in the professional ring ... This is an exciting time for us.
- Besides boxing, do you see any similarities between Niko and Muhammad?
- Yes, and a lot - starting with a passion for boxing ... Like my father, Nico loves him wholeheartedly and works very purposefully in this area. He was guided by the advice of Muhammad with regard to diet, he monitors the health of his body, keeps himself in shape, eats properly. All this seriously affects him as an amateur boxer and I think that will allow him to seriously advance in sports.
- In recent years, mixed martial arts have strengthened their status as a serious boxing competitor. How do you feel about this sport?
- My two sons, husband and I are MMA fans. In addition, my brother-in-law is a professional fighter. So I love this sport, like Nico. He has many friends who are professionally involved in mixed martial arts.
- Is it likely that Nico will decide to try his hand at MMA?
“I don't think so.” He prefers traditional boxing, which was engaged in by his grandfather. This is what he gravitates to, his passion.
- What do you think Mohammed Ali would say about MMA?
- My father and I once went to watch the K-1 match (the Japanese promotion, under whose auspices there were kickboxing fights) . It seems to me that this was even before MMA began to gain popularity. He like it very much. Of course, he would follow traditional boxing with great pleasure, but he would watch MMA with interest. This is also a martial art. I think he would have liked it.
- There is an opinion that it was Muhammad Ali who became the founder of the trash current in martial arts. Agree that it was his example that inspired fighters like Conor McGregor?
- Oh sure. Father was the first to use thrash current in sports. And in my opinion, he did great. This is one of the things he has become famous for. People then have not seen anything like it. I think Muhammad became an example for both Conor and many other fighters. He did it better than anyone else.
- In your opinion, if there were a press conference with the participation of Muhammad Ali and Conor McGregor, who would look more convincing in terms of trash current?
- Of course, I’ll answer that my father. After all, Muhammad was the founder, the king of thrash-current and the first rapper. Yes, I think dad would be the winner.
- How do you feel about thrash current?
- This is a way to attract people who, under other circumstances, would not watch MMA or other martial arts. Thrash current makes the fight more interesting, adds some kind of story. My father himself did this.
- Conor McGregor is often called "Muhammad Ali from MMA." What do you think about it?
- McGregor is not Muhammad Ali, but I do not mind such a comparison. Like my dad at the time, he changed the sport, making it exciting for the viewer. When he appeared on stage with his thrash talk and numerous high-profile statements, attention to mixed martial arts was shown by those who had not watched them before. He made the sport interesting and exciting.
- In your opinion, how does Conor himself compare with the legendary boxer?
- Of course, he is embarrassed by this, because he himself was guided by Muhammad.
- In January, he prevailed on Donald Cerrone in his first fight after a 15-month break. How did you react to his return to the octagon?
- I was very glad that he got into a fight with the Cowboy and had an amazing time. It looked the same as in the prime of life. I could not believe that in the first round it would all end. McGregor was in great shape. He looked impressive.
- In October 2018, McGregor suffered a serious defeat from Khabib Nurmagomedov. What can you say about the Russian champion?
- It seems that Khabib still had no defeats in mixed martial arts ... And this can not be discounted. Nurmagomedov is amazing. Our family is his big fans. He has a wonderful grappling style, and the fact that he managed to defeat McGregor is generally fantastic.
- Over the course of a year and a half, conversations about a possible rematch between Nurmagomedov and McGregor have not ceased. Would you like to watch for their second duel?
- I look forward to this fight. In the style of Habib, there is more grappling, and Conor - more boxing. It would be very exciting to see a combination of these elements in their new battle. I am not an expert in MMA, but a spectator like the rest, but I think that the rematch will be amazing. I can't wait to see him.
- In your opinion, who will prevail in the event of a second match?
- Both can win. I won’t even guess. You tune in to one, and the battle begins, and everything can change. Conor is able to regain his belt, but who knows ...
See the full version of the interview on the RTD website.