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Kato Ali, 0-17, was a journeyman fighter from Philadelphia, PA who fought for nearly two decades in the super lightweight division. While most boxing fans will not recognize the name, most fans can still respect any fighter willing to get inside the ring and sacrifice himself for the entertainment for others. This is a tribute to all fighters that continue to enter the squared circle (despite the fact that they have no chance at winning a title) just out of the thrill for competition and for the love of boxing.
Ali began his career at the Armory in Dover, Delaware on November 15, 1979 when he dropped a four-round decision to Antonio Nieves, who was also making his professional debut. Less than two months later, Kato would drop another decision to Martin Parham in Hempstead, N.Y.
Ali had the opportunity to derail a young prospect’s dreams of winning the world title in his next two fights. Future junior welterweight champion Billy Costello encountered Ali in two clashes at the Westchester County Center in White Plains, N.Y in the first four months in 1980. As Costello tried to pad his resume early on with some easy wins, Ali almost did not comply with his opponent’s wishes. Costello, who was a 1978 Golden Gloves Champion, escaped with a split-decision win in their first contest but was able to stop Ali in the rematch two months later. Costello would defeat Bruce Curry by tenth-round knockout to win the WBC World Junior Welterweight title in January 1984.
Ali would be matched against another up-and-coming prospect, Tony Santana, in his very next bout. Once again, Kato was outpointed by a rising star trying to add victims to his resume. However, he did not fully comply with the future USBA/NABF title contender and simply lay down for his opponent. Instead, he battled him for the distance of the fight.
On May 16, 1981, Ali was pitted against a flashy, young prospect out of New York City by the name of Hector “Macho” Camacho. The contest was held at the Concord Resort Hotel in Kiamesha Lake, N.Y. where Camacho entered the bout undefeated after six fights.
Camacho spent seven rounds battering and chasing journeyman Kato Ali, who didn’t win a round but who at least remained competitive for the first six rounds. Ali was taking a beating on the ropes in round seven when the referee wisely put a stop to the action. Camacho would go on to become a three-division world champion in the future, winning his first world title in 1983.
Kato Ali would be stopped again in his next two fights, before losing three straight decisions. Four of his opponents would end up having losing records at the end of their respective careers. Larry Barge, 6-0, 4 KO’s and Tim Krause, 4-0, 3 KO’s, both quit the sport of boxing shortly after their contests with Ali.
At this stage of his career, promoters were using the winless Ali as an easy opponent for young fighters to beat on and pick up cheap wins. Unfortunately, Kato would comply this time with matchmakers and fail to go the distance in any of his final four bouts.
Kato Ali was another fighter that stayed around too long for his own good, but fought on to get a paycheck. Thankfully, someone intervened and convinced Ali that life goes on outside the ring, and that there are safer ways to earn a living.