With boxers around the world paying tribute to Muhammad Ali, who passed away last weekend, Zachary Wohlman, known as “Kid Yamaka”, says Ali will forever be “the face of boxing”, before telling a story of how a signed Ali glove helped helped him get back into the ring.
The 28-year-old, who last fought in March, and is preparing for his next fight, told jewishnews.co.uk: “I was 19 years old living at Beit Tshuvah, a Jewish rehabilitation community in Los Angeles. Having had some brushes with law I had been given…let’s say a fruitful amount of community service in retrospect. Serving that community service would mean clocking my hours, sweeping and general upkeep at the local Salvation Army.
“One day I saw a glove with a faded signature on the shelf, it looked so familiar and I couldn’t understand why. On top of community service, they usually gave me $10 bucks a day, bus fair and a meal on the way home, at best. On that day I asked for the glove instead of cash and took the long way home. I threw the glove on my bed and circled back that evening after Torah study to try it on. I felt something as I stuck my hand in, grabbed on to it with my fingers and pulled out a certificate of authenticity signed by Muhammad Ali! For me it was a very clear sign to get back in the ring and continue doing what I had given up on and love so much.
“Years later after winning the golden gloves, I was able to become a professional boxer under the tutelage of Freddie Roach and Eric Brown. As for the glove, it’s gone. After I turned pro I tossed it to a friend of mine’s eight-year-old son and said: “Catch! Your going to go college! And the greatest of all time is paying your tuition!”