MUHAMMAD Ali is confident that he can put his two-year drug ban behind him to begin an assault on the professional boxing ranks before the end of the year.

Keighley-born Ali had been on his way to Olympic stardom before he was suspended for a couple of years after testing positive to the anabolic muscle growth steroid, Trenbolone, during the World Series of Boxing in Morocco in April 2017.

Now, the 23-year-old is turning professional after receiving confirmation from the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBofC) on Sunday that he was medically fit enough.

The former 2016 Rio Olympian is in full training and hopes to have his first two pro fights before the year is out.

Ali - a former member of Bradford Police & College Boxing Academy - thinks the two years out may have played to his advantage and believes he can go all the way to the top of the pro ranks.

He said: “I think it (the two-year ban) was a blessing in disguise.

“I used the two years out to my advantage to hone my skills and get better. I think I have improved a lot.

“I want to go all the way, hopefully I can become unified world champion.

“I need to take one step at a time and see what happens.

“Apart from the first six months, I have been in the gym everyday since the two years out.

“Everyone will see the massive improvement in me when I get back into the ring.”

When recalling that failed drugs test, Ali is adamant that he has never taken the steroid in his life and cannot understand how they found a muscle gainer in his system.

The 2014 World Youth Championships and 2016 European Championships silver medalist admits that the spell out did make him consider his future in the sport but is glad that he can put his period out of the ring behind him now.

When asked if it was the hardest period of his life, Ali said: “Yeah pretty much.

“It was a bit of a bad patch in my life, at the time I didn’t know what to do.

“I have never taken anything, I know everyone says it but I haven’t.

“There has never been any need for me too, I was doing well anyway.

“I don’t even know what Trenbolone is.

“As an amateur I was 52kg as a flyweight, at 5 foot 8, it doesn’t make sense for me to take a mass gainer.

“I used to be drained, trying to kill myself to make the weight. If it was a fat burner, it would be slightly more believable but a mass gainer, it doesn’t add up.”

The former Bradford College student added: “All it did was mess me up. I felt sorry for myself because everyone knows that I have done nothing wrong.

“I was feeling down all the time and didn’t know what to do with my life.

“For the first six months, I was in my bedroom just getting fat.

“When it first broke into the media, everyone was giving me stick and none of those people know me.

“They thought I was on steroids but no way, I am just a skinny twig.

“It got to a few months and I thought forget this, I can’t feel sorry for myself any more.

“I thought there was nothing that I could do to change their minds, so I had to ignore it and not let it frustrate me.”

While out, Ali had been sparring with West Yorkshire pair Josh Warrington and Kid Galahad in preparation for their world title clash.

The flyweight thinks he held more than his own and can one day see himself at that level.

He said: “I am a Muslim and we have Ramadan so while I was fasting, I was still holding more than my own, I sparred well.

“I was fatigued and drained after not eating anything for 18 hours but I was still doing all right.

“Kid Galahad flopped against Josh Warrington at world title level, I want to go one better than him.”

Now that his drug ban is behind him, Ali hopes to follow in the footsteps of the Bradford district’s boxing sons and become its next star in the sport.