Ali Boulala returned to the global circuit, touring with friends and making welcome appearances again this year in a manner some would lazily apply to that of a ‘changed man’. In reality, as anyone who popped along to Wholesome last week to check out KR3W’s new footwear range would have noticed, Ali is the same lovable, eccentric, warm, impeccably dressed and instantly friendly human he always has been… he just as a new ring on his finger.
It helps that he’s around such good friends and has excellent support from his sponsors KR3W and Flip. Lizard King had only met Ali for a few days before making one of his infamous impulse purchases and buying Ali a new iPhone after his old one suffered a mysterious fate at the bottom of his wife, Amanda’s bag. When you consider that footballers have the tendency to be absolute gits to one another, it’s no surprise to see a team gel so well not just with each other, but everyone who offered a hand out to be shook. This is something that barely exists outside of skateboarding.
It was an enormous pleasure to catch five minutes with Ali to talk about his physical recovery and when he expects to be back on the board. And he will be, there’s no doubt about that.
Ali and Amanda Portrait: Stanley
B/W Photography: Shad Lambert
So the last we heard about your physical condition you were waiting for an operation to sort out the calcium deposits in your hip… what’s the news on the operation?
I’m still waiting for my operation, as soon as…
Intermission: Understandably, Ali is getting a lot of attention from the fashion expert heads lurking around Wholesome. Just as the interview gets started, Ali is approached by a gentleman fascinated by his unsurprisingly eye-catching footwear. He inquires as to whether his shoes were purchased in France and Ali isn’t hesitant to correct his misjudgement, informing him that they were in fact a present from his friend Braydon in America, or specifically Vegas, as he likes to pretend he’s from. This unprecendented interruption takes the interview on a brief detour away from the revelation we want to hear onto a discussion about shoes… given that this was a footwear line launch I suppose this was to be expected. Ali returns to the microphone after the winklepicker connoiseur buggers off…
The KR3W shoes look similar to what you’re wearing actually… that’s some sophisticated shit right there…
Yeah! I know. I really like the shoes they have on show upstairs. I can’t wait to get some.
Back to the operation, what’s the situation?
Yeah, I’m still waiting. But Geoff said that he’s going to pay for it, either as a wedding present or something. As soon as this tour is over I’m going to have the operation done privately. Obviously they’ll be some physiotherapy but hopefully by summer I’ll be doing some tricks and not just rolling around!
Where will you be living – are you staying in Sweden for the recovery process and then going on tours or are you thinking about moving?
I don’t know really, I think about moving all the time! Haha. Like, even now we’re in London and I’ve already said “yeah, we should just stay here” I’d say this to Amanda, “come on we’re already here let’s just not go back”. But then we have not much money and blah blah blah London but then we move back to Sweden and it’s exactly the same!
It would be great to have you back in the UK… what’s the best memory you have of living here?
I remember back when I was 16 and in Liverpool, that was fun. We were just kids going out skating in the freezing cold … which thinking about it probably wasn’t the best memory at all! Haha. Then I lived in Brighton, I don’t know how long for but it was fun. Not much skating happened but it was fun. And London is just London. Being here is great.
So how’s life changed since you’ve actually got married? Congratulations by the way!
Haha, not much actually. But I have this ring on my finger (Ali shows me his ring) and that’s it!
How’s this tour been so far?
Really good. It’s so much fun to be going around with all my friends again, and meeting Lizard King… he is hilarious.
That photo of him ollieing over you at Bercy made it pretty evident that you two got on really well.
Yeah he’s so funny. Before I even met him I kind of knew… I had this picture in my head of what he’d be like and it was exactly right. In Hamburg, when the tour started I met him for the first time and it felt like I’d already known him for years.
Is there anyone else you’ve met on this tour?
Maybe Horsey… I probably saw him around when living in London though.
Didn’t Horsey get lost in Birmingham? Did Lizard chase him away?
Haha! That was the rumour…
So how about your skating… now that you’re not in the dark about the operation anymore when do you hope that you’ll be on the board again?
I want to go back on as soon as possible man. As soon as this tour is over I can get the operation done privately through Geoff and I can get recovering properly. Since I’ve come back to Sweden I’ve just been waiting for seven months.
Will you be back 100%? The way you approach skating has always seemed to be very demanding for the body… will you carry on in such a way or will there be a little change maybe?
I don’t know, see the doctors don’t really know about skating but they have said that my leg will be 100% back of its full ability so to me that means I can probably skate exactly like I did before.
Do you have anywhere specific you want to go once you’re healthy?
No where specific, anywhere would be fine, I’m excited to go anywhere so long as I can skate again. Even flatground, it doesn’t matter where it is.
It must be torture for you now waiting…
I haven’t skated since the accident in 2007. I can just about stand on the board and maybe roll but nothing else… that’s it, I can’t even ollie because of my hip.
Did you keep up to date with what everyone else was doing in skating?
Yeah, I was sent magazines, Thrasher, some Swedish magazines and Amanda would bring in some magazines every now and again… every time they’d be more new names of people I had no idea existed. There’s been so many videos.
Everything is going straight online now…
Yeah that’s it… there’s been so many videos. I haven’t really seen any of the new ones. I’m so behind.
Flip have stayed with you, KR3W have welcomed you back and so many of us out there can’t wait to see you skate again. Have you had any interest from any other companies now that you’ve started travelling again?
Nothing that I know about. Flip were there, then KR3W brought me back on after I got out of prison but other than that I don’t know. Obviously I have to think of how I can make some money again so I can live! It’s good that KR3W are making shoes!
Could you see yourself skating in those? They’re a bit off-the-board style for most I’m sure…
I could! I could definitely skate those shoes! No one is really on KR3W Shoes or anything, it’s still just KR3W. It’s a really great thing to be a part of.
Well the music is starting to get going properly now so we better let you get back to the launch… Thanks for your time Ali, we hope the operation goes well and you’re back on the board soon!
(Ali makes a typically stylish and nonchalant wave of ‘no problem’ and is swiftly joined by Amanda who jovially rouses him out of the swish leather chair hair and whisks him upstairs back into the night.)