Laila Ali is a professional boxer and daughter of legend Muhammad Ali. Since her retirement, she’s been a contestant on “Dancing with the Stars,” “Chopped” and host of “American Gladiators,” among other projects.
Laila Ali is Muhammad Ali’s eighth of his nine kids, and his youngest daughter. When she told her dad about her choice of profession, he was not happy at first, but came around to support her decision. She said, “I saw women’s boxing for the first time when I was 18. I didn’t really know that it existed until then…a couple years later I decided to go ahead and start training. It’s in my blood.”
Related: The 50 Hottest Women From Florida.
Before boxing, she admitted, “I wasn’t in shape at all…I wasn’t an athlete…I would go to the gym for a month and stop.” Clearly, she stepped up her game when she trained, and of her total 24 boxing fights, she won all 24, 21 of them by KO.
Her most memorable time in the ring was her fight with Jackie Frazier, Joe Frazier’s daughter. “The fight was much tougher than I expected. There was so much energy from the crowd – both Frazier and Ali fans were going crazy. Both of us were fighting our hearts out.”
Growing up, Laila Ali was a manicurist at the age of 16 and graduated from California’s Santa Monica College with a business degree. She said she often felt isolated due to her parents’ fame, though she said in a separate interview, “I just grew up around people who had a lot of confidence and drive, and I have the same. Any pressure on me comes from myself.” Before getting into boxing, she owned a nail salon.
She’s also the co-author of the book “Reach! Finding Strength, Spirit and Personal Power.” She wrote the book to inspire young women, but added, “a lot of people don’t understand why I box, why I would want to box, and what type of person you have to be on the inside to want to be a fighter.”
As for her dad, Laila Ali said, “It’s not like I see him as this larger-than-life person, he’s still just dad to me.”
As for image in the media, she said, “I don’t get caught up in my own hype. I feel that the fact that I was a fighter makes me seem prettier than I actually am because people don’t expect a “fighter” to be attractive. There are lots of pretty girls out there…but none that can knock you out!”
Laila Ali is married to former NFL player Curtis Conway, and they have two children. As for being a mother versus boxing, she said, “Boxing was a piece of cake. Being a mother is the most challenging and rewarding thing I’ve ever done.”