- Muhammad Ali once told his fifth daughter Laila Ali not to box because the sport’s ‘not for women.’
- She obviously did not listen to him and went on to complete a Hall of Fame career.
- After her first fight though, her father told her he was wrong—and cried.
BOXING HALL OF FAME, CANASTOTA — Muhammad Ali once told his fifth daughter Laila Ali not to fight because boxing’s “not for women.”
She obviously did not listen to him.
Thirty-two years after her father was permanently enshrined into boxing’s Hall of Fame in Canastota, New York, Laila Ali will be enshrined, too.
Her induction is part of the modern women’s category having retired in 2007 with an undefeated pro boxing record of 24 wins and 21 knockouts.
Addressing a throng of fans Saturday on the lawns in front of boxing’s Hall of Fame, Laila Ali told an anecdote about her first fight — and how Muhammad Ali was happy to admit how wrong he was about her fighting and women’s boxing in general.
“He said, ‘Don’t do it, it’s not for you, it’s not for women, and people will fight you 10 times harder knowing you’re an Ali,” Laila said at the event Insider attended.
“But I said, ‘I’m going to do it, dad’.”
Muhammad Ali is the most famous boxer to have ever laced-up a pair of gloves. He scored iconic victories over the likes of Joe Frazier and George Foreman while transcending the sport because of his magnetic personality and his political activism from the 1960s onward.
Laila Ali’s first fight was a first-round knockout win in 1999 over April Fowler. It coincidentally was held at the Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona — the same venue Laila attends Sunday for her own induction ceremony.
Muhammad Ali was ringside for Laila’s bout.
After her thunderous finish, she said he told her: “I was wrong. You can fight, and women can fight, too.”
He then cried, she said. “He’s sensitive like that.”
She added: “He’s very proud that I didn’t listen to him.”
Ali enters the Hall of Fame as part of the 2021 class which includes Floyd Mayweather, Wladimir Klitschko, and Andre Ward.
Because of the pandemic, boxing’s Hall of Fame was put on pause from 2020 and so this weekend a historic trilogy of classes — from 2020 to 2022 — receive their flowers at the same time.
Other inductees include Juan Manuel Marquez, Bernard Hopkins, Holly Holm, Roy Jones Jr., and James Toney, among others.
On how she’ll want to be remembered and recognized, Laila Ali said: “When I think of myself, I think of confidence, perseverance, and I strive for excellence.
“There’s been some tough fights but what made them tough was my health — being in a relationship that wasn’t so great, or fighting with the flu.
“Watching fights back, I was like, ‘I was horrible,’ but I won.”
She continued: “I just want to be recognized for the work I put in.
“And for where the sport is today, to help other fighters today. It’s a dangerous sport. We love boxing, but it doesn’t love us back.
“So it’s important to give people the information they need to succeed even after they’re done with their boxing careers.”