Although she grew up with the boxing legend Muhammad Ali, Laila Ali wasn’t interested in sports in childhood. However, as she grew up, all that changed.
“I actually did not even think about becoming not only an athlete, but a boxer until I saw women’s boxing on television for the first time when I was about 19 years old,” Laila shared in an exclusive interview from “Shop Today With Jill Martin,” shared by E! Online.
“I was in awe and I couldn’t believe that I didn’t know that it was an opportunity available to me. That’s when I first got the idea to become a professional boxer.”
However, when her father got wind of her interest, he wasn’t thrilled to hear that his daughter was towing in his footsteps.
He understood, from experience, how dangerous boxing could be and didn’t want his daughter to get hurt by some of the prolonged impacts of the violent sport.
“My dad was not happy about it,” Laila recalled to Jill Martin. “He literally tried to talk me out of it. I had to prove him wrong. ‘Dad, I can understand why you feel that way, but just watch me.'”
Her Father Muhammad Ali, Shaped The Way She Viewed The World
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As a child, Laila took a long time to understand what was so special about her father. Anytime they went out in public, a horde of people usually surrounded them.
“He’d stop traffic. I don’t know any other different father, other than Muhammad Ali, so for me it’s almost like imagine having Superman as your dad. It’s just like, ‘Oh, okay. He goes out and saves the world. He can fly. It’s just what he does,'” explained Laila to People
However, this changed how she viewed the world and looked at others.
“It’s like, What are you doing to change the world? How are you using your platform to make a difference? Are you uplifting other people? Are you a good role model to children? All those things are so important to me, and I think it’s because of the example that my dad set and that foundation that he laid. It definitely makes me want to strive for excellence. And it just gives me a rich sense of pride like, ‘Oh, wow, we have the same DNA.'”
Laila Ali’s Streaks Of Achievement
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From 1997 to 2007, Laila had the biggest name in women’s boxing. This couldn’t be chalked up to her boxer father because she clinched every award and won match after match, round after round, and title after title.
Laila defended and won multiple awards throughout her career, including WIBA, IWBF, and IBA super-middleweight titles. She also won the light heavyweight awards.
After winning for most of her career, fans of the heavyweight champion begged her to fight against Joe Frazier’s daughter, Jacqui Frazier-Lyde. Both women agreed to fight, recreating the same hype around their fathers in the 1970s.
Despite leaving the ring with a broken collar bone and a bloody nose, Laila added another feather to her cap of victory.
Eventually, her father had to concede that he was wrong. She received the respect and support of her dad, one of the greatest heavyweight champions of all time. “He apologized and said, ‘I was wrong. You were right. You can fight and women can fight and I’m proud of you,'” Laila recalled. “Of course, that warmed my heart.”
When she retired in 2007, she imprinted herself as one of the all-time best female boxers with an undefeated and flawless 24-0 record.
About The Exclusive Laila ‘At Home’ Collection
Earlier in the year, the Home Décor superstore “At Home” announced that it had partnered with world-class athlete, author, health and wellness advocate, and TV personality Laila Ali.
The collaboration, which came as a first for Ali, featured designer looks for less than the normal price.
“Laila has brought together the mindset of a world champion athlete and her passion for modern living to create her first lifestyle collection exclusively with At Home,” Chief Merchandising Officer for At Home, Chad Stauffer, explained. “This collection is chic, boldly feminine and impeccably curated. Customers can get elevated designs and a luxurious look at a great price.”
The athlete was actively involved in the collection’s elements, such as the color, patterns, and prints for each item. She also incorporated her famous butterfly, drawn from her father’s famous quote–”Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.”
Laila also worked with merchants at At Home to develop clean kitchen utensils at an affordable price and natural stone serving pieces and high-quality marble perfect for entertainment.
What Inspired Laila’s Exclusive Collection?
The collection was inspired by Laila’s modern features and aesthetics, which created an environment that built memories with friends and family. The color hues and neutrals were pulled from Laila’s wardrobe and designed with families and working moms in mind.
“I’m all about encouraging people to be the greatest version of themselves by living their healthiest lifestyle,” said Ali. “Now more than ever, Home is a sanctuary, and I collaborated with the At Home creative and merchant teams to help customers create a place to recharge and refresh. This line is modern and refined, yet still inviting and comfortable.”