Daddy’s Girl: Laila Ali Talks About Her Father’s Reaction To Her Wanting to Box
BY: John “Hennry” Harris
Much has been written about the relationship between a Father and his daughter.
Research shows that fathers affect the lives of their young adult daughters in intriguing and surprising ways. A daughter’s relationship with her father influences her academic performance, which in turn affects her career success and financial well-being. It also effects her future relationships with men, how they deal with stress, her mental health and in one study even shows that when a father and daughter participate in activities together, especially athletic activities, it draws them closer. (family-studies.org)
But what about if you are the daughter of an icon like Muhammad Ali ?
Laila, the eighth of his nine children and the youngest of Ali’s daughters, sat down with MSNBC for a great interview speaking on not only Muhammad Ali’s concern for her safety, but also not wanting her to come behind his legacy and embarrass him ! LOL
“I made it clear to him that I OK, I was a big girl, and I was ready to face whatever I had to in the ring as far as being hurt, or pain or things like that – and, uh that I wasn’t going to embarrass him.
“Once we had that conversation and we were like eye-to-eye, he supported me. There is always going to be people that try to hold you back from your dreams. You have to do what’s in your heart, because you only have one life to live, and if you go around listening to what everyone else says and you don’t listen to yourself then you are going to end up a very unhappy person.”
Al Sharpton, who is a family friend who known Ali since their teens, also attested to the concern Muhammad Ali had for Laila, but also acknowledged that like her father, she “defied a lot of the skeptics because she became a tremendous athlete and maintained her beauty and it was something I believe he became very proud of.”
Laila Ali began boxing at the age of 18 after watching Christy Martin box. At the time, Martin was said to be “the most successful and prominent female boxer in the United States” and was credited with being the one who “legitimized” women’s participation in boxing.
On October 8, 1999, Laila, 21, standing 5’10, 166 pounds, had her first match against April Fowler at the Turning Stone Resort & Casino on the Oneida Indian Nation in Verona, NY. Ali would knock out Fowler in the first round.
Laila Ali finished her career 24-0, with 21 wins by KO.
A daddy’s girl indeed.
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