Recalling her initial struggle, Ali said people “couldn’t fathom the fact that I was a woman, a pretty woman, who wanted to fight”.
Being the daughter of one of the world’s greatest boxers is not easy and to follow her father’s footsteps to the rings and adopt boxing as a sport is even more difficult. Laila Ali has been through this and is now recalling her journey as the undefeated champion.
Ali, who was into professional boxing between 1999 and 2007, has revealed that she struggled with the common misconception that beautiful people cannot take hardcore sports. Many used to tell her that “‘you don’t look like someone who should be a boxer; you’re too pretty to box. Why don’t you just model?'” she told the website.
“Forget the fact that the same blood is running through me; they couldn’t fathom the fact that I was a woman, a pretty woman, who wanted to fight. I think because of the spotlight, because of my last name, many women judged me or assumed that I was going to be easier to fight,” she added.
The 39-year-old, also revealed being the daughter of a global icon put plenty of pressure on her to perform well, even though she remained undefeated through her 24 fights.
“Well, I had the double or triple whammy that my father, being the greatest boxer of all time, coming behind him there would be a lot of comparisons to him. Then the fact that I’m a woman when people weren’t even aware that women boxed.”
The former sportsperson, who is now a chef author guiding her fans to live a healthy life with soul foods, reveals that the orthodox thoughts did not deter her from her dreams to be a boxer.
“A lot of people gave me a lot of reasons why I shouldn’t get into the ring – they said “women shouldn’t box” and I just started a business of my own and was expected to head in that direction,” she explained.
Despite the hindrances, Laila rose to fame, not only as the daughter of the boxing legend, but also as an ace boxer and won the IBA Female Super Middleweight title, IWBF Female Light Heavyweight title and WBC World Super Middleweight title during her career.
In 2012, she received the AOCA Awakening Outstanding Contribution Award in acknowledgement of her achievements as boxer.
Laila, the chef author, credits her father for her love for food and her alternative career. “I don’t remember my dad ever cooking — just eating. He loved soul food, so he loved the greens, the cornbread stuffing, the baked chicken,” she told People in a separate interview.