Laila Ali, daughter of boxing legend Muhammad Ali, reveals the inspiration behind her boxing career—and, surprisingly, her father had nothing to do with it.
In an interview with Oprah: Where Are They Now? the athlete admits that her father’s career was not what influenced her own.
“I actually didn’t have the idea to even step into the ring until I saw women’s boxing on television for the first time,” Ali says. “I mean, they walked out of the ring with blood all over them and everything, and I was like, ‘That’s for me! I want to do that.'”
Ali recounts how after being inspired by the representation of these female athletes, she quietly began training,
“So I started training after school, after work, every night. And of course, it got around. I mean, Muhammad Ali’s daughter’s in the gym. People are asking me, ‘Are you going to fight?’ and I’m like, ‘No, I’m just trying to lose weight,'” Ali remembers saying.
Word got around to her father, who confronted her about it. “He says, ‘are you fighting?’ And I say ‘yes it’s true.’ Of course, he did everything he could to try and talk me out of it indirectly, but it didn’t work,” says the undefeated former boxer.