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Laila Ali, an athlete and champion of health and fitness, is a perfect role model for today’s healthy, on-the-go woman. The youngest daughter of Veronica Porsche Anderson, and of the legendary Muhammad Ali, she is a strong, intelligent, woman, daughter, and wife. Equally as important, Laila possesses a unique blend of personality and celebrity status, yet retains an innate sense of being “every woman.”
While Laila has undoubtedly been the major draw in professional women’s athletics for years, she took on a new challenge, when she strut her stuff in front of nearly 40 million people every week on ABC’s hit show, Dancing With The Stars. A glamorous and elegant Laila surprised everyone and charged into the finals, as viewers were able to get a sense of her humor, her feminism, her genuineness, and her beauty.
Laila’s tremendous global popularity on the dance-floor and in the ring has led to numerous marketing opportunities. She was featured in adidas’ “Impossible is Nothing” campaign alongside soccer phenom David Beckham, in Vaseline Intensive Care Lotion’s “Skin is Amazing” campaign with the likes of Hillary Duff, Minnie Driver and Dave Navarro, and is currently appearing in a national campaign for DOVE. She also partnered with Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula for their line of Mother/Baby products geared towards maintaining beautiful skin during pregnancy. Laila’s personal background as a licensed manicurist, and her past work with skin care companies, has led Laila to launch her own line of beauty and personal care products, “Laila by Laila Ali”. The multi-SKU product line will be in department stores and specialty retailers nationwide in June 2010.
Fitness is another important component of Laila’s life. Her attention to an overall healthy lifestyle has rendered her an expert in this field. Currently, Laila is featured in Subway’s national “eat fresh” campaign advising expectant and new mothers to maintain a healthy lifestyle, as well as Subways upcoming new campaign, “Famous Footlong Fans,” supporting Subway’s $5 Footlong promotion. Additionally, Laila is the second person to ever appear in the famous MILK Mustache campaign three times. Never one to stray from her passion, Laila has conveyed her commitment to health and wellness through multiple television platforms, as the host of “Student Body” on The N Network, a show that followed a group of teens as they attempted to change their own lives-from diet and exercise to volunteering and academics, as she co-hosted NBC’s “American Gladiators” with Hulk Hogan, and as she formerly served as a regular correspondent on CBS’ The Early Show as its resident Health, Fitness, and Lifestyle expert. Active in the community, Laila is currently lending her support to Kroger’s health and wellness initiative, a 2,400-store, nationwide endeavor encouraging Kroger customers to lead healthy, active lives.
Laila also authored a motivational book titled Reach! She wrote the book in an effort to help young women who may need to be inspired in life; using her own experiences and challenges as an example for her readers. Laila, a multi-talented entrepreneur, owned and operated a nail salon in California before entering the boxing profession. She had earned her degree in Business Management at Santa Monica College, but after watching women’s boxing on television for the first time, she instantly wanted to step in the ring. About a year later, she sold her business and started training to become a professional boxer.
Laila made her professional boxing debut on October 8, 1999, and in a sign of things to come, she knocked out her opponent, April Fowler, 31 seconds into the 1st round. Laila retired from boxing as the undefeated Super Middleweight Boxing Champion of the world with a 24-0 record, with 21 knock-outs. In her last fight, on February 3rd, 2007, Laila knocked out her opponent, Gwendolyn O’Neal, in just 56 seconds. The bout, held in Johannesburg, South Africa, was attended by Nelson Mandela, a long time family friend.
Laila currently resides in Los Angeles, California, with her husband, former NFL star, Curtis Conway, and their son, Curtis Jr.
October 8, 1999 - Laila "She Bee Stingin’ " Ali (5'10", 166 lbs) made her ring debut at 21 years old against April Fowler of Michigan City, Indiana, at the Turning Stone Casino Convention Center on the Oneida Indian Nation in Verona, New York. Laila made fast work of Fowler, as she knocked her out in 31 seconds.
November 10, 1999 – Laila won her second professional bout againt Shadina Pennybaker by TKO with 3 seconds left in the match. The fight occurred at the Mountaineer Race Track in Chester, West Virginia. Pennybaker was making her own pro debut after going 2-1 as an amateur. Laila bloodied Pennybaker’s lip and forced a standing eight count in the fourth when she knocked Pennybaker’s mouthpiece out. A flurry of left-right combinations sent Pennybaker reeling into a corner and produced a stoppage of the fight.
December 10, 1999 – Laila again won by TKO, this time in the second round over 6’3” Nicolyn Armstrong, at the Cobo Center Riverfront Ballroom in Detroit, Michigan. Laila knocked Armstrong down late in the first round with a jab, followed by three hard rights. In the second round, Laila battered Armstrong in a corner then knocked her flat on her back. Referee Sam Williams stopped the bout immediately, awarding Laila the knockout.
March 7, 2000 – Laila (160 lbs) moved to 4-0 with 4 KO’s by knocking out Crystal Arcand (169 lbs) of St. Paul, Alberta, Canada at 1:10 in the first round at Casino Windsor in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. Arcand, a former Toughwoman competitor, was making her pro debut after going 5-0 in amateur action. Arcand came out swinging wildly, but Laila circled and landed a jab-uppercut combination that sent Arcand to the canvas after just 15 seconds. Arcand got up and Laila continued the attack, putting Arcand on the canvas again with a straight right to the head. Arcand got up to one knee but no further as she was counted out just 70 seconds into the bout.
April 8, 2000 – at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan, Laila (168 lbs) continued her dominance with a third-round TKO of Karen Bill (166 lbs) of Lawton, Oklahoma. Although Bill knocked Laila down with an uppercut in the second round, Laila showed she had come to fight by getting up and dominating the fight from that point on. In the third round, Laila bloodied Bill’s face and landed clean punches freely until the referee suddenly stopped the fight in Ali’s favor.
April 22, 2000 – Laila’s next career move took her to Tian He stadium in Guangzhou (Canton), China, where she appeared on the first major pro boxing card in China since the founding of the People’s Republic. Laila (165 lbs) capped several days of activity as a publicity magnet for the card by battering Kristina King (5’8″, 166 lbs) to a TKO 0:37 seconds into the fourth round. King, was a 30-year-old former Toughwoman contestant from Muskegon, Michigan, with a record of 20-0. However, she lacked the skills to handle Laila’s combinations and movement and work her way inside. She was rocked in the second round, then badly bloodied in the third round, when a booming right hand from Laila knocked out King’s mouthpiece. King was game to keep on fighting in the fourth, but Laila quickly had her in big trouble and the fight was stopped as Laila earned another TKO.
June 15, 2000 – Laila returned home to knock out Marjorie Jones (179 lbs) at the Universal Amphitheater in Los Angeles, California, at 1:08 of the first round. Laila knocked Jones down three times, the last with a right to the head.
October 20, 2000 – Laila advanced to 8-0 (7KO’s) at the Palace in Auburn Hills, Michigan, with a unanimous (58-56,58-56,60-54) six-round decision over another KO specialist, Kendra Lenhart, of Lenoir City, Tennessee. This was Laila’s first fight to go the distance, but Laila preserved as she took the final 3 rounds of the match.
March 2, 2001 – Laila improved her pro record to 9-0 (8 KO’s) at the Turning Stone Casino in Verona, New York, when she knocked out Christine Robinson of Lexington, South Carolina, with a barrage of rights and a left uppercut at 1:50 in the fifth round.
June 8, 2001 – The stage was set for a much-hyped Ali vs. Frazier IV generational “grudge match” that pitted Laila against Joe Frazier’s daughter, Jacqui Frazier-Lyde. This bout again attracted major media coverage, including being featured as the cover story in the week’s TV Guide (a first for women’s boxing). Ali-Frazier gave the fans their money’s worth, as Laila won the 8-round majority decision.
June 7, 2002 – after 1 year off for a shoulder surgery, Laila returned to the ring on June 7, 2002 at the DeSoto Civic Center in Southaven, Mississippi. Weighing in at 164 lbs, she cruised to a six-round unanimous decision over Shirvelle Williams (159 lbs) of St. Petersburg, Florida. Williams ate left-right combinations and jabs throughout the bout after Ali took charge in the opening round with several hard rights.
August 17, 2002 – at the Aladdin Hotel and Casino, in Las Vegas, Nevada, Laila (165½ lbs) won her first world title before a capacity crowd and a national PPV audience. Laila TKO’d Suzette Taylor (166 lbs) of Las Vegas at 1:11 in the second round to take the IBA Super Middleweight belt. Referee Kenny Bayless halted the scheduled 10-rounder after titleholder Taylor absorbed a barrage of unanswered punches. Laila showed good hand speed and her body punching had Taylor in trouble in the opening round. Laila frequently beat Taylor to the punch and showed a combination of speed and power that spoke volumes about her progress as a boxer.
November 8, 2002 – at the Stratosphere Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, Laila (167 lbs) won by a TKO at 1:14 in the eighth round over IWBF and WIBA Super Middleweight champion Valerie Mahfood (161 lbs) of Groves, Texas, in a triple title-unification bout. Laila dominated the Texan, as she took home the WIBA and the IWBF Super Middleweight belts, as well as her IBA belt. The match was carried live on ESPN2.
February 14, 2003 – at Louisville Gardens in Louisville, Kentucky, fighting in her dad’s original home town, Laila TKO’d former world champion Mary Ann Almager of Midland, Texas at 1:55 in the fourth round. June 21, 2003 – at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, Laila again stopped Valerie Mahfood, this time at 1:17 in the sixth round. In the sixth round, Ali shook up Mahfood with a right hand, had her opponent on the ropes, and then continued to smash Mahfood’s head back with hard rights, prompting referee David Mendoza to stop the bout.
August 23, 2003 – at Mississippi Coast Coliseum and Convention Center, Biloxi, Mississippi, Laila knocked out Christy Martin at 0:48 in the fourth round of a PPV Main Event. The scheduled ten-rounder was for Laila’s IBA Super Middleweight title. Martin charged out to start the fight, but Laila staggered Martin against the ropes near the end of the round, leaving Martin red and swollen under her left eye. Laila again rocked Martin early in the second, and knocked her down in the third with a string of quick hard uppercuts. Martin was dropped by a rapid-fire barrage of leather in the fourth and her husband/trainer Jim exhorted her to “stay down” and not try to beat the count, leading to Martin’s first loss by knockout.
July 17, 2004 – at Prince Georges Stadium in Bowie, Maryland, and televised live on Pay-Per-View, Laila successfully defended her IBA World Super Middleweight title by knocking out former Toughwoman champion Nikki Eplion of South Point, Ohio, at 1:30 in the fourth round. Laila’s boxing skills and aggressive style were too much for Eplion, who was game but could not compete with Ali’s mobility and power, despite stating in the pre-fight press conference that “I don’t think she [Ali] will have an answer for [my] big left hand.” Eplion began the fight aggressively, trying to land with that left, but her plan apparently went out the window when Laila walked past her punches and began landing lead rights. Eplion began going backwards and was backed against the ropes and into corners as Laila picked up her pace and ramped up the pressure on her with the crowd chanting, “Ali, Ali”. Eplion was knocked down four times in the third and fourth rounds and Laila was scoring hard right hands and short left uppercuts before referee Gary Camponeshi stopped the bout.
July 30, 2004 – before 17,000 fans at Freedom Hall in Louisville, Kentucky, Laila successfully defended her IWBF Super Middleweight belt by stopping Mónica Núñez of the Dominican Republic at 0:42 seconds in the ninth round. Laila had Núñez on the ropes when the challenger’s corner threw in the towel.
September 24, 2004 – at the Phillips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia, Laila won the IWBF Light Heavyweight title with a third-round knockout of Gwen O’Neil of Guyana. Laila began this fight letting O’Neil come to her while she blocked most of her punches with her gloves, a strategy reminiscent of her father’s “rope-a-dope” tactic against George Foreman. As O’Neil appeared to tire after just a minute of this, Laila began to respond with quick jabs and hard hooks to her body. She responded to a lazy jab by O’Neil midway through the second round by knocking her down with a counter right to the chin. O’Neil recovered quickly but the same scenario played out later in the round, putting O’Neil down for an eight count that left her still wobbly. Laila turned up the heat in the third as O’Neil looked increasingly desperate. Laila then dropped O’Neil in a neutral corner with another right to the jaw as the third round was ending. This time O’Neil sat stunned as she was counted out by referee Jim Korb.
February 11, 2005 – at the Phillips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia, 8,213 ringside fans and a live ESPN2 audience saw Laila defend her WIBA Super Middleweight title by TKO’ing Cassandra Geiggar of Arkansas at 1:13 in the eighth round of a scheduled ten-rounder. Laila worked the body against the bigger but over-matched Geiggar, and came out aggressively in the eighth dropping Geiggar to one knee beside the ropes.
June 11, 2005 – at the MCI Center in Washington, District Of Columbia, with her father among the 15,472 ringside fans, Laila TKO’d Erin Toughill of Huntington Beach, California, at 1:54 in the third round to win the newly-minted WBC Women’s Super Middleweight title. In the second round, Toughill sported a bloody (and broken) nose and the crowd began chanting, “Ali, Ali, Ali.” Laila had the faster hands, and Toughill was unable to mount a consistent attack, so Laila took charge. Though Laila used a jab occasionally to set up other punches, most of her damage was done with a stiff right hand that Toughill seemed unable to avoid. By the end of the second round, Toughill’s nose was bleeding profusely, and her corner was unable to stop it. Toughill started the third round more effectively but by the end of the round, Laila backed her into a corner throwing a barrage of combinations, landing about 15 unanswered punches to Toughill’s face. The bout was stopped when Toughill turned her back to her. The bout was a defense of Laila’s WIBA Super Middleweight belt and was carried live on Showtime pay-per-view. Laila improved her record to 21-0-0 (18 KOs).
December 17, 2005 – at Max Schmeling Halle in Berlin, Germany, a sell-out crowd of over 10,000 saw Laila defeat Asa Sandell of Sweden by a TKO at 1:51 seconds of the fifth round. After taking a delivering a hard right to Sandell :90 seconds into the fifth round, Laila took advantage of the opportunity and threw a barrage of combinations, backing Sandell up against the ropes and peppering her with more quick combos. Sandell looked winded and failed to defend herself, so the referee stopped the fight.
November 11, 2006 – at Madison Square Garden in New York City, Laila TKO’d Shelley Burton of Kalispell, Montana at 1:58 in the fourth round defending her WIBF and WBC Super Middleweight belts. Ali improved her record to 23-0 (20 KO’s).
February 3, 2007 – in Laila’s last fight, taking place at the Emperor’s Palace Casino in Johannesburg, South Africa, Laila stopped Gwendolyn O’Neil of Georgetown, Guyana, just 0:56 seconds into the first round of a scheduled ten-rounder for the WBC and WIBA Super Middleweight titles. Laila improved her record to 24-0 (21 KO’s).
Laila is undoubtedly one of the best and most recognized female fighters in the world today. Like her father, the 5’10″ Ali has quick feet, a stiff jab and natural self confidence.
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