Biography

As the daughter of one of the most famous boxers in history, Laila Ali already had a lot to live up to in terms of general success -- let alone success as a boxer. Nonetheless, the child of World Heavyweight Champion Muhammad Ali and his wife Veronica Porsche Ali entered the world of professional women's boxing in 1999 at the age of 21, knocking out opponent April Fowler in the first round. The impressive debut was no fluke: Ali went on to win eight more fights in a row, beat Jackie Frazier-Lyde (daughter of boxing champ Joe Frazier) in 2001 in the first-ever all women's Pay Per View main event, win the IBA title, and win the WIBA and IWBF titles in a single fight, as they were both held by Valerie Mahfood, whom Ali beat in a knockout after eight rounds. The second-generation boxing champion hadn't always intended to follow in her father's footsteps. On the contrary, Ali had a degree in business management from Santa Monica College and was the owner and operator of an upscale nail salon in Southern California when she saw a boxing match on TV and instantly felt drawn to the sport. The risk she took in selling her business to train for such a drastic career change turned out to be well worth it, but even as Ali found more success in the ring she continued to pursue new projects. She appeared in the 2006 sports drama All You've Got, and in 2007 she made what many didn't realize was a natural transition onto the dance floor, joining the ranks of Dancing with the Stars. The delicate foot coordination that a boxer uses to shift and maintain balance made her a strong contender, and audiences loved her, voting to keep she and her partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy on the show for many weeks; they ended up coming in third place. Ali would continue to appear on screen in the coming years, most notably as the host of the series Everyday Health. ~ Cammila Collar, Rovi