Brainiac Interview: Laila Ali

Photo courtesy of Laila AliPhoto courtesy of Laila Ali
The Boston Globe
April 1, 2017
By Megan Johnson

The champion boxer and author will deliver the keynote speech at “Game Changers: Sports, Gender, and Society” on April 7 at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University. She’s the daughter of legendary fighter Muhammad Ali and the host of “Laila Ali Lifestyle” on PodcastOne. We picked her brain about gender in boxing, and about the ups and downs of family fame. This transcript is condensed and edited:

Ideas: Do women and men punch differently?

Ali: No, I think all fighters punch differently, whether you’re a man or a woman. It’s like everyone has different handwriting.

Ideas: Are female boxers taken seriously?

Ali: Women’s boxing isn’t really promoted or televised. But when you see women boxing, especially talented women, [fans] take them seriously. If you see two people fighting, and they’re fighting well, you forget if they’re men or women.

Ideas: Your father wasn’t thrilled when you announced you would box. What happened?

Ali: He didn’t want me to get hurt, and he didn’t want anyone to come behind him and tarnish his legacy. But then he was like, “Man, girl, you can fight.”

Ideas: You’ve been on reality TV — “Dancing with the Stars” and “Celebrity Apprentice.” What did that teach you about life?

Ali: I didn’t really learn much about life.

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