Laila Ali Says Father Didn’t Make Her Become a Boxer

Last Thursday, undefeated champion boxer Laila Ali came to Bunker Hill Community College as a part of their Compelling Conversations series to speak to a packed out auditorium about health and wellness.

In the beginning, she talked about being a entrepreneur and how she started her own nail salon business to move out of the house. By the age of 21 she had her own full fledged business, which she maintained while attending community college courses.

We were surprised to learn that  she didn’t take up boxing because of her father. “He never had us in the gym. I didn’t put on his gloves and do rounds. Never. I knew [being] a boxer was his job, but he was my father. I didn’t know Muhammad Ali the boxer.”

Laila was already a tough girl, getting into fights, and when she learned that women could do it — and get paid, she thought that would be the ideal career for her.

When she started out, her athletic ability was low; she was overweight by 20 lbs. Despite this,  within a year of training, she was able to compete professionally.  Through the process of becoming a boxer she learned a lot. She says, “I learned how to run. I started out with the walk run. I learned how to push past pain. I learned how to let people go. I learned how to be healthy…When you learn why to be healthy then you want to be healthy.”

The thing I liked most about her talk was the way she tried to relate to the audience with a no nonsense attitude. When cellphones went off during the talk she talked directly with the person, “You’re killing me…” And was very direct with people who asked about advice to maintaining their health while taking care of a child as  a single mother. She said, “People have done it. A lot of people have been in your same position and have done it. You’re already doing it, you’re in school, so keep on pushing. A lot of people have it worse off than you, so you should be grateful.”

When asked about what her upcoming projects were, she let us know that she had a strong interest in the culinary arts, and even had been taking classes. “You’ll be seeing me on the Food Network soon.” So we’ll certainly be looking out for that!

After the talk they had a reception where attendees could get an autograph with the champ.

Fab! event Bunker Hill!