Laila Ali On Her Dad's 'Evil Streak' In The Ring

Laila "wasn't that nice" either, she says.

Forget the pleasantries. When it was time to fight, boxing's Laila Ali was all business -- and her hardened approach inside the ring didn't earn her many allies.

That's what the retired fighter tells "Oprah: Where Are They Now?", acutely aware of what her opponents would all likely say about the type of boxer she was throughout her entire career.

"I wasn't that nice," Laila says. "Some fighters ... want to shake hands and they talk and they smile at each other. [I] was like, 'No. We're not friends. We're not cool. I'm going to find a reason to dislike you, just so I can get in there and handle my business."

Even now, nearly a decade after retiring, the undefeated champ remains unapologetic about her attitude.

"That combination that I had? It worked," she says. "I mean, my dad was the same way." 

Laila Ali with her father, Muhammad Ali, at the MCI Center in Washington, June 11, 2005.
Laila Ali with her father, Muhammad Ali, at the MCI Center in Washington, June 11, 2005.

As the daughter of the legendary Muhammad Ali, Laila grew up watching boxing matches. Though she says her father's career wasn't the reason she stepped into the ring herself, Laila admits that she did seem to share his tough spirit.

"He had [an] evil streak when he fought," Laila says, with a chuckle.

Muhammad Ali fought his last fight in 1981. He has been living with Parkinson's disease for the last three decades. Throughout his personal and professional battles, Laila has learned a lot from her father, but believes she didn't fully grasp the depth of his strength until his health took a turn.

"Most recently what I've learned from my father is just how strong he really is," Laila says. "Seeing him battling Parkinson's and he's still such a strong person every time that I'm around him, it's just like, wow."

"Oprah: Where Are They Now?" airs Saturdays at 10 p.m. ET on OWN.



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