What a fun walk down memory lane! During a recent interview with Closer Weekly, Laila Ali exclusively revealed the best day of her life was when she won her first championship title as a professional boxer back in 2002.
“I entered boxing saying I wanted to be an undefeated world champion. So to fight [Suzy Taylor] for the first time and take that belt, by stopping her in the second round, was amazing,” the 39-year-old athlete told Closer at the Third Annual Sports Humanitarian Awards in July.
Laila winning her first championship boxing title in 2002.
Laila took home her first championship title 15 years ago during the IBA Super Middleweight Championship match in Las Vegas. “I didn’t want to let the belt go — and I never did!” she told Closer of holding on to her coveted award. After working for eight years as a professional boxer, the mom-of-two officially retired undefeated from the sport in 2007. Throughout her career, Laila won the WBC, WIBA, IWBF, and IBA female super middleweight titles, and the IWBF light heavyweight title.
The athlete, of course, developed her love of boxing from her late father, legendary boxing champion Muhammad Ali, who sadly passed away at age 74 in June 2016. On the one-year anniversary of her famous dad’s death, Laila exclusively opened up to Closer about her beloved father.
Laila with her late dad.
“He’ll never be forgotten. People come up to me every day to talk about my father,” she told us at the Big Fighters, Big Cause Charity Boxing Night in California in June. “I miss him but find comfort in knowing that he’s in a better place now.”
“My father, no matter where he would go, he would bring people to tears… so I wasn’t really surprised by the outpouring that there was when he passed away. But it was appreciated that people cared so much,” she also told Essence at the time.
For more on Laila pick up the new issue of Closer Weekly, on newsstands now — and sign up for our newsletter!