Lila Ali goes pro

On October 8, 1999, Laila Ali, daughter of the legend Mohammad Ali made her professional debut at the Turning Stone Casino on the Oneida Indian Nation in Verona, New York.

Ali’s opponent, April Fowler was participating in her second professional fight and lasted 31 seconds in the ring. The matchup was not set up to demonstrate Ali’s skill level. Fowler was out of shape and had less experience than her big name opponent.

A fight consisting of two inexperienced boxers does not normally grab the attention of anyone but the local press, but the Ali family name captivated 3000 live viewers alongside media outlets from all over the world.

Ali’s career lasted eight years. She faced off against the best female boxers including Jacqui Frazier-Lyde, the daughter of Joe Frazier. Ali-Frazier IV was a ‘generational grudge match; featuring a 23-year-old Ali and a 39-year-old Frazier. It took eight rounds for the judges to name Ali the winner. Surprisingly, only 300 press passes were distributed for the match, two thirds the amount of passes given out for women’s NCAA Final Four Games. The arena was only able to seat 8000.

Ali is now married to retired National Football League player Curtis Conway. They have two children, their son Curtis Muhammad was born in 2010 and their daughter Sydney was born in 2011.


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