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Years Before Muhammad Ali’s Death, Daughter Laila Ali Remained Brutally Honest When Asked Whether She’d Suffer Same Fate as Her Ailing Father: “I Was Definitely Aware of Things That Can Happen”

Published 04/11/2023, 7:30 AM EDT

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Boxing is a sport that is known for its intensity and physicality, but it also carries with it the risk of serious injury. Former heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali suffered from various brain injuries towards the end of his life which could mainly be attributed to his boxing career.

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Despite this, his daughter and former female super middleweight champion Laila Ali was able to avoid brain injuries. However, she has never been the one to ignore the risk that comes with the sport. In addition, she made a brutally honest revelation when asked if she could have suffered the same fate as her father.

Laila Ali reflects on the risk of brain injuries in combat sports


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In an interview with the Wall Street Journal back in 2o14, ‘She Bee Stingin’ spoke candidly about her awareness of the potential risks and dangers that boxers face. She also acknowledged that when she was fighting, she wasn’t concerned about the risks, but was definitely aware of them. Fortunately, she remained unscathed throughout her career, but not all fighters can say the same.

When I was fighting, no I wasn’t concerned about that. I mean, I don’t think that you can be an athlete in a contact sport such as boxing and be worried, but definitely I was definitely aware of things that can happen. Luckily, I’m unscathed. You know, I’m an undefeated four-time world champion, knockout. But I can’t say that all fighters can say that,” she said.


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The risks of brain injuries and CTE in boxing have been well-documented. Muhammad Ali suffered from Parkinson’s disease, which was likely caused by the repeated blows he sustained during his boxing career. Moreover, Laila Ali has been vocal about the importance of taking care of one’s health, especially after retiring from boxing.

Did boxing cause Muhammad Ali’s Parkinson’s disease?

There have been many discussions surrounding Ali’s death in 2016 and the majority of his later life. The former heavyweight champion suffered from Parkinson’s disease in the latter half of his life making him wheelchair-bound. Although there have been many theories about what caused it, neurologists believe it is hard to exactly point out what caused it. However, Todd Sherer, the chief executive of the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research revealed that repeated blows to the head did increase the risk, as reported by Statnews.

“It’s very hard to point in almost any individual case to what’s causing the Parkinson’s. But there’s pretty convincing data that head injury can increase your risk for developing the disease,” he said.


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The potential risks and dangers of boxing serve as a reminder that the sport can come at a cost. While many boxers are willing to take that risk, it’s important to be aware of the potential long-term consequences. Moreover, the sport also needs further research into the link between head trauma and Parkinson’s disease. This is to better protect athletes from the risks of head injuries in contact sports.


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What did you think about Laila Ali being brutally honest about the dangers of boxing? Additionally, what is the worst combat sports injury you’ve seen? Let us know in the comments below.

Watch This Story: When the daughter of The Greatest shared her side of the family story

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Written by:

Sahil Sood


One take at a time

Sahil Sood is a Boxing writer at EssentiallySports, who specializes in covering live events and core sports. Sahil holds a Bachelor's degree in Journalism and Mass Communication and has authored over 1300 articles at EssentiallySports. His coverage of Sylvester Stallone's training with Earnie Shavers was widely praised for its depth and insight.
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Edited by:

Shibu Immanuel