Laila Ali: Like A Boss - Where Passion Meets Purpose

By Anna Griffin, Editor in Chief

Photo Credit: Allen Cooley

You might think that being a child of an international legend, one of the most significant figures of the 20th century and one of the greatest boxers of all time, would automatically garner an easy ride to success. Coming from a background as privileged as that of course has its perks, but like anything in life, success isn’t guaranteed and only hard work coupled with a motivated mindset, can bring dreams to fruition.

Photo Credit: Matt Armendariz

For Laila Ali, a four-time undefeated boxing World Champion, health & wellness advocate, entrepreneur, author and TV personality, independence and drive have taken her beyond her lineage. With consistent determination and a clear plan, Ali has carved a career for herself; one that is of her own making, fueled by her passion for wellness and helping others.

Entrepreneurship isn’t a new endeavor for her, founding her own business before she ever entered a boxing ring. “I’ve always been ambitious, and I’ve always decided what I wanted and created a plan. When I was as young as 15 I told my Mom that I wanted to move out of the house when I was 18, and I wanted to go to school full-time and I wanted to work.”

Photo Credit: Laila Ali - on the beach

Ali persevered and soon discovered she could study full-time, by learning to be a manicurist and earning her cosmetology license. Taking the bus to the other side of town to get to school, she went to “school” after class to learn how to do nails, and by the time she was 18 she had her own business, Laila’s Nail Studio, in Marina Del Rey, CA. Quickly amassing a full clientele, Ali was living on her own, loving the freedom to be creative and make her own life, when she discovered boxing, “When I first saw women’s boxing on television, I was about 17 years old and that’s when I got the idea to box myself. Most people assume that it was me just following in my father’s footsteps. It’s funny because when I was young, I didn’t feel it had anything to do with him, of course not knowing any better. It was in my blood, obviously, but I am the only one out of his nine children that became a boxer, so it’s more than just being in my blood,” she says. “I had this desire that was awoken in me and I went after it. There were a lot of naysayers, including my father who didn’t want me to do it. He said, “It’s not for you. It’s too hard. It’s not for women,” and that’s because he was scared, he didn’t know. It was a man’s sport and he didn’t want his daughter in this grimy gym, so I thought. I’m going to show you Dad, I respect how you feel, but this is my life and I’m going to make it happen,” Ali tells us.

Photo Credit: Laila Ali

With hard work and determination, she found unparalleled success, making her father proud, “Of course later when I became a World Champion, he apologized, recognized he was wrong – not only about me, but about women – and it was powerful to me to change “the Greatest of All Time’s” view of women and the limits that we sometimes put on them, on us in our minds. I became an undefeated boxing champion: Four wins, zero losses, and 21 of them by knockout – four Championship belts, and now I’m an advocate for living a healthy lifestyle.”

Photo Credit: Laila Ali Lifestyle

Finding a renewed focus, Ali’s business experience inspired her to create her lifestyle brand after her boxing career. “Laila Ali Lifestyle is something I started probably about 10 years ago, and came out of my passion for encouraging people to be the best versions of themselves through their health, their mindset and their purpose,” she says.

With a content-rich website, Laila Ali Lifestyle is a platform of inspiration, motivation, blog articles, recipes and her storefront. “Anyone can go to my website and sign up for my free Replenish series, which goes through these steps to get you started, and there is a wealth of information there through my blog with easy tips and tools,” she says. “What I try to do is meet people where they’re at when it comes to health. You want to start people in the right direction without them feeling overwhelmed . . . What can we add to what we’re already doing, as opposed to focusing on what needs to be taken away? That’s what I try to do and that is what Laila Ali Lifestyle is all about.” 

Photo Credit: Allen Cooley