When you hear or read the name Ali, you would probably think instantly of the boxer Ali. Ali is synonymous to the greatest American boxer of all time. Muhammad Ali or Cassius Marcellus Clay was born on 17 January 1942 in Louisville, Kentucky to parents of modest circumstance. He started boxing in junior high, when he learned boxing from a policeman at a local gym. By the time that Ali had reached high school, he had already made up his mind to be a prizefighter. His dream was to be part of the U.S. Olympic Boxing Team. As an amateur boxer, Ali attracted attention in 1960 by winning the Amateur Athletic Union light heavyweight and Golden Gloves heavyweight championships. At the Rome Olympics in 1960, Ali crushed his opponents to win a gold medal in the light heavyweight division.
Famous for his flamboyant manner, his boasting predictions of which round he would defeat his opponent, and his famous verse “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee”, he was also recognized as one of the all-time great boxers with his quick jab and footwork. His slogan “I am the greatest” became a catch phrase. He closed his boxing career in 1981 with a remarkable record of 56 wins, five losses, with 37 knockouts, before retiring in 1981. The following year, Ali was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease is a debilitating disorder of the central nervous system that is characterized by the impairment of speech and motor skills.
Despite his deteriorating physical condition, he was honored as an athlete by allowing him to carry the torch to light the pyre that officially started the 1996 Olympic Games Atlanta, Georgia, USA. In addition to his professional and social achievements, Ali also starred in a film biography released in 1977 and entitled The Greatest. He had also been the subject of several documentaries, most notably the Oscar Award-winning, When We Were Kings which was released in 1996.
Aside from becoming a sports legend, Ali also became a virtual brand name and a commercial success. Ali is the first boxer to appear on a box of Wheaties, He has led a record-breaking and history-making career, one which gives him every reason to proclaim himself, “The Greatest.”
Ali presently lives with his fourth wife, Yolanda, in Berrien Springs, Michigan. The father of 9 children, one named Laila also pursued a boxing career, while another child named Khaliah came to media’s attention not for her boxing fights but for her bouts with obesity. Khaliah Ali is also an Emmy-nominated talk show host and has won the Pennsylvania Broadcaster’s Award. She has also contributed to more than two dozen charities over the years. Growing up proved to be difficult since she was always subjected to verbal abuse and ridicule. In school, people would always her people talking behind her back by saying, “Look at that fat girl… she’s Muhammad Ali’s daughter.” At age 9, she was put on the Today Show with Jane Pauley for an episode about overweight kids. She felt ugly and experienced depression because of her weight. When she was 26, she had already hit a potentially fatal body weight of 335 pounds. Over the years, Khaliah tried using various diet pills but to no avail. After trying out several prescriptions, she finally discovered the Lap-Band System of weight loss. The name Lap-Band comes from the Laparoscopic Gastric Band and Laparoscopy, a surgical technique that makes use of the said medical band. During laparoscopy, the surgeon makes a few incisions in the abdominal wall and inserts narrow, hollow tubes. Extremely small and thin instruments are then passed through the tubes. The instruments include a microscopic camera that sends video to a monitor that is used by the surgeon to see inside the abdomen. This technique is the least invasive of all weight loss surgeries and has the least risk of complications. The system includes an adjustable silicon elastomer band that is surgically placed around the stomach. The band induces weight loss by restricting food intake; when eating less, your body draws from its own fat to get the energy it needs. It is the only FDA-approved adjustable gastric band for use in weight reduction for severely obese adults.
In 2004, tipping the scales at more than 270 pounds, Khaliahh Ali fought back with the help of the Lap-Band System procedure and ended her battle with obesity. Now 155 lbs. and a paid promoter of the Lap-Band System, Ali sees a doctor for twice-yearly adjustments that include saline injections that tighten the band. She is also now working to earn her certificate in physical fitness. Aside from following a very strict eating and fitness regimen, she also began a campaign for obesity health education. She was motivated to engage in such an advocacy partly due to the fact that she lost two friends to obesity, both of whom were under 40 when they died.
With her Moment of Truth campaign (www.momentoftruth.org), Khalia shares her moments of truth about her own struggles with obesity. Like Khalia, many individuals fall into the endless cycle of using popular weight loss diet pills and getting back all the weight they lost whenever they go back to an eating binge. In a recent interview, Khaliah said that she believes that many women need to be empowered and educated about weight-loss procedures.
Like her father, who is said to be the “greatest” and adored by millions of fans around the world. Khaliah, is now a source of inspiration and considered by overweight women as a champ in her own right.