Laila Ali on Turning Rebellion into Excellence | Impact Theory | Transcription
Transcription for the video titled "Laila Ali on Turning Rebellion into Excellence | Impact Theory".
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- Everybody, welcome to Impact Theory. You're here, my friends, because you believe, as I do, that human potential is nearly limitless, but you know that having potential is not the same as actually doing something with it. So our goal with this show and company is to introduce you to the people and ideas that will help you actually execute on your dreams. All right, today's guest is one of the most successful female athletes of all time, but her road to superstardom was a rocky one. Being born to a very famous father and having a very difficult childhood, turned her into a self-proclaimed rebel without a cause who lived like she was actively looking for trouble and surprise, surprise, she ultimately found it. But in this case, thank God, because it wasn't until she was sent to juvenile hall for shoplifting and spent months behind bars that she finally realized that if she was going to make her dreams a reality, she was going to have to get herself together and get herself together, she did. After seeing her first female boxing match, she realized in an instant that that was exactly what she wanted to do. And despite all the naysayers in the world, she decided to throw herself into boxing full-time, a decision that led to one of the most astonishing careers and professional boxing, regardless of gender. By the time she retired, she had racked up 24 wins and zero losses. She didn't just win, she dominated the sport, getting 21 of her victories by knockout and holding four world championship titles. She has so captured people's imaginations that post-boxing she has arguably been even more successful. She's been tapped to host or appear on numerous shows including American Gladiators, Dancing With The Stars, Celebrity Apprentice, Everyday Health, and Late Night Chef Fight. She won Celebrity Chop twice, impressing my wife, and now she set her sights on becoming the queen of healthy living. She has an upcoming cookbook due out fall of 2017 and she's launched her own Lifestyle Brand and Podcast, which is blowing up thanks to her roughly four million strong social following. So please, help me in welcoming the former president of the Women's Sports Foundation, the daughter of the greatest boxer of all time, the host of Leila Ali Lifestyle, none other than Leila Ali. - Thank you so much for being here. Thank you so much. - Oh man, truly, truly a pleasure.
Laila Ali'S Journey And Identity
What prompted you to become a Fighter? (02:30)
- That was a great introduction. - Thank you. The funny thing is I put more time and effort into the intro I think than anything else. It's my way of coming to really understand the person and the thing that surprised me. I didn't know how rebellious you were. - Yes, and I think a lot of people still don't because I wrote the book Reach, Finding, Strength, Spirit, and Personal Power back in 2002 when I first started my boxing career 'cause so many people were being naysayers, they didn't really understand where this spider came from. And I'm like, look, you can't judge a book by its cover. You never know what someone has been through. They just assumed, I'm a hominist daughter. I was like, oh, I wanna be a boxer like my dad and that's why I became a boxer. But ironically, it had nothing to do with the fact that my dad was a boxer. It was seeing women's boxing on television for the first time.
LAYLA'S CHILDHOOD: PRESSURES + PROBLEMS + PREDICAMENTS (03:12)
- Yeah, so I definitely made the assumption that you had become a boxer and that your dad was coaching you and that that was just a natural ascension for you. And how many, there's eight kids in your family? - I forget sometimes. There's nine of us total. - Wow. - That's not it. - Yes, and I have one sister that I grew up with, with the same mother. So we have the same parents, both parents. - But you're the only one that went into boxing? - Only one that went into boxing. I was the youngest girl. And of course, that was something my dad had to struggle with when he found out that I actually wanted to enter the story. - 'Cause he didn't want you to. - No, he didn't. And he didn't tell me not to when he found out. He pretty much heard through the grapevine. So the story is basically, as I wrote about in the book, I got into a lot of trouble growing up. I was hanging out with the wrong crowd. I had a really dysfunctional family. My parents divorced. My mom got remarried. She married a man who was abusive. I'm not physically but emotionally. And she started putting that on us, basically, and pretty much abandoned us as her kids. And we were just raising ourselves. Like I literally lived in the guest house and nobody woke me up to go to school. Nobody made sure that I had dinner. Nobody did any of that. It's kind of like you do your own thing. So I raised myself and I was upset and I was feeling bad, obviously, and angry at my mom.
LAYLAS STRUGGLE WITH HER IDENTITY + REBELLION (04:27)
And that coupled with the fact that I've always been very independent and kind of like headstrong, was kind of like, I don't want people to like me because my father's Muhammad Ali. So I would kind of stray away from our group of friends, our wealthy friends that we kind of grew up with and venture off into the wrong neighborhoods and end up around people, hey, let's go shoplifting. Okay, you know, I got money in my pocket but I'm gonna go with you. You're like, get it for free, sure. And then you get in trouble. And then that's how that whole thing started. And once I got into the system, then they start looking at your grades and they start looking at like, where is your mom? Like, does your mom know these friends you were with? No, you know, all these different things. And the judge luckily just thought, okay, this is Muhammad Ali's daughter. And her mom doesn't know what's going on. I mean, I'm gonna teach her a lesson without actually, he never sentenced me to time. He basically postponed my case and said, go, you know, come back and, you know, he said, go back, come back in two weeks. And I was just like, I thought my whole life was gonna end 'cause I went in there with this attitude, like, tell my friends, oh yeah, I'm going to court girl. I see you at the club tonight, you know, I thought I was grown and then he locked me up and that's when I became a child. Like, oh, mommy and I'm looking at my mom and she couldn't do anything. So I got locked up and I hear now from her, she said actually was the best thing that ever happened. She kind of felt like that's what I needed 'cause I was just kind of doing my own thing, disrespecting her, stealing her car, just doing what I wanted to do. And I came back two weeks later and, you know, that two weeks seemed like months and months and months and I came back and he left me at the court, you know, in the back room all day, didn't see my case, sent me back for another two weeks and I thought I was gonna die. And then he did that a few more times. And finally, when I came back, I was just like ready to just please just get me out of here. And that's when they sent me to a group home. And I was happy to go to a group home at that point 'cause having your freedom taken away is like unlike anything else you can possibly imagine. And I had to go to a group home and there was a program there with other girls and we had to sit in group and we had to talk about our problems. And, you know, they said, I said, well, 'cause I've always been a planner, you know, like this, you know, even though I was going through, I had these issues, there were positive things that I was doing. So I was really, you know, once I set my mind to something I can do, as I said, now how long was it gonna take to get out of here? What do I need to work on? And I'm keeping notes. Like, they were like, it's gonna take at least a year. I was like, I'm not gonna be here for a year. So I had got out the program in six months which no one had ever graduated that program. By the time I was done, they wanted me to come back and work there, you know. Yeah, so it was great. I mean, because I learned so much about these young girls that had problems way deeper than mine. And it just showed me, that's when I really learned to stop complaining and stop being mad about my situation because I actually did have friends and family and people around me that actually supported me and loved me regardless of what was going on at home. So it just really changed my outlook on life.
Losing 200 hours of school and how it impacted Leyla (07:20)
And I also wanted to grow up quickly. So that was a thing about myself I wrote about in the book and I went to school to learn how to do nails. I used to take the bus. I was doing really bad in school, getting bad grades. But then I'd take the bus way across town, into the hood to go to school to learn how to do nails. 'Cause I was like, I'm gonna move out this house 'cause I didn't like my home. And I was like, I wanna move out this house as soon as I can. - That was a promise you made your mom, right? - I did, yeah. 'Cause I asked her to emancipate me. I was like, you know, I found out you can emancipate me. There's some kids that live on their own and I did this research. She's like, "Layla, layla, layla." I was like, no, really. So that didn't work. So I was like, okay, as soon as I'm old enough. So I said, I'm gonna go to school. I'm gonna live on my own, pay my bills. And I was like, how can I go to school and pay my bills? I have to be in control of my schedule. So then I learned how to do nails. And so after I got out, sounds crazy now, saying after I was locked up, after I got back on track, I went and started building a clientele and had a nail salon. And that's what I was doing when I saw women's boxing for the first time in school, had a nail salon, which I built up on my own at the age of 18. And then I went a different direction with boxing. I know that was a mouthful. - I don't know. And I wanna belabor the point a little more because every story that you sort of touch on there, having read the book, I know how deep they go. Like for instance, and trying to get your degree, you end up losing like 200 hours because of a clerical error. But you sell the fortitude to keep taking the bus to get it done. Like, and I'm going to guess, and we'll get more into this later, but I'm gonna guess that those laid some of the foundation for a champion's mindset. - Definitely. - How did you cultivate that though? Like how did you not just get pissed off and quit? Which is I think what 99% of people do when they realize, okay I'm halfway there, no, I'm back at zero. - Well, I think that, and I never actually thought about that. I wrote the books so long ago, like now that I'm really grown, right, and have my own kids and really thought back to, you know, that situation, how at that age did I say, you know what, I spent all this time, 'cause it took a long time to get 200 hours and taking the bus across town. And trust me, nobody else in my family was taking the RTD. Okay, I don't even know, does the RTD even still around? I mean, is it called the RTD anymore? I don't know, but that was public transportation. Like my sister would never get on the bus. She would wait for my mom to drive her somewhere, okay? 'Cause remember, we lived in Malibu at a certain point, and all these beautiful places, and I'm a hominolized daughter on public transportation. So that should tell you something right there, I'm a little different, I didn't care. I was like, I need to get where I need to go, and I'm not waiting on my mom to take me, because a lot of times I would be let down. I'd be waiting, you say you're gonna take me somewhere, and you don't. So I learned at a very young age, like if you want it, you gotta go get it. So for me, when I found out that those hours were lost, because I wanted that license so badly, I was like, I'm just gonna have to do it again, there's no other choice. You know, if you want it, you gotta go get it. So I went to a different school, started over, and ended up at a better school with a better situation. So that's pretty much it. I mean, we can get into that deeper, but in the moment, I didn't think, like, of course, this is a champion mindset, it's just like, I want something, and I'm not going to let any roadblock that gets in the way stop me, I'm gonna get there regardless, so. - Yeah, I love that.
Leylas Book Laila AliREVEAL THE REAL YOU (10:20)
So the one thing that I wish for anybody watching this, do yourself a favor, normally I wait to the end, encourage people to really dive in, but I'm telling you, this is how you want to research Leila Ali, reader biography first. Now I had the great pleasure of not realizing that it was, had been written back in 2002. So when I'm reading it, I keep like, when is she gonna start talking about box? Which doesn't come until like literally, like the last, maybe eighth of the book or something. So I'm like, whoa, like I'm getting super deep, but you'd opened up saying, if I'm gonna tell you about me, I'm gonna tell you about me, like, no bullshit, no holds barred, like we're gonna really go in on this. It was so raw, so vulnerable, so unguarded.
Lailas RAW AND RADICAL (11:01)
So okay, now I'm in that world, you haven't even started talking about boxing yet, I realized there's very little left in the book to get into boxing, and then I realized, oh my God, like this was written a long time ago, so now I get to do this time warp. And so literally, I finished the book, I set it down, and then I start watching videos where I filtered by last year. So it was all stuff in the last, most of it was really three to six months, and you're a totally different person. And like, as unguarded as you were in the book, I could still feel you doing, like you were using the unguardedness as a way to like push people back to almost intimidate, if that makes sense. It was, you were so like strong, and now there's like this wonderful openness about you. Was that intentional? - I like the way you broke that down. So let me explain, and you're really, really on it. When I first started boxing, I felt like I had something to prove. One, I had to let people under, really get to know me, like first of all, because I don't, even till this day, I don't like when people attack my character, because the character is really important to me in having integrity. And when I first started boxing, people were like, oh, it's a publicity stunt. You know, she's just doing it to get attention, and it was totally not the case. And that irritated me, like why would I do that? Because that's just not the type of person that I am. In fact, as I wrote in the book, I didn't wanna be famous. That was part of why it took me so long it felt like so long. Now I look back, I was like, that wasn't that long. It took me like a year of contemplation, to get into it, but it felt like forever as a young person to make a decision to do something. And, you know, 'cause I didn't wanna live my life publicly. So that was an inner struggle. And then once it started happening, people were just like, oh, things are gonna be easier for her because of who she is. And I had to show people, I've been a fighter on my life, and I don't have any fear, 'cause since then in my career, I've had certain people call me, say that I won't fight them, and I'm afraid, and I've never been afraid of anybody. I wasn't afraid to stand up to my father when I said, I don't wanna be Muslim. When I said, you know, he said to the law, I shouldn't box, and women shouldn't box, and I said, I don't care what you think. I'm gonna do it anyway, and I'm gonna, you know, and it wasn't even about proving anything to him. It was just a matter of, I'm gonna do it regardless, and it really didn't matter to me what he thought. I didn't go to him to ask him for help, because, you know, the thing is, is that, even though that's my dad, my dad didn't raise me. My dad wasn't there for the most important parts of my life, because it's hard to be fighting the world, and be as great as he is, and be a present dad. So I'm not faulting him for that, but that's just the truth. So a lot of what I had to go through, when I was, you know, went through my molestation, my family, he didn't know about any of that. And part of it, I can't say that it's his fault, but it's like a lot of things, you just, he was getting sick, and you know, he had a lot going on, you don't wanna bother, bother your father with that.
Becoming Strong (13:37)
You know, so these are things that I had to deal with, you know, but as a child, you feel kind of abandoned by both parents. So that's something that I had to deal with, but I found a way to become strong, and I did my fighting, and I let my anger out in the ring, and these girls had no idea what I was unleashing on them, you know what I mean, and where, they had no idea, because before I get in that ring, like I used to look myself in the eye and say, okay, you're about to do this, and I would look deep within, and like I had no, there was no doubt in my mind, that I wasn't gonna win that fight, because I was bringing all this stuff to the ring, and you know, so like I said, we can get into that, but I don't even remember what the question was, why does one all up? - 'Cause you answered it, nonetheless, that was amazing. So what I was saying was that you are to me like this watchable transformation, like so often a transformation is told looking backwards, but because you've been living a relatively public life since you're about 18, you can follow that, and that was, it's so powerful, and I really encourage certainly young women to read the book, that's what I wrote it for. - Really. - Which is incredible, because I think if they really do that, and they take the time, you, there's a couple things I want them to take away from, one that you were super open, and yet still a confident, secure person who's gone on to be very successful, and most importantly, Laila, this is the thing that freaks me out about you in the most beautiful way possible, you're not bitter, like even in the book, and you're, I have the chills, you're detailing like what you went through with your mom, your father moves to Michigan, very much not a part of your life, you don't feel protected, you were molested, bad relationships, just negative things happening to you. And yet through it all, you're like, I don't judge my mom, and I have real love and warmth for her, and I'm in many ways a mother's girl, and it seems like you guys have rekindled the relationship. I mean, it's like, the whole time I'm reading, I'm like, how is she not just pissed all the time? - You know, I did go through my time when I was angry, 'cause I was in it, but then when I moved out of the household, I was able, 'cause my mom is a great person, she's a beautiful person inside and out, but I see her weakness as a woman, and she knows that, and trust me, that was hard to write that book, because I do love my mom, and I'm putting her business out there too, I'm putting my dad's business out there, and I didn't make a lot of money on that book, it wasn't for money, that was never the purpose, you know, it was just something that I needed to release, and it really was about me at the time, it was more selfish, like people need to understand me, and unfortunately, I'm gonna have to tell your story too, because that's a part of my story, and my mom was not happy about that book, because she was ashamed, and, you know, but I said, this is gonna help, this is a young girl telling her mom, mom, this is gonna help more people than it's gonna hurt, you know, and I'm sorry, but you made your bed, you gotta lay in it, and I've said that to my dad over the years too, about certain things, 'cause that's just how I feel, because I take responsibility for the things that I do, so that's for everybody, you know, ah, that's sad, but you did do that, and you did make those choices, so for me, like I said, it wasn't an easy thing to do, also, as far as my mom was concerned, but I thought that it was so important for people, and even now, like you said, I can reverse engineer, right, and go back and look at, it was great, I mean, like I said, I republish the book, and I had to read it again, 'cause I was afraid, it was weird, as an adult, to open it, you know, not because I don't know the story, just because I don't like watching myself on TV, I don't like listening to myself, and I didn't wanna read my book, but then when I went back in, you know, I had to update it and do certain things to it, and I was like, wow, you know, this is now as a mom, and just really looking at things differently, like having your daughter write the things that I wrote, even though they were true, you see things from a different perspective, but it's amazing to be able to go back and see, and I have always been that same real person. One thing about me is I'm honest, I put it out there, and it is what it is, but at the same time, you know, I have integrity, of course, I'm not gonna just throw people into the bus, but I have to tell the story, so. - It definitely felt like it was done in a respectful way, and it felt, it's like violence or nudity in a film, it's like there's gratuitous, and then there's okay, it's meaningful to the experience, and it all felt incredibly, it felt like a gift, like it felt like a real glimpse, 'cause you can tell people all day long, money is not the answer.
A Meaningful Glimpse (17:39)
- Of course.
The Answer (17:57)
- And people just, they don't believe it, but reading that book was like, wow, it really wasn't a solution, like it doesn't get more famous in your dad, not on a worldwide stage, I mean, there's precious few people that have had the kind of global impact that your father has. So, growing up on that stage with that kind of wealth, and to see that that wasn't the answer, that you still had to find your own path, but that you did carve that path, and I wanna talk about what you just brought up, which is responsibility, right, taking responsibility for what you do, and in the book, so above my fireplace, which you can't see is the infamous image of Jordan from the flu game, where he's head bowed down and has one of the best games of the playoffs, all while having like a hundred and two hundred and three degree temperature, you boxed one of your most famous fights with a flu, but then you never talked about it, until years later, why didn't you talk about it? - So for me, I'm a really a true competitor, it's like I'm not gonna make any excuses, period, for my performance, and my performance was not up to par to me, because I wanted to knock out and I didn't get it, so to me to say, oh, I had the flu, and there's really no way to prove it, it would have seemed like I was just making up an excuse, when I didn't need to make up an excuse, 'cause I beat that ass, I beat that ass now, don't get it twisted, and I won fair and square, so I don't need to come back now and make an excuse, but the fact is I did have the flu, and after the third round, I was like ready, like I would not sit down in my corner, 'cause if I sit down, I'm not gonna be able to get back up, but I remember, and we're talking about the fight with Jackie Frazier, which is Joe Frazier's daughter, and there was a lot of history there between our parents, and I did not take her seriously, there's a whole story there, you'd have to read the book, but
Jackie Frazier, Joe Frazier's daughter. (19:23)
I was just like, I cannot wait to just get her out of my way, dust her off, and go for these championship titles, because she was not, she started boxing after I started boxing, and I had animosity towards her, 'cause I was like, people already don't take me seriously, and here you come with the circus act, and you're not serious, you're just trying to make money and capitalize on her name, that's how I felt, and, but because people wanted to see the fight, and it made sense, and it was business, I was like, okay, I'm gonna do it, but
You didn't take her seriously (20:00)
then I really didn't, I wasn't really interested in fighting her, but I needed to at the time, so that's actually, it was a tough fight, because I ended up being sick, and I think it would have been tougher than I thought anyway, because she really wanted to win badly too, and she really had animosity towards me, and I didn't realize that she was bringing all this anger into the ring from what she went through was on the other side with her father, 'cause my father used to talk about her father publicly, he's a gorilla, he's ignorant, he's this, he's that, and she had to listen to that about one of the most handsome, famous, most looked up to men in the world talking badly about her father, and so she had a lot of energy too, so like I'd be in my corner, and they'd be like, get her Laila, I'd be in her corner, and they were like, get her jacket, there's so much energy in that room, and I was like, ready to fall out, but there's no way I was gonna stop, but I had no power in my punches, so I couldn't get her out of there, but I won the fight, and then I regret that we didn't have a rematch, because I was young and had so much to prove, I was like, I'm not fighting her again, I'm not fighting her again, that's like one of my two regrets in life is not having a rematch with Jackie Frazier. - You need to tell us the other one? - At some point. - Fair enough. - Fair enough. - If it comes up, no. So walk me through, what does your self talk sound like at that moment, which self talk leading into the ring, I know it's one of your things, I definitely wanna hear about that as well, but you're in the ring, you're exhausted, you can hardly stand up better than to sit down, so what are you saying to yourself? - Anytime I've been sick, I always would visualize the end of the fight, winning, and kind of as if it had already happened, so, and that's kind of how I do now, like I have this coach in my own head, when things get hard, I'm like, I just remind myself, this is life, things are gonna get hard, this is life, don't worry about it, it's just the norm, it's not a reason to, it's almost like with kids, you stay calm and your kids will stay calm, so I keep myself calm that way, it's all good, it's nothing, there's not a big deal, and then I just kind of stay calm, so you know how to, as you can get yourself riled up, and I try not to get, and sometimes you fall off, I'm not perfect, I'm saying, this is 85% of the time, and sometimes I need to let myself get riled up, and then I come back down, you know, so. - So walk me through when you decide that you're gonna be a fighter, literally in the room, when you see female boxing for the first time, you didn't even know it existed, which I had to admit was pretty ironic that the daughter of Muhammad Ali did no figure.
Life will get hard. (21:47)
That tells you though, that women's boxing was not promoted, I mean it was not publicized, yeah. - You're at a friend's house when I'm not mistaken, and her father says, you don't wanna do that, they'll knock your head off. - Right, how do you ignore everybody and still decide like, no, no, no, I'm gonna do this? - Well he was just a little naive to the fact that I was a fighter, so my friend knew, I mean, 'cause remember I was a little, - In real life. - In real life, I was a little rough to begin with, I had had my fights, I mean, anyone who knew me wouldn't be like, oh my God, you're gonna fight, I was always a fighter. Like I was always, like I never, like I was never, now just to clarify, I was, I had to call myself the good bully, because I'm that person, I still am, like if I see someone picking on somebody, I'm gonna say something, even now I don't care if I'm in Starbucks, in line or somewhere, and somebody, I would like, excuse me, no, no, no, there's no need to talk to her that way, like I'm that person, like I'm gonna get in it.
Principles Of Success And Achievement
The Good Bully. (23:00)
So I was like, I'd like to see people taking advantage of, I'm talking about someone that can't stand up for themselves, or someone, you know, that's smaller, so I would get into fights with boys a lot of times, 'cause they'd be picking on someone, and I would kind of jump in it. And then I've gotten into fights, because people would come at me wrong, and I was the type that's gonna stand up for myself, and sometimes it could get physical. So for me, I'm just not afraid of confrontation. You know, I don't like to start it, but it excites me, you know, and I'm totally comfortable with it. So when he said that, I was kind of like, what are you talking about? I really felt like, no, I can do this, not knowing all the skill that went into it. I just naturally felt like, no, I can get those girls. Now, if I would've gotten with those girls, I probably would've not, I mean, I was bigger than them, so we wouldn't have been in the same weight class, but I know now that you can't be a street fighter and get into the ring with a professional fighter and think you're gonna win.
Not taking no for an answer (24:08)
That's just, you can't. But at the time, not knowing, I thought I could do it, and he didn't, so it was easy for me to be like, anyway, yes, I can. So of course, once I thought about it and took the time to actually contemplate going to the gym, got a trainer, I said, well, let me just see if it's gonna come to me naturally, the skill side of it. I don't wanna embarrass myself, I don't wanna embarrass my father. I understand the responsibility that I have, just coming from, it's not just about me. It never has been when it came to, even though I'm gonna do me, it's a fine line, it's not just about me. So if I'm gonna do this, I have to make sure I do it right. So when I went to the gym, I started training, and I'm asking the trainer, like, do I have it? Like, it's a natural, he's like, yeah, of course he's gonna say, yeah, 'cause he's like thinking like, pay day for me, you know, 'cause I wasn't with the right guy at first, like, you know, he was not the right trainer, but, you know, so that's why it was easy for me to kind of shut out the naysayer in the beginning and I said, oh, well, you're right, I can't do it. I was like, yes, I can. Yeah, and I'm gonna show you too, so. - Right, so I was gonna say, you've always said, don't tell you that you can't do something. - Yeah, I mean, I sometimes tell me that I can't do something. - Do you really? - Yeah, how do you respond? - I'm not somebody who just thinks, like, superficially, like, I can just do anything, like, yeah, I can do anything, but can you be good at anything? I'm not one of those people who wants to be mediocre or something, like, for example, I can sing a little bit, and I will say a little bit, 'cause that's a disclaimer. Just in case you say, I can't sing, that just makes me feel good to let you know, I know I'm not Whitney Houston, but I can sing, but I can't sing as well, as I wanna sing, so that's why I didn't, like, so for a little while, I started singing, I started recording music, but then I was like, I don't, if I wanna do it, I wanna be one of the best, I wanna be like, it's a gift, you know, because I have a thing about people trying to do things that they're not really good at. I have so many other things that I'm good at, let me not fool around with this. So, like, you have to pick and choose, but that's just the way that I think. I'm like, I can do anything that I wanna do is about what am I gonna put my time into doing, and I wanna do it well, because I see kids, for example, let's take, for example, a kid that wants to play sports, and yes, you can try as hard as you can, and you can train, and you can have the mindset, and surround yourself with the right people, but some kids just don't have it. They just don't have that natural ability, and yes, you can keep trying, and you can work hard and out hustle other people, but for me, I'm the type of person I'd rather do something else, if it's not kind of natural and something that I wanna do, that's just how I go about things.
The skill of not trying to do everything (26:20)
So yes, I do tell myself sometimes, like, maybe you shouldn't do that, or you can't do that, and so I don't know if I'm explaining it correctly. - You're explaining it very well, and I'm gonna push you a little bit. So certainly from where you started back as a teenager in your early career as a boxer, you didn't wanna be out front, you didn't wanna live in the public eye, and yet now, you have planted yourself very firmly in the public eye, I was shocked at how good you are at speaking. - Shocked. Remember, I'm reading the book, thinking this is happening right now, and it's like, I don't wanna be out front, like there's definitely a certain sense of being guarded, and then in an instant, finish last page, click a YouTube video, and you're like, hella eloquent, I was like, what just happened? I was like, you're able to be so gregarious, so at some point, that even though it wasn't what I call early wins, what you're calling being naturally gifted at, like for me being verbal, was an early win. I won't say I was naturally gifted at it, but hey, as a clumsy kid, maybe I was a little less clumsy than other people, which made me excited, 'cause maybe I'm gonna do it more, and then I just put the hours in. So at some point, I could get it with the boxing, I guess it's easy to imagine because you're dad, but the personality shift of blossoming and literally stepping out front, you did a 40-minute podcast, your first podcast, which was great by the way. - Thank you. - And I mean, that's what I do, and so I'm like watching that, I was like, you go girl. I was super impressed. So when did that become like despite not having early wins that you stuck with it, you got good at it, and now clearly anyone who gets introduced to you today just assumes you're naturally gifted at speaking? - Well, I've always been able to articulate how I feel, and then I've kind of, over the years, understood the importance of, you know, the platform that I have and the difference that I can make in the world, obviously growing up Muhammad Ali's daughter, you know, I've been inspired by my father in a lot of ways to give back, right?
The importance of sharing your gift with the world (28:34)
And that's ultimately what helped me make the decision to box, like, you know, I had to not be selfish, 'cause my reasons for not wanting to be public are kind of selfish, like I don't wanna be bothered, you know, but then I was like, you know what, I can, and I don't wanna be that Hollywood type person. I'm still not now, I'm kind of anti-celebrity, like I don't have celebrity friends and all that, because all that comes with that, I'm not really comfortable with, but I think that over the years, and I'm still perfecting that, I'm not to where I wanna be, but I think when you can be authentic and you can be unguarded, and, you know, you have a story to tell, and then you kind of do it over and over and over again, you just get better at it. And I have a work ethic that I have really high expectations of myself and I work hard, so that's something that, you know, I'm gonna eventually get good at it if I'm gonna keep doing it, because I don't, even with my fights, I didn't judge my fight after I knocked somebody out one. I didn't go, "Oh, look how great I did." I'm like watching the tape, like let me see what I can do better next time. Of course I was gonna win, that's not the point. Like, no, really, I mean, this is just how I thought. It was, I'm not surprised that I won, but people don't know what I trained. Like if you're a speaker, like for example, I all the time go, you know what I mean, you know what I'm saying? And that's something that I do, that it's a bad habit. So if people, if I'm working on that, I'm like, I'm gonna do this speech and I'm not gonna say that, and then I'm gonna go back and check to see if I say, other people may not have noticed, but I'm going to see that I work on the things in the gym that I was supposed to be working on. And so that's how you continually get better. Like I don't feel as successful as other people think that I am, 'cause there's so many other things that I wanna do, you know? And I'm like, "Wow, it's great to be invited on this show. "Like I'm being seen as successful "and I can inspire other people." And I get it, but I still feel like I have so much more to do. And I think that that's what my drive is, you know, still. You know, I'm like, I see what I want and I'm trying to go in that direction. So, but to answer your question about speaking, you know, I think that it just happens over the year. And I do, I do speak a lot. I do a lot of public speaking and I'm perfecting that craft. So thank you so much for noticing that I'm doing well.
Why Champs boxing career was only a consequence of living (30:59)
I'm learning from you here today by listening to you and watching you interview me. So. - Wow. If I can help you with something I would be a lady. - I'll trust me, I'll be calling. So my thing is the reason that I bring that up is hiding in the way that you are are like a roadmap of how to become great, literally, and even if I were just meeting you now and somebody had given me these questions to ask and I didn't know why I was asking and I just needed to listen to the answer, you're revealing it right here and now. So, MC Hammer, I met one of his backup dancers and his backup dancers said, "Let me tell you why MC Hammer was great." After every single show, he would make us watch the tape in real time. So we would get off the stage, how to breath and he would put the tape in. Of the show that just happened. And he said he would make us watch it in real time and he would point out like what worked, what didn't work, what we could all do better. And he said, "I learned in that moment what real greatness is." And hearing you say that, like, okay, I just won, but I'm going back to look at the things that I did wrong. I really want people to hear that because I don't want them to get lost in you saying I had natural talent for it and I worked hard, yes, but it started from natural talent. I want them to hear that and I worked hard part, right? Because that to me is so critical because right now there's a young boy or a girl or maybe an old man or woman and they've never done that thing because they don't know what they're naturally gifted at. They don't know where that really wins. And so they think they have to in order to do something great. And I really believe like your story is that times that, but at other times is the watching the tape. It is looking yourself in the eye before a fight and saying, "I've trained harder for this. I'm worthy of this victory. I've already won." Right? - Yeah, but the thing is is that, and I've said to people before, because we're like, you're so confident, but I'm not that confident about everything. So I want people to understand that, that just because like when you start talking about boxing, you can tell, I get a whole different energy, right?
Having that hunger for achievement (32:55)
That's like, that's my thing. That's my space. I'm gonna take your head off. I used to have a thing saying, like, my mama got in that ring I would press. Like, if people like your mother, but if she got in there, that must mean she was gonna beat me. Like, okay, so if it comes down to me and you, I have to win in this ring, even if it was my mother. So that was just a saying. I want them to really beat my mother up. But-- - Where's she got in the ring? - Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, I know the ring, she wouldn't, she knows better. But I'm just being funny right now. I'm trying to be funny. So, but I'm saying that I'm not that confident about everything. So I do have the confidence in knowing that if I wanna work hard at something, I can make it happen. But, a lot of times I know that people say, like, when I say, oh, I have to work on this and I have to work on that. People are like, no, stop talking negative about this. I'm like, I'm not talking negative, I'm just being realistic. So people have a different way of describing things. Like, when I said to you, when I said, well, I say that to myself, you can't do something. Sometimes I mean, you can't do it yet, or you're not there yet, or you're not. 'Cause in my mind, I'm not where I wanna be. So, I'll say to myself, like, I've always said, I wish I had a better vocabulary. That's one of my things that I'm insecure about, because I did miss out on a lot of school. And I don't have the intellect, as far as the books and things that I would like to have, or a lot of the knowledge that I would like to have. So I'm always like, oh, my next life, I'm gonna do better in school. And some people are like, why can't you do it now? I'm like, 'cause I don't wanna put my time, energy into going back and doing all these things now. So a lot of times to myself, I'm like, well, if you wanted to work on it, you could. So that's always in the back of my mind. Like, yeah, I could, but you have to kind of choose, right? Because we have all these things in life that we wanna go after. And it's like, what are you really gonna focus on and hone in on, right? To actually bring into reality. There's only so much time and space. That's how I feel. - I'm with you. How do you, what are you gonna do to make sure that your kids have that kind of hunger and tenacity to see something through? - Well, not everybody has the same hunger and tenacity. And I know that. And like with my son, for example, he's very kind of timid. And then I learned about, he's a trait called HSC. He's a highly sensitive child, but it's actually a gift because he has heightened senses, sights, sounds. - Did you actually haven't tested for that? - I found out about it myself because he would say, "Mom, it's loud in here." And he was like, "It's not loud. "What are you talking about?" If I change the brand to catch up, he said, "I don't like this." And he's like, "What are you talking about? "Just eat it." And then he say, "My tag is hurting me. "It's hurting me." And I'm like, "Curt, you know, Kurt has come on. "You're tagging me." And then I looked and he had little scabs from his tag. And then, you know, and then I started, my son is complaining about, "You know, you can Google anything now." And then I got to HSC, highly sensitive child. And then you can answer these questions and then I'll tell you whether you have one or not. And then just how to deal with it. So I started to understand him more. So with my son, he may not have that same, you know, drive and type of attitude, you know, tenacity that I have, but he's very confident. He's a leader. So he has it in different ways. So my daughter, she's more like a little version of me, you know? And I'm like, "Oh man, I got my hands full." But she's very sensitive. Like if you get on her, then she'll start crying. So I think you really have to know your child, but I just try to do, I'm like, well, what did my parents do? 'Cause I can tell you the things they didn't do right, right? But what did they do right that made me feel like I could just do anything? - I have a really distressing theory about parenting kids in general.
Empowerment And Health
Put your kids through hardship can make them stronger (36:18)
So I think that hardship may be one of the most important things if you're gonna develop hunger. So I come from the school of look, I get it. It's definitely nature and nurture. It's not just one or the other, but I think that nurture probably accounts for a lot more than nature by itself. And so there's a very distressing equation, we'll call it, which is if you put somebody through tremendous hardship, most people will be broken by that. But the people that don't break become capable of the extraordinary. And if you, I mean, let's look at it from a bacteria perspective, which I'm surprising myself with this right now. So if you take antibiotics and you stop before your cycle is done or the cycle doesn't kill them all, what you get left are the ones that are still alive. So they can face that adversity and they are still tough. And that's how you get super bugs, right? Because you didn't kill them all. And it's like either kill them all or don't treat them and isolate and help proliferate the ones that are the toughest. And that's how I think about kids. And that's how I think about the inner cities specifically is you put a slew of humanity through the inner cities and most of them are broken and most of them fall into a generational cycle of emotional and intellectual poverty. But some become Jay-Z, some become tightens of industry. I mean, they just, I mean, you hear these crazy stories of people like fleeing Mexico with like $7 in their pocket. I met this guy once who's now, I forget the name of the company, but this huge company in the US. He said, I crossed the Mexico American border with $7 in a guitar. And now I've built this, it was a technology company, I've built this massive empire. And people that have immigrant parents, it's that same thing. It's like the adversity does break a lot of people, but it also ignites. And so reading your story, it was like, man, I would never have wished the adversity on you, but it definitely seems like it played a part in making you hungry and driven and successful as you are. - Definitely, and I wouldn't change any of it.
Don't Get Bitter, Get Better (38:23)
And that's why I wrote about it and I embraced it. I mean, 'cause a lot of people would be embarrassed to talk about it. I still cringe sometimes when I hear someone say, for shoplifting, 'cause it just sounds, doesn't sound good, because people, like again, they don't realize I was a kid and whatever. But then I feel more comfortable and I can tell the story so I can read the story. But it definitely is what made me who I am, everything that I go through, and you talk about being bitter, I'm not bitter, and I have a saying, don't get bitter, get better. Because yeah, everything happens for a reason, I truly believe that. And my kids haven't gone through poverty or anything like that. So I think that obviously everyone doesn't have to live that lifestyle to just be like, I got street cred, I made it happen. Everybody's gonna go through something different. My husband Curtis Conway's NFL player, and he grew up in the hood, and he has a whole different story than mine. But we connected because we had so much in common. And I've always noticed, I get along really well with people from the hood. Some of my best friends are straight up sisters. That's who I relate to. And it's 'cause it's that realness, it's that rawness, and that the struggle. I relate to the struggle and I relate to hard work, and I relate to authenticity. So I think that definitely everything you've been through is it does turn you into the person that you are. And that's why I don't look at my story and complain, I don't look at my story and think it's any better or worse than anybody else's, but I own my story. And I think that as I've gotten older, I've learned to appreciate other people more because I used to put my dad on such a high pedestal because of all the great, and now trust me, he's not perfect at all. And I know all the things about him that are not perfect. But that also taught me a lot. Like you can be that great and still not be far from it, like really far from it. I'm saying as far as like, I know some really great dads. So I'm saying just some of the things about my dad, I'm like, how do you do this? And then do that, you know, but it's like, we're complicated human beings, you know, and every individual has their things that some that you're good at, some that you're bad at, but when you learn that at a very young age, you just kind of judge people in the world very differently, you know, and it's like, we're all here for a reason, we're all a part of this universe, you know, everybody is just as important, you know, and I am blessed to, from a very young age, and I get it, be confident, I try to use my platform to get other people to see all the unique gifts that they have, you know, 'cause everybody's story is different and unique, and just as important. - So tell us a little bit about the platform that you're building and how do you hope that helps people be more comfortable and confident?
We're All Here for a Reason (40:28)
- Well, you know, from a business standpoint, when I started boxing, I mean, when I retired from boxing, it was kind of like, now what am I gonna do, right? I've always been an entrepreneur, I've always, you know, felt like I can do a million things, so it's like really, you know, zoning in, like what do I really want to do? So yes, I did dance in with the stars because I had to show people a different side of myself, and that was the perfect opportunity, and then from there, I went on to start hosting television shows and all of that, and that wasn't the plan. I don't even remember what the exact plan was then, but I knew I needed to show a different side of myself, and then, so I hosted American Gladiators, a hook Hogan and a bunch of other shows, and all that time, though, behind the scenes, I was like, what did I really want to do? Because, you know, these shows come and go, and now you're back at the starting point, like I don't like feeling like anyone's in control of my destiny, right? And it's like, if you have to wait for someone to give you a hosting job, that's not really being a control situation, so it took me about five years to say, hmm, what am I passionate about? What do I love? What can I have the same confidence and drive for, as I did boxing? And that was the, when I really started learning that health, fitness, and wellness was something I was passionate about, 'cause I'm writing nutrition plans for friends, and always trying to help people, and I'm doing it now, because that's what I'm really into, but I was like, okay, now, business mind kicks in, like, how can I monetize this? How can I really focus on the things that I love, give back to philanthropy, all of that, but still make sure that I'm taking care of my family, right? So, that's when I started the Laylali Lifestyle brand, and I'm still building it now, but I have my podcast, Laylali Lifestyle, and I have my blog, which is under reconstruction right now, and then I wanna come out with nutrition products, I'm coming out with my cookbook, and it's kind of, as a celebrity, you have to rebrand yourself, 'cause people knew me as a boxer. Then, of course, I went on chopped, because that was, again, strategic, not only because I love to cook, but I need to get into that space, and put that out there, so people start seeing me that way. And then, we have a big problem here in the United States, with obesity and diabetes, and people just don't know how to eat, how to take care of themselves, and they're always being fed the wrong thing and different information. It's really overwhelming, you know, and I feel like we can take control of our health, right? And by eating properly, because a lot of the problems that we have are from the lifestyle choices and the food that we're eating. - And when you say the problems, do you mean physically, mentally, emotionally, all of it? - I mean all of it, so I believe that your food can be your medicine or it can be your poison. I truly believe, like I said, just by taking control of your nutrition and eating good quality food and having a healthy lifestyle mentally, physically, spiritually, all of that comes into play holistically, but it definitely food plays a big part of it. I'm trying to, you can't always go that deep on people, 'cause some people are just kind of like, "What's organic?" Or, "I'm healthy, I drink only clear soda." I'm like, really? Like, I hear those things.
Take control your health. (44:00)
I'm telling you, when I'm speaking around the country to certain people, and I'm like, "Wow, "people really don't know." So some people, you have to start meet them where they're at. But I really wanna speak to those people that just don't really get it, and try to, that's my passion, to teach people how to take control of their health. And when I started boxing, I had to lose weight to become a fighter, and I had to learn how to eat, and how to fuel my body, and then I was like, "Wow, I noticed how good I felt, "and how my body changed, how my thinking changed, "how my energy changed, "just everything about me changed, "because of the way that I ate." - How much do you think body image plays into confidence, and the ability to chase your dreams? - It's very important. - At the end of the day, I just always say, "Just focus on your health first, "and then, naturally, when you feel good, "and you look good, you're gonna feel better about yourself." But it's really the health should be the first key thing. Like, for me, I'm not that vain to where I won't eat, unless, so I have to think about, that's not good for me, because if it's just about gaining two pounds, I don't care, you know, which I have to think, that's poison, you know, and that'll make me not eat certain things. But I still eat, I have my cheat days, you know.
Build a champion's mindset. (45:09)
- All right, so if you were gonna leave for your kids, a few rules, suggestions about how to build a champion's mindset, and then that was it, they could never talk to you again, what would you leave them with? Yeah, we're gonna make it hard. - You're gonna make it hard. - You gotta make it hard. - Oh my goodness. How to build a champion's mindset.
Health should be the key thing. (45:29)
Let's see, I'm just gonna have to start running things off. - Let's do it. - So, I mean, I don't know how many things I have, but I'm just gonna have to go for it. So first thing is you have to, you have to say, okay, what is it that's gonna make me happy? What is it that I want? Then you have to map out a plan, right, in order to get there, and you might have to enlist some help from other people. You might not have all these answers for yourself, it'd be too overwhelming to think you have to do it alone. But that's the first thing you gotta do, and then you gotta, so you gotta get that right team of people in place that are gonna help you along the way. No more than you know, be honest with you, so that you don't start thinking your own shit doesn't stink. And then you have to be willing to do the hard work that it takes, and you have to go into it, knowing that there's gonna be road bumps, there's gonna be challenges. That's just something you should expect. So when you see it, it's not gonna throw you off, right? And then you have to just kind of have faith, and then when you have your moments of weakness, you have to, for me, for one, I believe in a higher being, I believe in God, I'm a spiritual person. So it's like I'll have those talks and say, please give me the strength to get through this, give me the strength to be focused, and then I really trust that that's gonna come. I'll just ask for it. And then next thing I know, things kind of just work out. So I feel like that is something that I can always lean on, so no matter what's going on, I'm gonna get through this. So I think that that's pretty much it. I mean, there's a lot more that we can say, obviously, but that's really what it comes down to, is knowing that you have what it takes to make it. It might not happen in the time that you want it to happen, but it will happen. And these are all things I think that people who are successful have said before, right? So I'm not really saying anything different. But if I'm talking to a child, I would kind of keep it simple and put it like that. And I would say, write it down, write it down, and sometimes you're gonna forget 'cause you're gonna get emotional. And if you're like me, you're gonna maybe have a bad memory, and you might need to refer to your notes, and that's something that you have to do. You have to say it, you have to think it, you have to write it, and you have to really believe it in your heart no matter what it is. - How do you learn from your mistakes and build from that? And the thing I think in the book that really hit me the hardest was when you were in an abusive relationship, the guy choked you at one point to where you were legitimately afraid for your life. How do you come back from that and have a relationship again? I mean, how did you learn from that, and what was that process? - A relationship with someone else, you mean? You know, everyone has their things, they have to work on it. I've never been that person that goes on to the next person as if they were the last person. It was kind of like, this is a clean slate. And I remember that day 'cause he chased after me naked. Like, I ran out of the house like, oh, he chased me, but that was very traumatic. But I always look at myself and I think like, why did I let it get to that point? Because there was all kinds of red flags that were there. And so that's what I do. Like again, I always look at the situation and say, okay, we're not gonna deal with somebody like that again. - Very smart. All right, before I ask you my last question, where can these guys find you online? - I can be found on my Facebook page, Layla Ali, Instagram, the real Layla Ali. I have Twitter, I don't use it that much, I'm trying to get better with that, but I'm the real Layla Ali on Twitter.
Concluding Thoughts And Impact
Where are you online? (48:40)
And then of course, Layla Ali lifestyle is available at podcast one and also on iTunes.com. And if you come, I want you to comment on my show, rate my show, 'cause I like to know what people think. And I'm not at the level you're at, I'm just getting in there, I'm just getting started. - Oh, yeah, that's amazing. - Thank you, thank you. - Absolutely. - I'm having a lot of fun, I'm having a lot of fun doing it.
What's the Impact That You Want to Have on the World (49:05)
- That's cool. All right, what's the impact that you wanna have on the world? - I mean, when it really comes down to it, you wanna just inspire others to be the best they can possibly be in life. Because I just believe that each of us individually, obviously created by God, he did not make any mistake. Regardless of whether you believe in God or not, you were created perfectly as you were supposed to be. And this life is really about finding out what that gift is, what we're here for. And not everyone is gonna be Muhammad Ali, as far as this impact that he had on the world. I see everyday heroes all the time that are doing things in the community or sometimes take two other kids into their household, raising their sisters' kids, and you never know what you're putting in that kid's heart and mind, and he might turn out to be the next Muhammad Ali. So everybody has an important job to do. And I think that I just want everyone to, no matter what it is that you're doing, take care with it, nurture it, see the importance of it. I don't care if you're sweeping floors. It's just that you gotta do your best at everything that you're doing and realize that anything that you can contribute on all different sorts of levels. So I'm not one of these people that's like, "I wanna do this," or "I wanna do that." It's just that I know that there's something special about me and I'm comfortable saying that. So that's really it. I might have a different answer for you 20 years from now, but that's really all that I can say. But my most important thing that I wake up and go to bed thinking about is my children, because I'm 100% responsible for them. And even though they came to this world through me, they don't belong to me. But I really see that it's really important for me to raise them a certain way so that they can go on and make their impact on the world. Thank you so much. - Thank you so much. Thank you, I appreciate it. Thank you. - Guys, this is a universe I promise you that you're going to want to dive into. It is human transformation at its absolute finest of seeing somebody go from a spark of believing that they could be something to actually following it through and recognizing it doesn't matter where you start. It matters what do you love enough to really fight for, to become, to put in the effort? But it's that thing that really to the core of your being, you're willing to fight for, to become, and on the other side of a lot of hard work is the person that you can become. And anybody whose mission is to help, not only themselves, but other people realize their highest level of potential to actually actuate that. You know that I'm going to be into it, and that is what you're going to see in spades. Everything that she's done really touches on that. It's absolutely extraordinary, especially to read her biography and realize, and this to me is one of the most beautiful human traits ever. To go into a relationship, get hurt. Go into another relationship, knowing you're probably going to get hurt again and still open yourself up and be vulnerable and let somebody in. That to me is what it means to be human, to allow yourself that vulnerability, to experience love.
She's tough as fucking nails. And yet it's still a beautiful human being. It's incredible, and that friction, that balance, is what I love. Come on, how can you not love this face? But really that thing to me, that is it, that's the juice. Finding the ability to be hard and soft at the same time, to fight for something and still be a mother, to be nurturing and open. That is incredible. That is something that I definitely want for myself, and I want it for you guys, and you will find it. Dive into her world. You will see how to strike that balance.
Be A Legend - End Slate (52:50)
Guys, this is a weekly show, so if you haven't already, be sure to subscribe. And until next time, my friends, be legendary. - Thank you.
Tom Outro (52:56)
Thank you. - Thank you. - Hey everybody, thanks so much for joining us for another episode of Impact Theory. If this content is adding value to your life, our one ask is that you go to iTunes, and Stitcher, and Rate, and Review. Not only does that help us build this community, which at the end of the day is all we care about, but it also helps us get even more amazing guests on here to show their knowledge with all of us. Thank you guys so much for being a part of this community, and until next time, be legendary, my friends.