Muhammad Ali’s legacy as “The Greatest” boxer of all time will live on, unfortunately, so will his crazy personal life. Ali was married four times, having at least nine children. Two children are considered “love-children,” according to The Telegraph. These fractured familial bonds will leave behind an equally complex legacy which may shatter the memory of this boxing titan. Leading up to Ali’s death, family disputes erupted between his current widow (Yolanda ‘Lonnie’ Williams), Rahman (Muhammad Ali’s younger brother) and estranged son Muhammad Ali Jr.
Trying to get in touch with my father @MuhammadAli
— Muhammad Ali Jr. (@MuhammadAliJr) February 19, 2014
Ali’s cousin, Charlotte Waddell, claimed in an interview 2 years ago that Yolanda (current widow) “controls everything” that Muhammad Ali was doing. Waddell reveals the following to The Daily Mail.
“I can’t stand to be around her. It wouldn’t take me two seconds to spit in her face!”
While many mourn the tragic loss, others are baffled on the timeline of the boxer’s relationships. Here’s a look at the women who have stood by the boxer’s side throughout the years:
Sonji Roy Clay: ‘Pretty Wife’, First Wife To Tame The Boxer
Quite the ‘lady’s man’, Muhammad Ali settled down with first wife Sonji Roi Clay after a trip from Africa. Muhammad met the cocktail waitress in Chicago and had a whirlwind romance that lasted for six weeks before they married.
“In my mind, I didn’t think I was gonna like this guy, anyway. Because he was just…I’m not one to brag about myself…and when people do that, sometimes it turns you off. And the initial contact between us—all of this was not there. He just zeroed in on me and swept me up. And I was amazed, as they say.”
The ex-wife tells a reporter during an interview, within two to three days of meeting Ali, she was on a plane to meet his parents.
“Two to three days after meeting Muhammad Ali, I went to meet his parents in Louisville, but I left Chicago as his wife. I told my people, my relatives that I had gotten married this way and I was going to meet my mother-in-law.”
A child asked Muhammad Ali what he would do when he retired. His long, beautiful answer stunned the crowd.https://t.co/qAuYcJUmv1
— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) June 3, 2016
Muhammad, while brushing his hair says, “Most heavy weight champions are ugly, I have to stay kinda pretty…” Ali refers to Sonji as his “pretty wife” in an interview, Ali credits her to making him “settle down” and quieting his ego.
“Well, I’m a little more relaxed and settled. As you can see, I have a ‘pretty wife’ here and I don’t have to talk like I do. She don’t like me to talk too much, do you?”
Muhammad chuckles telling the reporter, “She told me to ‘be quiet’.” The reporter asks why the “pretty wife” informed Muhammad to stay mum, “Actions speak louder for themselves. He don’t have to talk anymore.”
Sonji divorced Ali 16 months later in January 1966, blaming their break up on pressures to adopt the Muslim dress code and convert to Islam. His ex-wife claimed she was threatened for failing to conform. “I wasn’t going to take on all the Muslims…If I had, I probably would have ended up dead.”
Muhammad Ali’s Second Wife: Belinda Boyd’s Fight For Fidelity
Belinda Boyd converted to Islam soon after her wedding to Muhammad Ali. Belinda is now named Khalilah Camacho, according to the Telegraph. The couple had four children during their 10 year marriage, which started in 1967. Boyd was only 17-years-old when the couple married. Belinda caught Muhammad Ali’s eye while working in a bakery in Kentucky.
Together, they had three daughters, Maryum — a rapper and author who was also reportedly at the boxer’s death bed — born in 1972, twins Jamillah and Rasheda born in 1970, and his only son, Muhammad Ali Jr. who was born in 1972.
The Telegraph concludes Belinda fought hard to keep Muhammad from straying from the marriage. Unfortunately, his infatuation with third wife, Porsche, was too strong. It was reported Belinda married three times after divorcing Muhammad Ali.
Muhammad Ali’s Third Wife: Veronica Porsche Bore Two Children
Veronica Porsche was a poster girl for Muhammad’s 1975 “Thrilla in Manila” fight against Joe Fraizer. Porsche added much glamour to the bloody fight, ending his second marriage to Belinda Boyd. Muhammad Ali’s third marriage, which was to Veronica Porsche, lasted from 1977 to 1986. Hana Yasmeen Ali and her sister Laila were the children from Ali’s third marriage who were reportedly at the heavy weight champion’s bedside during the time of his death. Laila Ali remained close to her father, pursuing her own career as a professional boxer. Muhammad would often appear at her fights, including the highly anticipated 2001 match between Laila and Joe Fraizer’s daughter, Jackie Lyde.
Ali’s Fourth Wife and Last Wife: Widow Yolanda ‘Lonnie’ Williams
Yolanda and son Asaad are determined to ‘carry on the legacy’ of Muhammad Ali. Yolanda married Ali in 1986 after moving to California to be Ali’s full-time nurse three years after his diagnosis with Parkinson’s disease. Reportedly, she may have used her power of attorney over his affairs to estrange some family members.
Yolanda “Lonnie” Williams was the last woman married to Ali. The couple never had children and were recently living in Scottsdale, Arizona. Once married, they did adopt a 5-year-old boy, Asaad Amin, who they raised as their own. Muhammad has two sons, the rest of his children are women.
Muhammad Ali’s ‘Love-Children’ And Fractured Family To Shatter Legacy?
It was during Ali’s second marriage to Belinda that two “love-children” were conceived. Maya, the first child, was born in 1972 to a woman reportedly named Patricia Harvell. Other women have claimed to be children of Muhammad Ali, including a 35-year-old woman from Houston, Texas, named Kiiursti Mensah. Khaliah as born in 1974 to a 16-year-old woman named Wanda Bolton—who later changed her name to Aaisha Ali. Its reported by the Telegraph, her mother, “Barbara Mensah, claims to have had a relationship with Ali in his hey-day.”
The Heavy reports Mensah Ali claims to have proof in a paternity test. Mensah Ali has told The Mirror that she is Muhammad’s daughter, but she blames Yolanda for cutting her out of her father’s life. Mensah reveals her story.
“Muhammad Ali is my dad – but everything changed the moment he married her. He stopped coming to see me. As the years went by he got sicker and sicker. She stopped him having a relationship with me. It’s been devastating.”
Ali’s life wasn’t just filled with drama and complex relationships, he had quite the sense of humor. The boxer appeared on an episode of “This Is Your Life,” where singer, Tom Jones asked, “Muhammad, I wonder if the surprise is as big as the one you got from Henry Cooper’s left hand in 1963?” The fighter formed a fist, joking with the singer. Tom Jones recalls their friendship and praises the boxer.
“I don’t think anyone would argue with me that you are the greatest boxers of all time. Not only a boxer, I think you are one of the greatest entertainers.”
HOW MUHAMMAD ALI WANTED TO BE REMEMBERED AS❤️ https://t.co/Cr6CXQJVK1
— #RIPMuhammadAli (@MOURlNHOED) June 4, 2016
UPDATE: Several outlets have reported Muhammad Ali’s estate is estimated to be worth $80 million dollars. In 2006, Muhammad Ali sold 80 percent of the rights to his image for $50 million dollars. These rights included trademarks like, ‘Float Like A Butterfly, Sting Like A Bee’, ‘Thrilla In Manila’, and ‘Greatest Of All Time’, The Telegraph reports. The rights to these likeness’ are currently owned by the same company who licenses the images of Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley. Will Lonnie and Muhammad’s 9 children be locked in a bitter legal battle for the boxing titan’s estate?
Do you think Muhammad Ali’s many marriages and complex family web will tarnish the boxer’s legacy? Sound off in comments below!
[Photo by Carsten Koall/Getty Images]