Laila Ali: 'I Was Always a Bit of a Rebel'
The new film Daddy's Girl captures her relationship with her father
She’s already shown she’s great on her feet, but now Dancing with the Stars alum Laila Ali is set to prove herself in another arena: as the subject of Sunday’s TV One doc Daddy’s Girl. The film (see a clip below) captures Ali’s relationship with her famous father, her troubled youth and her undefeated boxing career. Here, Ali, 29, chats with PEOPLE’s Amy Elisa Keith about capturing her life on camera.
Were you excited about the opportunity to chronicle your life?
Reggie Blythewood had the idea to document the [historic 2006] fight in South Africa. But I felt like maybe it was too soon to do a documentary about the story of my life. Now I see that this documents a period of time in my life and it gives people a chance to see another side of me.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a boxer?I didn’t grow up wanting to follow my dad. I was always a bit of a rebel, but it wasn’t direct in a positive way. Then when I saw women’s boxing on TV when I was 18, I thought, “This is right up my alley.”
What was your dad’s reaction?He was going to support me, but he definitely tried to talk me out of it, and still is not comfortable with it 100 percent. He will be happy when I retire.
What was it like training in your father’s Michigan home?It was wonderful to be able to spend some time there, and to be in the ring with my dad who was moving around and throwing jabs at me. I would definitely love to be able to train somewhere where my father actually trained while he was fighting.
Do you feel overwhelmed by his history and legacy?It’s just a part of history: his history and my history. But I never feel like I have to get out from under his shadow, because I know that I have to carve out my own position.