By Camille Sarabia

Even in a man’s world, he’s nothing without a woman or a girl.  As James Brown famously noted: Women are forces to be reckoned with.  Through their beauty, wit, athleticism, intelligence, passion and ambition, they are dominating male spheres from sports to business and are holding their ground.  Laila Ali is one of these exceptional women.

Laila Ali first entered the boxing ring to not only pursue a man’s sport, but to win. Even without knowing the name of her famous father, it was obvious that she had the blood of a champion.  “I’ve trained harder, I’m better, I’m stronger, the blood of a champion runs through my veins,” she once said of her boxing career. “I’ve earned this opportunity, I’ll earn this victory. I’ve already won.”

Ali won her first match at age 21 and continued through her career gaining titles such as: the IBA, WIBA and IWBF Super Middle Weight Champion. As the daughter and eighth child of the legendary boxer Muhammad Ali, Laila was born with the natural talent to be a star athlete, but she proved that her talents go beyond just good genetics.

Ali has been an inspiration to female athletes and women of our generation all over the world.  The same woman who won her first match in 31 seconds is a woman of genuine character, poise and beauty.  She’s the same woman who can deliver a powerful blow in the ring, and then strike a powerful pose on a fashion runway – which is exactly what she did when she walked glamorously in the 2011 Heart of Truth fashion show during the Mercedes Benz fashion week. She’s also been known to show quick feet and agility in heels, as she notably showed while conquering the ballroom floor on ABC’s hit reality series Dancing with the Stars.

In the 15 years since her first boxing bout in 1999, Laila Ali has taken on a few new titles of her own.  She’s a mother to her two children Curtis and Sydney, a motivational author from her autobiography Reach!: Finding Strength, Spirit, and Personal Power and a host for CBS’s Laila Ali All In, through which she travels to explore culture, achievements and compelling stories with heart and passion that encourage people to chase their dreams.

She also works to promote healthy lifestyles through her health and fitness tips and home cooked recipes. Known for her physical beauty as much as her athletic prowess, Laila Ali also encourages other women to understand and appreciate their own beauty through her DOVE national campaign and line of beauty care products “Laila by Laila Ali.”

To Laila Ali, there’s no competition that can’t be executed without her best effort.  She’s a victor of all sorts.  Her game may have changed, but she approaches everything she does with zeal and the desire to succeed and inspire others to do the same.

In 2004, Ali joined Adidas “Impossible is Nothing” campaign, through which she advocated for female athletes in male spheres and encouraged athletes to reach their seemingly impossible goals.  In the campaign, she said, “Even if critics may doubt you, it’s okay to believe that there is not an ‘if,’ ‘can’t’ or ‘impossible.’  They remind us that it’s okay to believe that impossible is nothing.”

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