Muhammad Ali Jr. is Muhammad Ali’s oldest son. He didn’t follow in his father’s footsteps and become a boxer because his dad warned him away, letting him know that boxing was dangerous. Ali Jr. stays mostly out of the spotlight. (To learn about the rest of Muhammad Ali’s children, please see this story.)
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Muhammad Ali Jr. Was Born to Muhammad and His Second Wife, Khalilah Ali
Muhammad Ali Jr. is one of four children born to Muhammad Ali and his second wife, Khalilah Ali. Khalilah was born Belinda Boyd, but she converted to Islam after she and Muhammad were married and changed her name. Muhammad Jr. is his father’s only biological son, born in 1972. His dad also adopted a son, Asaad Amin Ali, in 1986.
2. His Father Warned Him Away from Boxing Because It Was Dangerous
Muhammad Jr. was never interested in boxing, according to a 1992 Chicago Tribune interview. He said his dad never wanted him to follow in his footsteps because it was dangerous. This proved to be true, years later, when doctors believed that Muhammad Ali developed Parkinson’s because of his long boxing career.
3. In 2014, The New York Post Said He Was Living in Poverty
According to Muhammad Jr.’s Facebook, he’s self-employed as a landscaper. The New York Post ran an article about him in January 2014 that said he was “shut off from his dad” and “living in poverty.” The video above shows Muhammad Ali Jr. trying to sell some of his dad’s memorabilia at a pawn shop.
He said he was mostly raised by his grandparents because his dad was boxing and his mom was acting in films. As a child, he saw his dad all the time, he said. But later as he got older, he said he saw him less and less. He felt that his dad spent more time with his daughters than him, he told the New York Post. He said that by 2014, he was living off food stamps and surviving off handouts, unable to get a job, and just felt stuck. But he acknowledged that part of the problem was that growing up, he had always been given anything he wanted and didn’t know how to survive on his own.
4. Muhammad Ali Jr. Has Two Children and Admires His Father Greatly
Ali Jr. is married to Shaakira, according to The New York Post, and has two children: Ameera and Shakera.
Despite any differences the two have had, Muhammad Jr. greatly admires his dad. In a 1992 Chicago Tribune interview, he talked about all the good deeds that his father has done. He especially admired how his dad helped the poor and the helpless.
Jr. wrote a poem in honor of his dad after he passed. He said, in part, “One message he left for everybody of the world is ‘find the Muhammad Ali within you, live the purpose God made you for before you go back to God.'”
5. He Said He First Noticed His Dad’s Health Problems When He Was 14
Ali Jr. said he first noticed his dad’s Parkinson’s when he was 14 and his dad picked him up for a visit. They stopped off for food and when he came back, his dad was gone. He said his dad had forgotten that he was waiting for Ali Jr., and this clued his son in to the fact that something wasn’t quite right with his dad’s health.