Boxing legend Muhammad Ali has died at the age of 74 after being admitted to the hospital with “respiratory problems.” Ali leaves behind his wife of nearly 30 years, Yolanda Williams, also known as Lonnie. Read on for the facts on the couple and their relationship together.
1. Williams and Ali Met When Williams Was Only 6 Years Old
Ali was 15 years older than his wife and she met him when she was just a child of six years old. In an interview with the NY Times, Williams recalled the day she met Ali, explaining:
That was May of 1963 … I was just starting to lose my teeth. I was scared to death. I was scared of boys anyways and especially scared of this man I didn’t know. Muhammad had just turned 21 in January … I came home from school that day, and my mother was looking out the door. I asked who she was looking at, and she said, “That’s Cassius Clay.” Muhammad must have seen me then, because he asked my older brother to get me. I was reluctant to go over, but eventually I did.
Years later, as a teenager, Williams she said she realized that one day she would end up with Ali, stating that:
I had an epiphany when I was 17 — I knew I was going to marry Muhammad. I was just a kid in school, and I had things I needed to do, but I knew. I was young, but it was intuitive. The thought was like an umbrella, always over my head. We married in November of 1986.
2. Ali Had Previously Been Married Three Other Times
When it came to love, Ali had been quite busy as he was married four times. He also had nine children. His first wife was cocktail waitress Sonji Roi, but religion was said to be the couple’s downfall. While married to second wife Belinda Boyd, Ali began to have an affair with actress Veronica Porsche. Porsche later became Ali’s third wife. They got divorced the same year that Ali ended up marrying current wife Lonnie Williams Ali.
3. The Couple Married Two Years After Ali Was Diagnosed With Parkinson’s Disease
In 1984, Muhammad Ali was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, which was most likely caused by the head trauma he suffered while boxing for so many years. Approximately two years after his diagnosis, Ali married Williams November 19, 1986.
4. Asaad Amin Is Their Adopted Son
Ali and his wife Williams have one child together. They adopted their son Asaad Amin when he was just five months old and Amin grew up to admire his father, saying that the best advice his dad every gave him was, “Let no one tell you you can’t do anything.” Amin spoke to the Courier Journal about what made his father so courageous and amazing explaining that:
He stays with a positive attitude even though he has Parkinson’s and everything. He never complains about it. He just lives his life and makes his best out of the situation.
Williams and Ali ended up adopting Amin when they were visiting Williams’ sister who was caring for a baby (Amin), who was going to be put into the foster care system.
5. Williams Hopes to Carry on Her Husband’s Legacy
In an interview with Boxing.com, Williams previously spoke about the importance of her husband’s legacy, which is something she would like to carry on. Williams stated that she’d like to be remembered as:
As a loyal wife and mother who tried to contribute to and preserve her husband’s legacy to the world…and hopefully left this world a little better than she found it.
Muhammad’s legacy is what gets most of my attention and energy. Muhammad’s legacy is not just for me and his children and grandchildren, it’s a legacy for the world. The footprints he leaves are large and his life is and has been a multi-textured tapestry that is rich in love, wisdom, life lessons and human kindness. God gives us gifts in life and I firmly believe Muhammad is a gift to this world. To let his legacy be lost would almost be sinful. There are so many life lessons that can be learned through his example.