We know her dad used to float like a butterfly and he stung like a bee. We also know he told everyone that he was "The Greatest".
We believed him.
Not so much because he said so, but because he proved it.
Several years ago now his daughter, Laila Ali, was very much on top of Women's Boxing. Not so much because she was his daughter, but because she was proving it. As is always the case in the fight game, regardless of gender, she beat an assortment of women some deemed "tomato cans" in her run to fistic royalty.
Of course, this was aided by the fact that she was very attractive and very charismatic, both traits she inherited from her father. She seemed to have enough substance to go with her considerable style, and after vanquishing the most popular woman the sport had ever known (Christy Martin, KO4) along with Joe Frazier's daughter Jacqui (MD8), Laila went on to run her record to 24-0, 21KO's.
She retired in 2007, as the WBC/WIBA super middeweight champion after stopping Gwendolyn O'Neil by 1st round TKO in South Africa.
But there were ominous, and not-so-silent whispers in the dark, from the very powerful and formidable Ann Wolfe.
The former WIBA/IFBA super welterweight, WIBC/WIBA/IFBA/NABA super middleweight and WIBA/IBA light heavyweight champion was a goliath in the ring. She retired 24-1, 16KO's.
Her lone loss occurred in late 2000 via TKO in the 3rd round to Valerie Mahfood, a loss Ann avenged in late 2003 via decision. This was right around the time that Laila also beat Valerie (KO8), and was beating Christy Martin in a very highly publicized fight in Women's Boxing.
Ann then really heated things up with a chilling 1st round KO of the highly regarded and unbeaten KO artist Vonda Ward. She then began tearing into all things Laila, and demanding this fight every chance she got. Laila responded with a litany of insults and cheap shots that would have made her father blush.
I don't think there's anything in life Ann Wolfe ever wanted more than to fight Laila Ali.
LAILA ALI VS. ANN WOLFE
Its not very clear why this fight never happened, but I'm gonna guess why. Many have said that Laila basically ducked Ann or that she was afraid of her, and I just don't believe that's true.
I can't accept the child of Ali being afraid of anyone.
What I believe happened is that Ann's hatred- and almost stalking of Laila- led Laila on a course of condescending dismissal of Ann altogether. She was after all, fairly or unfairly, the unquestioned draw in the fight that would have been huge for female boxing all around the world.
I do know that Laila is an objective fan of the sport and a shrewd business woman, and that all the banter and below the belt shots, exchanged on both sides, contributed to her decision to just deny Ann Wolfe a big payday against her.
But scared of her? No she wasn't.
As for how the fight would have unfolded, it would have been very difficult for both women, and I might add that Laila stopped Valerie in very impressive fashion- something Ann could not do in three fights while being stopped in one of those fights herself.
They both got better over time.
I believe Laila's height and reach advantages, her better overall technical skills, and just pure moxie- would have guided her to a UD win over the ferocious Wolfe.
She owned a higher KO % rate than did Wolfe, and the same overall pedigree or class of competition. It would have been a nasty grudge match for sure, but the pride of these two would not allow them to go down, even as they beat the hell out of each other.
Today, Ann is best known now for being the great, mercurial and hardcore trainer of James Kirkland. While Laila, who retired at 30 and started a family, remains a raving beauty and enduring symbol of Women's Boxing.
And man 'o man (pause, long sigh and sip of wine....) I sure as hell wish we could've seen this one.