Home | Breaking News | Family on the ropes: How Ali’s private life and secret feuds marred the last days of his life
Left: Ali with his sister-in-law Marilyn Williams (left) and his fourth wife Lonnie (right). His daughter Laila (right) has also had a successful career in boxing Reuters/AP

Family on the ropes: How Ali’s private life and secret feuds marred the last days of his life


THE final days of Muhammad Ali were marred by family feuding.  Both his only biological son and Ali’s brother claim they were frozen out of his life by the icon’s fourth wife Lonnie.

Muhammad Ali Junior, 43, says he was neglected by his father as a child and then thwarted in his attempts to build a relationship. Brother Rahman, 71, said Ali would divorce Lonnie if he realised what was going on — adding: “The worst thing to happen is not the illness, but his wife.”

Lonnie, 58, was Ali’s childhood neighbour. Along with her sister Marilyn she became his full-time carer and married him in 1986. At the time, Ali — who had nine children from three marriages and two affairs — was said to be ­squandering his money on women, spongers and failed business ventures.

Lonnie restored the legend’s ­fortune to around £60million and pushed many people out of his life. Some family members accused her of taking control of “everything he does”.

Junior, one of four children born to Ali’s abandoned second wife, was banished after Lonnie learned he had tried to sell a pair of his dad’s boxing gloves. He lives in a drug-infested ghetto in Chicago with wife Shaakira and their two young daughters.

‘When it came to women my daddy was a whore’  And he said whenever he phoned to speak to his dying dad, he was told he was sleeping or busy. Just weeks ago, Junior said he had not seen Ali for two years. He added: “I saw him on his 72nd birthday, then on his 73rd birthday.

“I sang happy birthday to him, and I heard nothing back. He didn’t respond and I know it was the Parkinson’s. I knew he was in a pretty bad shape. “I’m trying not to care anymore about being cut off from the family. I live for me. I’m trying to live life, and be good.”

Junior has blamed Ali’s womanising on his own father, Cassius Marcellus Clay Senior, saying: “When it came to women, my daddy and grandpa weren’t very nice people — they were whores.”

He claims to have had only one “heart-to-heart” with his dad — when he was 19 at Ali’s 50th birthday. He said: “He told me he was afraid what might happen to him in the afterlife because of some of the things he’d done.

“I told him that whatever had gone on in the past, I still loved him, and his eyes filled with tears.” Meanwhile Rahman sees Lonnie as a “gold-digger” who reduced him to speaking to Ali on the phone from his dingy two-bed flat in Louisville.

Lonnie even had Rahman arrested after she discovered he had taken possession of Ali’s family home and removed some of the furniture following the death of their mother Odessa.

Speaking to The Sun in 2013, Rahman said “We’ve all been pushed out. “The only time I get to see him is at public events. She and her ­family are draining him. It’s so sad. There’s nothing I can do, they’ve blocked us all off.

“Before he got sick he told me, ‘Rahman, I’ve set up a trust fund for you after I die, you get the money.’ But she’s put a stop to it. If he knew what was happening and where I’m living now, he’d be as mad as hell, so angry.

“He’d divorce her. If he saw what was happening with his children, he’d go crazy.”

Rahman, who joined the local boxing league with Ali as a youngster and later became a heavyweight fighter himself, now lives off disability benefits with his church minister wife Caroline.

He said: “I know him better than anyone, I can sense he’s unhappy. I can see it in his eyes. “I love him, but she stops him from loving anyone.

“I think she married my brother just for the money. She talks to him bad. He doesn’t even get fed properly. The last time we were together he was so dehydrated. You could tell from his lips.

“His wife Lonnie and her family are draining him and there’s nothing I can do about it. In my opinion, Lonnie’s evil.” He is not alone in his hatred. Ali’s cousin Charlotte Waddell, 69, said in 2014: “I can’t stand to be around her.

“It wouldn’t take me two seconds to spit in her face!” Another row was sparked on ­Friday by Ali’s daughter Laila, a retired professional boxer.

As her dad’s condition deteriorated, the 38-year-old changed her Facebook profile picture to one of her in a boxing ring holding two belts with proud-looking Ali alongside her. This wounded some of Ali’s other children, as they thought she was portraying herself as a favourite.

One relative who has not been pushed out by Lonnie is 25-year-old Assad Amin, the son she and Ali adopted when he was five. Assad, who was about to be taken into foster care because a friend of Lonnie’s could not afford to keep him, now studies at an expensive university where he excels at sports.

Lover and a fighrt

MUHAMMAD Ali was married four times and was linked with countless women in a private life with more drama than any fight.

When he stayed at London’s Piccadilly Hotel, star-struck women are said to have worn the carpet threadbare as they scrambled to get to his bedroom door. Usually Ali would wink and say of whatever woman was on his arm: “She’s the babysitter.”

In 1964 he wed first wife Sonji Roi having only known her a month. But the marriage soured after he converted to Islam. She refused to wear Muslim dress and they split in 1966.

He then sped through women, never letting his religion hinder his sex life, as his secret love-children continued to emerge. Second wife Belinda Boyd was just 17 when they wed in 1967. They had four kids — Maryum, twins Jamillah and Rasheda and son Muhammad Ali Junior.

Then in 1975, while in Manila for his legendary fight with Joe Frazier, Ali began an affair with poster girl Veronica Porsche. When Belinda caught them in a hotel room together she attacked him with more venom than Frazier, drawing blood.

By 1977 they had divorced and he had wed model Veronica, who went on to have two of his daughters, Laila and Hana. The boxer then fathered two other girls, Miya and Khaliah, after two affairs in the early ’70s.

He eventually divorced Veronica in 1986 after being pursued by former neighbour Yolanda “Lonnie” Williams. She left her job and moved into an apartment near Ali’s mansion after hearing how he was slurring his words and shaking as a result of his then-undiagnosed disease.

She offered to serve as his full-time nurse and the pair wed in November 1986. They went on to adopt a son, Asaad Amin. Ali spent his last days living in Scottsdale, Arizona, with Lonnie.

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