In a touching gesture of support and philanthropy, Laila Ali, daughter of legendary boxer Muhammad Ali, is set to visit Kampala on a charity trip that will benefit four Ugandan young female fighters, writes Frank Kisakye.
Laila, who enjoyed as much success in the ring (she is unbeaten in 24 professional bouts), wants to meet Morine Nakiryowa, Lydia Nantale, Hellen Baleke and Diana Tulyanabo on a charity trip scheduled for later this year.
A charity initiative, Women Boxers of Kampala Project (WBKP), was recently formed by US-based Classic Women Boxing Warriors after reading about the four girls' plight in the media.
WBKP is intended to help the Ugandan girls realize their dream of competing in the 2016 Olympics due in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Laila is the latest individual partner to support WBKP after IBA light welterweight champion Mary 'Merciless' McGee pledged to give a portion of proceeds from her fight against Holly Holm tonight, May 11.
"I have seen the videos and read the reported stories on the plight of the female boxers in Kampala, Uganda. Although I am aware that people are living in poverty in many countries including the United States, I'm moved by the drive and determination these women possess to rise above their circumstances", Ali said in a statement sent to The Observer, following our recent story (see: Global body to restore hope for female boxers)
Laila, whose dad remains an Olympic global icon, notes that despite having limited resources, the Ugandan girls have 'set goals for themselves that others would think are impossible. Even though they lack adequate equipment and are literally training in the mud, they show up day after day, staying committed to their dream of competing in the Olympics.'
She further states: "I know the amount of hard work, determination and preparation it takes to participate in the sport of boxing. To attempt it with literally no tools or support is difficult to imagine! These women truly inspire me!"
Understandably, the news of Laila's coming has excited the Ugandan girls.
"Are you really sure she's Mohammed Ali's daughter? And you're sure she will be coming here just for us? Oh my God! She is so beautiful, this is so exciting," Tulyanabo reacted.
Eddie Montalvo, vice president of Classic Women Warriors, said: "We are so honoured by Laila Ali's commitment to the Women Boxers of Kampala. I know that is something they will come to treasure for the rest of their lives."
Lori Steinhorst, president of Classic Women Warriors and Bad Girls Boxing also applauded Laila's gesture. "I am deeply touched by Laila's decision to help us with this project. I know that she has a very busy schedule, a family and plenty of other commitments that require her attention," Steinhorst said in a statement.
Other celebrity American partners who have joined hands to support WBKP include performance trainer Ann-Marie Saccurato of Triple Threat Training Systems (T3S) in Florida as well as boxing equipment manufacturer Everlast, Lerner Film, WBC Cares, Bad Girls Boxing, Fight Like a Girl The Movie and restaurant chain Fresquez Companies of New Mexico.