Muhammad Ali Jr., a View from a Different Side
“Should you ever become famous, leave something for your children”
Muhammad Ali Jr.
When celebrity promoter and friend, Howard Gosser, out of Kentucky, offered to put me in contact with Muhammad Ali Jr., I seized the opportunity.
I could only imagine what it would be like to grow up with the kind of fame and adulation connected with his famous father. I mean my dad, Charlie, is just a regular guy, no fanfare, he took me to baseball games and boxing matches, My Dad played with me in the backyard and the parks, sparred with me in the living room, played a mean game of pool, and laughed a lot. I never considered the idea that just maybe the children of these celebrity parents just want a plain old, loving Charlie, like I am still fortunate to have.
Muhammad Jr. may not be like any other famous offspring; however, it wouldn’t surprise me to find out that his experience is not that uncommon. His lifestyle is anything but that of the Rich & Famous. Howard Gosser, nearing 80, still a stirring example of entrepreneurial spirit, has helped Ali’s financial situation by having Muhammad Jr. travel a bit and capitalize on his name by selling autographs at Meet & Greets and similar events. Muhammad Jr. speaks of writing a book of his life and experiences as the son of “The Greatest”, however, the process required to accomplish this goal has not yet begun.
While I found Muhammad pleasant and willing to share, I also found him naïve in his life’s expectations. The basics as I learned them from my dad were to set goals, work hard, forgiveness, honesty, and a constant striving for a prideful life. These rules were the riches passed on to my children. Money and fame could be great, no doubt, however, without the basics, quite unfulfilling and fleeting. These rules are so firmly entrenched that should we stray it’s a comparatively easy process to regroup, forgive ourselves, forgive our adversaries, and move forward. I’d like to think that Muhammad is capable of doing just that.
DH: Tell me a little of yourself. What day were you born, etc.?
I was born in Philadelphia on May 14, 1972. Which is actually on Mother’s Day, so I was a Mother’s Day gift. And guess what; my mother predicted that I would be born on Mother’s Day, so actually the predictions in the family started with my mother. I think my father got his predictions from my mother. He took a lot of qualities from my mother, when he was boxing and everything. Even the poetry, my mother used to rhyme and do a lot of poetry. She started him doing that.
DH: What is your mother’s name?
Khalilah Ali, aka, Belinda Boyd.
DH: How is your mother doing?
She’s still around, she’s in Florida.
DH: Do you see her much?
No, no, I see her just as much as I see my father. Which is to say, not very often.
DH: Do you speak with them much?
I talk to my mother every time I get the chance. It’s hard to talk to my father because his wife, Lonnie, blocks him from talking to me. Fame changes people. It makes them do what their not supposed to do. If they really love a person, their supposed to do certain things.
DH: I understand that it’s difficult to communicate with your dad these days anyway, is that correct?
Every time I want my father to come and see me she says that,” We have to come up to Michigan, gas is too expensive and we don’t have money like that”. Then she takes him all around the world. And I’m living here on 71st & Western, off of Lincoln, here in Chicago, Illinois.
DH: Is that a rough area?
Yeah, it’s a drug-infested neighborhood.
DH: Are you married?
Yes, I’ve been married for 4 years.
DH: Do you have children?
Well, ugh, I have three children, but one of them didn’t make it.
DH: I’m sorry.
Yeah, I tried to get my father to go to the hospital before she past, and Lonnie wouldn’t take him there once. I was calling and calling him to come see my kid before she past away, but she would never return my calls. And then she never brought my father to my daughter’s funeral. Did you ever hear of Herbert Muhammad?
Well, he passed away and she took him to his funeral, and his funeral was on the same day, right after my daughters. But that’s what you get when you marry somebody that doesn’t love you, except for your money.
DH: What about you Muhammad, are you working?
Actually, I’m out of work and I’m actually looking for a job as we speak. I have to look for a job and it’s not easy to look for a job nowadays because all the jobs are not in the United States. All the jobs are overseas.
DH: Really, what kind of work do you do?
I used to do electrical work with my father-in-law, but I don’t really have a trade.
DH: That certainly makes it difficult, doesn’t it?
I need to go back to school to pick up a trade, but first I have to go back to get my high school diploma, you know, my GED.
DH: What benefits did you have from being Muhammad Ali Jr.?
No. And I’m not doing so good now anyway. It’s not a surprise that I’m not doing so good. Even Rahman, my dad’s brother, is not doing so good. My dad will not even go see his brother.
DH: What about your brothers and sisters, do you keep in contact with them?
I don’t have any brothers, the brother I have is adopted. I haven’t seen my sisters because I’m trying to without them in my life.
DH: What are you doing with Howard Gossman?
We go on celebrity, Hollywood Collector Shows. That way I can sell my autographs and stuff. We’re trying to get my name out there because I’m writing a book about the story of my life. I’m trying to get that off the ground. I’m gonna do that everyday, piece-by-piece, everyday that goes by.
DH: Good luck with that. How close are you to finishing the book?
You know it will be everything that has happened in my life, everything.
DH: How close are you to finishing that book?
I’m gonna need some help with that also.
DH: Do you have someone helping you arrange the content?
No, no one, I’m doing it all myself.
DH: Has Howard helped you in getting a publisher?
He said he would, but nothing has happened yet. No nothing has happened so far. I gotta do what I gotta do first.
DH: Stick with Howard, he’s a good guy. Follow through.
Yeah, he’s a good guy. I have too test the waters; I have to test them because like my father, I have to test people.
DH: Did you ever box or attempt other sports?
Nah, that wasn’t my cup of tea. God didn’t put in my heart to get mad enough to hit anybody.
DH: Beside the book, what else are you working on?
Just to get my life in order. Just gotta keep going.
DH: Well, I sure wish you well. Is there anything you’d like to add for the readers? Something about your dad or anyone else?
I’d like to give them a piece of advice. “Do not depend on family”. Do things yourself if you want to get things done. I’d like to say something else, “If anybody in your family or you get famous, leave something for your children, before you get married to somebody else“. Leave a Trust Fund; leave something in the world for your children. I know how it is not to be left anything. I would also like to let the world know that my fathers’ wife married him for money. She does not love him, because if she did, she would help out his kids in need, she wouldn’t let us go hungry and it’s just terrible how people do things. But that’s life. If you need to fight for something, fight for it while you can.
DH: Well you have the right attitude. You know that you can’t depend on anyone and must do it yourself.
And keep god as your friend, ‘cause with God as your friend, you don’t need nobody else.