Women Network Better Together. When we come together we create magic. This last month Women Network partnered with LA Sparks to break the Guinness Book of World’s Record for the most attendees at the WNBA, Women’s National Basketball Association with over 20,000 in attendance. We broke the record! Several months leading into this big day I spent time with my friend and brilliant leader, President & COO of the Los Angeles Sparks, Christine Simmons. We spoke candidly about what help we needed from each other to successfully reach our 2015 goals. We both laughed as we immediately signed each other up to be Ambassadors of the Los Angeles Sparks and Women Network teams saying, “Now that is how you get things done!” The #We are Women Ambassadors came out in full force to do their part in making August 30th, 2015 a huge success. The Ambassadors worked tirelessly to get the word out about this campaign, investing time, energy and money to break records and break barriers. Before the start of the game Women Network team members were brought onto the court to pass the ball, (I’ve never done that before, pretty awesome experience)! Women Network hosted the “purple carpet” interviewing celebrities and supporters who came out for the VIP “We are Women” luncheon.
Laila Ali was one of the many incredible women I was able to interview who showed up in full force to support Women in sports and the LA Sparks team break records. Born December 30, 1977 she is the daughter of boxing legend Muhammad Ali. The eighth of nine children she is the youngest of her family. Laila began boxing when she was only 18 and when she first told her father she was planning to box professionally he was pretty unhappy about her entering such a dangerous profession. However, Laila assured him she would be fighting women, not men, and she had his genetics in her favor.
Laila possesses a unique blend of personality and celebrity status, yet retains an innate sense of being “every woman.” My favorite part about building the largest community of women leaders globally is meeting extraordinary women who when the camera is off they are exactly the same as when in the spotlight. Totally congruent with who they are and how they show up. Laila shows up in life practicing this belief every day and demonstrated that when she brought me over to meet her mom. We both laughed and agreed, it’s time for women to come together, to celebrate each other’s gifts and accept how truly amazing we are right now, not tomorrow, not next year, today! It’s time! I was excited to receive the honor of Women of the Year at the World Boxing Council (WBC) this past November, the first in 52 years, over 165 countries represented and over 100 world champions present, Laila Ali being one of them cheering me on!
Laila has been the major draw in professional women’s athletics for years, she took on a new challenge, when she strut her stuff in front of nearly 40 million people every week on ABC’s hit show, Dancing With The Stars. A glamorous and elegant Laila surprised everyone and charged into the finals, as viewers were able to get a sense of her humor, her feminism, her genuineness, and her beauty.
Laila’s tremendous global popularity on the dance-floor and in the ring has led to numerous marketing opportunities. Laila’s personal background as a licensed manicurist, and her past work with skin care companies, has led Laila to launch her own line of beauty and personal care products, “Laila by Laila Ali”.
Fitness is another important component of Laila’s life. Her attention to an overall healthy lifestyle has rendered her an expert in this field. Laila also authored a motivational book titled Reach! She wrote the book in an effort to help young women who may need to be inspired in life; using her own experiences and challenges as an example for her readers. Laila, a multi-talented entrepreneur, owned and operated a nail salon in California before entering the boxing profession.
Laila made her professional boxing debut on October 8, 1999, and in a sign of things to come, she knocked out her opponent, April Fowler, 31 seconds into the 1st round. Laila retired from boxing as the undefeated Super Middleweight Boxing Champion of the world with a 24-0 record, with 21 knock-outs. In her last fight, on February 3rd, 2007, Laila knocked out her opponent, Gwendolyn O’Neal, in just 56 seconds. The bout, held in Johannesburg, South Africa, was attended by Nelson Mandela, a long time family friend.
Laila lives in Los Angeles, California, with her husband, former NFL star, Curtis Conway, and their son, Curtis Jr.