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Strong and fearless? Then Laila Ali needs you

By unknown | Jan 25, 2007 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Bongani Magasela

Bongani Magasela

Men who do not fear pain and humiliation must volunteer for brutality.

Laila Ali wants sparring partners to prepare for her fight with Gwendolyn O'Neill at Emperors Palace on February 3.

"Any volunteers," she challenged a hoard of journalists who attended her first briefing at the Palace of Dreams on Tuesday night after her keenly awaited arrival.

Hands were raised but Ali merrily warned that they would not last long.

"I'm gonna get a strong South African male to help me," she said.

That lucky boxer would just need to clinch for dear life and forget about landing punches on Ali's pretty face. But she is mean.

South Africa does not have quality fighters from the super middleweight division upwards. Most are pretenders to the throne.

Ali's briefing attracted the who's who of boxing. Photographers jostled one another for pictures when she walked gracefully through the door.

She was given a rousing reception and she smiled while one of her father's famous lines was played: "The champ is here."

It was announced that questions about her ill-fated proposed fight with O'Neil last year and the physical health of her ailing father would not be entertained.

Ali, who is nicknamed "She Bee Stinging", and "Stealth Bomber" O'Neil, from Guyana, will usher in a new and exciting era in the history of local professional boxing.

Their rematch will be the first ever professional women's bout in South Africa. It will top a six-bout Golden Gloves programme

Ali, 29, stung O'Neil in three rounds on September 24 2004. The champion warned that she could do it in two this time.

"I know Gwendolyn is gonna come more prepared, but that won't help her. If she steps up, I will step up too," she said boldly.

Ali stopped Shelley Burton in four rounds on November 11 last year. She is undefeated in 23 fights, with 20 knockouts. O'Neil, 32, has 12 victories (seven KOs), four losses and a draw.

She stopped Margaret Walcott in four rounds on April 22 last year.

Ringside tickets sell at R750 while others range in price from R375 to R500.


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