Ali loses wife Belinda days be­fore his fight vs Fra­zier

Manila Times - - SPORT - BY ED­DIE G. ALINEA Ali’s wife Khalila with chil­dren Muham­mad Jr. ( on her lap), Maryum ( stand­ing) and twins Reesheda ( left) and Jamil­lah ( right) at her side.

MUHAM­MAD ALI came to Manila in mid-Septem­ber 1975 to de­fend his world heavy­weight ti­tle against archri­val Joe Fra­zier. He lost his wife Belinda in­stead. Be­fore board­ing he Philip­pine Air­lines flight to the fight site, Ali listed 50 peo­ple to com­pose his team.By the time his full en­tourage had come,the num­ber swelled to more than that.

Head­ing the list of Ali’s party was a cer­tain Veron­ica Porsche. Among others were his fa­ther Cas­sius Clay Sr.and mother Odessa Clay.Vero­nia,it turned out,was a beau­ti­ful black lady the champ met in Africa when he fought Ge­orge Fore­man and with whom he had fallen head over heels in love with.

One mem­ber of Ali’s en­tourage that flew in two weeks be­fore the Oc­to­ber 1, 1975 Chris­tened“Thrilla In Manila” and Su­per Fight III swore that Ali’s re­la­tion­ship with his new-found in­ter­est grew “in­creas­ingly se­ri­ous in the en­su­ing months.” Belinda Boyd (later named Khalila when her hus­band and she turned Mus­lim), Ali’s sec­ond wife and mother of his four chil­dren seemed pow­er­less to stop the af­fair.

While in Manila, the love­birds were of­ten seen to­gether at­tend­ing so­cial func­tions, in­clud­ing a din­ner in Mala­cañang Palace ten­dered in honor of the two fight­ers where Ali in­tro­duced Veron­ica to Pres­i­dent Mar­cos as his wife. That cre­ated quite a stir and led to even­tual end of the champ’s marriage to Belinda.

When the First Lady Imelda Mar­cos ar­rived, the Pres­i­dent in­tro­duced her to Veron­ica, say­ing the girl was Ali’s wife. Ev­ery­body who was privy to the AliVeron­ica re­la­tion­ship knew she was Ali’s mis­tress.

Belinda ( Khalilah) was known to have tol­er­ated her hus­band’s ex­tra- mar­i­tal ac­tiv­i­ties. Re­ports were that she even had adopted a “don’t ask, don’t tell” at­ti­tude on the mat­ter.

Not this one though. As soon as she read the news from me­dia re­ports from Manila, she thought this be­came too open to ig­nore.

Em­bar­rassed no end and hu­mil­i­ated in the in­ter­na­tional me­dia, Belinda boarded a plane to Manila and went straight to the Manila Hil­ton, Ali’s home while in the coun­try.

Mem­bers of Ali’s party and me­dia men out­side the room heard com­mo­tion and shout­ing in­side. It was re­ported later that Belinda, all of her six-foot frame, threw ev­ery­thing she could lay her hands on to her be­lea­guered hus­band.

As fast as when she ar­rived, Belinda was seen rush­ing from the ho­tel got into her limo and flew back home. Their marriage over, Belinda emerged the win­ner of sort as she ended up richer by $ 2 mil­lion be­sides get­ting, too, their houses.

The in­ci­dent prompted one news­man to com­ment:“More peo­ple were now talk­ing about Veron­ica-Belinda than the Ali-Fra­zier Thrilla.”

The next day, Ali turned the al­ready volatile sit­u­a­tion to worse by call­ing a press con­fer­ence to try to ex­tri­cate him­self from the hole he dug him­self into. He told jour­nal­ists of the “needs of a man” and the “de­sires of a cham­pion.”

Ali showed no ad­verse ef­fect of what hap­pened the past 24 hours in his talk with lo­cal and for­eign jour­nal­ists. He ap­peared jolly and even ex­changed jokes with news­men.

“I live on con­tro­versy,” he said.“I’m used to pres­sure. That stuff you write, I laugh at it. It’s goof pub­lic­ity. It will sell out the fight.”

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