Muhammad Ali is known for his iconic boxing status as well as a family consisting of nine children. But it turns out the legendary athlete is the father of a secret love child he had from a 20-year affair.
In an interview with the Daily Mirror, Kiiursti Mensah Ali claims a 1988 paternity test proves she is Ali’s child and that he agreed to have his name on her birth certificate. Ali not only acknowledged Kiiursti on the birth certificate, the sports legend also made an effort to be a presence in her life by visiting Kiiursti and her mom Barbara Mensah several times when she was little.
“Muhammad Ali is my dad – but everything changed the moment he married her,” Kiiursti said about how her father’s marriage to his fourth wife Lonnie Williams in 1986 changed their relationship. For Kiiursti, it all comes down to Lonnie, who married Ali three years after he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
“He stopped coming to see me, she added. “As the years went by he got sicker and sicker. She stopped him having a relationship with me. It’s been devastating.
According to Kiiursti, Ali met Mensah in 1967 when she was a 17-year-old high school student in Houston, Texas. Unlike the other girls who were obviously attracted to him, Mensah’s nonchalant attitude toward Ali struck a nerve with the athlete, who Kiiursti said, “made sure my mom was given his number.”
Although he was still married to his first wife Belinda Boyd, that didn’t prevent Ali from carrying on an affair with Mensah, who went to all his big fights including the “Thrilla in Manila” against Joe Frazier, the “Rumble in the Jungle” versus George Foreman and a title defense in Puerto Rico in 1976.
“I think my mum still loves him to this day. She was the only one who stood up to him,” Kiiursti shared with the Mirror. “He was the love of her life. At the time, the press knew they were together a lot, but they just didn’t know how close they had become. They never really stopped seeing each other ever, until Lonnie came along and made him cut ties with us.”
Despite Lonnie’s efforts, Kiiursti ended up becoming close to some of Ali’s other children. In addition to having a close relationship with Muhammad Ali Jr., Kiiursti has met the elder Ali’s first child Maryum as well as reached out to her sister Hannah and Ali’s twins Jamillah and Rasheda. Ali’s daughter Laila has met Kiiursti numerous times, Kiiursti revealed as she opened up about the reaction she’s received from the rest of Ali’s kids.
“The rest said I just want money. I said, ‘Seriously, you just don’t know what’s going on, do you?’ I just left it alone. Laila and I actually used to see each other when we were younger, I’ve also been to a couple of her fights,” said Kiiursti. “Me and Junior talk all the time, we get on very well. Most of the Ali siblings believe I am a true sister. I’ve just not had the sisterly bond and grown up with them.”
“Most of them are older than me and I’m the baby girl,” she continued. “I feel like I missed out on a lot, it hurts. I hope speaking now may bring me closer to my brothers and sisters – but even more so my father himself.”
As Ali grows older, Kiiursti is adamant about reconnecting with her father before it’s too late.
“Now, I want to say goodbye to him before he dies. I want her to please let me have that chance,” she said while appealing to Lonnie. “I’m not after his money. I don’t care about that. I make my own. All I want is to spend time with my father especially now he is so ill – but she has control of everything.”
Kiiursti’s plea to see Ali comes as she prepares to get married. In her eyes, nothing would be better than to have the boxing great give her away.
“I’m just about to get married to a wonderful man and I would love my dad to meet him,” Kiiursti told the Mirror. “I don’t care if he needs pushing down the aisle, I’d want him to give me away. That would make it perfect if dad was there. It would be wonderful.”