Muhammad Ali’s Daughter Is Crazy


Ali, acting crazy, in 1964.Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

What do you learn as Muhammad Ali’s daughter? That it pays to be crazy. That’s what Maryum Ali told us last night at the opening of an exhibit she curated of Magnum photos of her father. “My dad always told me — he told me this as a little kid — act crazy,” she said. “Because I said, ‘Daddy, how did you beat Sonny Liston when the whole world said you were going to lose?’ He said, ‘I acted crazy! I had him scared!’” It’s a lesson that came in handy in the mid-eighties, when Maryum was living with her dad in L.A., and the champ, she said, was always a nice guy and would let anyone into the house. “This one guy he let into his house, this weirdo guy, the guy started stalking me,” she recalled. “So I got a gun. I told the guy, I said, ‘Look, it’s me or you, and it’s gonna be you. I’m not going to put on no gloves, I got a .38, so keep messing with me! I’m just as crazy.’ In any situation where I’m face-to-face with somebody crazy, I’m crazier. And they just leave me the hell alone.” Being a fighter’s kid probably doesn’t hurt, either. —Bennett Marcus