Yolanda Williams, the fourth wife of legendary boxer Muhammad Ali, did not immediately release a statement after the fighter died Friday in a Phoenix hospital. He was 74 years old.
Here are some fast facts to know about Williams, who goes by the nickname “Lonnie”:
1. Williams and Ali were married Nov. 19, 1986.
2. They met in their hometown, Louisville, Kentucky. She was just 6 years old when she saw him for the first time. It was after he won an Olympic gold medal for boxing in 1960. He was 18. “Who’s that big man?” Williams asked her mother; not knowing he would be her husband one day. “That’s Cassius Clay,” her mother told her, according to The Times.
3. Though Ali, who was born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr., has seven daughters and two sons, he only shares one child with Williams. They adopted son Asaad Amin when he was 5 months old.
4. She changed her religion from Catholicism to Islam for him when she was in her 20s. Williams is inspired by God and her husband. “He is an absolute trooper about everything," she told Boxing.com in 2014 about Ali. "He never complains and has such a positive attitude about life, the human condition, other people and our ultimate reward. Muhammad always rises above."
5. In the same 2014 interview, she explained why Ali was still considered “The Greatest.” Williams said: “Muhammad is still thought of as 'The Greatest' because of what he represents to so many people around the world. Simply put, it’s humanity toward others that makes him the greatest in the hearts and minds of many.”
6. Ali was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1984, three years after he retired from boxing, but Williams said the experience made her stronger. “I do believe that I have gotten stronger despite the challenges of being a care partner and caregiver,” she said. “I’m one who believes that God never gives you a burden to bear that you can’t bear. It might get difficult at times, but that’s how inner strength is developed. Also, there is wisdom to be gained in the struggle that we would not acquire otherwise. And sometimes burdens make us realize we are human and need the help of a higher power.”
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