Laila Ali

Laila Ali is, of course, the daughter of the late Muhammad Ali, arguably the most famous boxer of all time, and his third wife, Veronica Porche. However, Laila Ali become a boxing world champion in her own right, retiring undefeated, with a 24-0-0 record, including 21 knockouts, in February, 2007.

Originally, Laila Ali had no intention of becoming an athlete but, having seen women’s boxing on television, secretly began training to become a professional boxer at the age of 19. Three years later, she made her debut against April Fowler at the Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Verona, New York, winning by knockout after just 31 seconds of the first round.

Over the next two years, a further eight victories, all bar one of which were by knockout or technical knockout, followed. On June 8, 2001, Ali fought Jacqui Frazier-Lyde, the daughter of Joe Frazier, in a bout billed as ‘Ali Frazier IV’, hinting at the classic trilogy of bouts their fathers fought in 1971, 1974 and 1975. Laila Ali won by majority decision.

Ali won her first world title, the inaugural International Boxing Association (IBA) super middleweight title, with a second round technical knockout of Suzette Taylor at the Aladdin Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada in August, 2002. In November, 2002, she defended that title and won the Women’s International Boxing Federation (WIBF) and Women’s International Boxing Association (WIBA) super middleweight titles with an eighth round technical knockout of Valerie Mahfood at the Stratosphere Hotel & Casino, again in Las Vegas.

After defending her super middleweight titles on several occasions, Ali knocked out Gwendolyn O’Neil in the third round at the Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia in September, 2004, to win the vacant WIBF light heavyweight title. The following June, she beat Erin Toughill by technical knockout in the third round at the MCI Centre, Washington DC to win the inaugural World Boxing Council (WBC) super middleweight title.

Katherine Brunt

Born in Barnsley on July 2, 1985, Katherine Brunt is a classical, right-arm fast bowler, who plays her domestic cricket for Yorkshire and Northern Diamonds. Since making her Test debut, against New Zealand in Scarborough, in August, 2004, she has become one of the finest servants of English cricket, with 250 caps in One Day International (ODI), Twenty20 International (T20I) and Test cricket. Indeed, she has won the International Cricket Council (ICC) Women’s Cricket World Cup twice, in 2009 and 2017, and the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup, formerly the ICC Women’s World Twenty20, once, also in 2009.

Brunt represented Yorkshire at Under-15 and Under-17 level but, by the age of 17 was, by her own admission, ‘as fat as anything’ and unhappy, so took some time away from the game. She returned to Yorkshire four stone lighter, entirely the result of her own willpower, quickly progressed to the now-defunct Super Fours and broke into the England team at the age of 19.

Brunt first played at the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup in South Africa in 2005, when England was eliminated at the semi-final stage by the eventual winners, Australia. Brunt also made her Ashes debut in 2005, taking 5-115 in the first Test at Hove and 9-111 in the second Test at Worcester, as well as scoring 52 runs in the first innings of the second Test. England won the series 1-0, thereby recording a Test victory over Australia for the first time since 1984 and an Ashes series victory for the first time since 1963.

Brunt is all the more remarkable for the fact that, throughout her career, she has been dogged by back injuries. She was ruled out of the 2007/08 Ashes series, having undergone surgery on her back, replaced by Lancashire bowler Kate Cross for the duration of the 2013/14 Ashes series after suffering a recurrence of the same injury and, once again, ruled out of the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup, when the injury flared up in a warm-up match.

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