Rahman Ali, 69, is the younger brother of former world heavyweight champ Muhammad Ali. Rahman has been in the national spotlight in recent weeks after stories surfaced in a London paper and then in the National Enquirer that attributed quotes to Rahman concerning his brother’s failing health, and mistreatment of Muhammad by his wife, Lonnie. Rahman sat down with me for an exclusive interview on Feb. 7, to dispute the stories and to set the record straight.
KENT TAYLOR: What do you have to say about the articles that have come out in the last few weeks (and the quotes) that have been attributed to you?
RAHMAN ALI: I have not read the articles that have been said about me in the newspaper, but I heard one statement about Lonnie, and my sister-in-law called me and said, “Rahman did you say these things about me and Muhammad?” I said, no, it was all taken out of context, I did not say what they said. I totally deny what the press has said, I would never, ever hurt Muhammad or Lonnie, or say negative things about them. They are very positive people. All of the things that have been said about me were taken out of context. I was misquoted, totally misquoted, I did not say those things.
TAYLOR: What is your impression of your brother’s condition right now; how is he doing?
ALI: As far as I know he’s doing fine. He’s alive, he can breathe and see and hear. His mind is alert, as far as he has come in life, he’s doing wonderful. His condition is a very bad disease, he’s fighting it very strong, with the help of his sweet wife Lonnie. Something else he told me, he said, “Rahman do not worry about me, my motor skills are bad, but my mind is clear.” He told me that about four or five months ago.
TAYLOR: When is the last time you actually talked to Muhammad?
ALI: About three or four weeks ago, we talked by telephone. His speech is slurred, he said a few words to me that made me feel good, he said, “I love you Rock, I love you, brother.” That was all I needed to hear.
TAYLOR: One of the quotes that you say were taken out of context, that was attributed to you, states, “In my opinion Lonnie is evil.” Did you say that?
ALI: Never, never, ever said that. That’s a complete, outright lie. Just look at me, sir, that is a lie, I never said that about Lonnie. I was completely misquoted by the press, misquoted by the press, I did not say that.
TAYLOR: How would you describe your relationship with your brother?
ALI: Excellent, heavenly, heavenly, divine. You understand what divine means? My relationship with my brother is divine, holy, sacred. We’re very, very close. He’s my best friend next to God and my wife.
TAYLOR: Did people call you and reach out to you to try and stir up a story?
ALI: No, no one did that. A few reporters called me from London when they heard about this controversy. I did not talk to them. I said, I did not say those things.
TAYLOR: What has Lonnie meant to Muhammad?
ALI: Everything, everything. Before he got sick and could not talk, he said, “I love Lonnie dearly.” She is his everything. He loves Lonnie. My wife is everything to me. Lonnie is a sweetheart, she is a beautiful lady, I love Lonnie dearly for taking care of my brother the way she does.
TAYLOR: When you and your brother started boxing, how quickly could you tell that he had a gift?
ALI: He’s a miracle. I go back way before that. From the time he was, he is 18 months older than me. I was 10 when we started boxing, he was 12 years old. He said then, “Rudy,” my name was Rudy Clay, he said, “Rudy, I’m going to be world champion, heavyweight champion of the world.” He told the kids in the neighborhood, they said, “No, Cassius, you can’t be champion.” He did everything that he said.
TAYLOR: As much as he accomplished in the ring, as much notoriety as he has received, has it ever amazed you?
ALI: No sir, it didn’t amaze me. I always knew he would do it.
TAYLOR: You knew he would be that big?
ALI: I knew he would be bigger than life. I knew that in my heart, because he was so sweet and kind and good to people. He’s been blessed by God, he’s been blessed by God to do this. He’s a saint. Everywhere you go in the world, “Ali, Ali!” Africa, Asia, Russia, China, he’s like a God. He was born to do this, it was no accident.