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Sonji Roi: All about Muhammad Ali’s First Wife and Their Brief Love Story

Christell Fatima M. Tudtud
Jul 06, 2022
06:40 P.M.
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Muhammad Ali was the greatest boxer in history. He lived a fascinating life, career, and his relationship with his ex-wife Sonji Roi also piqued people's interest.

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Muhammad Ali became a boxing icon due to his exceptional athleticism, and his contemporaries admired him. Boxing fans recognized him as one of the most significant sports stars of the 20th century.

Even though he died in 2016, many fans are still fascinated by his life story, notably his love life. Muhammad Ali met his first wife, Sonji Roi, at the start of his fame, and their marriage was a fairy tale.

Sonji Roi, Muhammad Ali's wife pictured in her car on June 26, 1965. | Source: Getty Images

Sonji Roi, Muhammad Ali's wife pictured in her car on June 26, 1965. | Source: Getty Images

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WHO WAS SONJI ROI?

Sonji was born in the United States on November 23, 1945. Sonji's parents passed away when she was young, and she had difficulty adjusting to life without them.

When she reached adulthood, she worked in nightclubs to help pay rent and became a cocktail waitress. Sonji had no idea that her job at the time would set the wheels in motion that would lead to her meeting Ali.

Muhammad Ali and Sonji Roi on August 13, 1964. | Source: Getty Images

Muhammad Ali and Sonji Roi on August 13, 1964. | Source: Getty Images

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They met on the night of July 1964, the same year Muhammad Ali won his first heavyweight championship. It was love at first sight for the then 23-year-old Sonji and the 22-year-old rising boxer.

Muhammad Ali then proposed to Sonji after they laid eyes on each other. She accepted it immediately. The duo tied the knot in August of the same year in Gary, Indiana.

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WHY DID SONJI ROI DIVORCE MUHAMMAD ALI

Sonji and Muhammad Ali's marriage was just short. She divorced the boxing legend because his devotion to Islam strained their relationship. She said:

"I wasn't going to take on all the Muslims. If I had, I probably would have ended up dead."

When Sonji met him, he was named Cassius Clay and had not converted to Islam. She further claimed that Ali forced her to follow Muslim practices.

Muhammad Ali and Sonji Roi pose for a photo at Logan Airport in Boston on September 13, 1964. | Source: Getty Images

Muhammad Ali and Sonji Roi pose for a photo at Logan Airport in Boston on September 13, 1964. | Source: Getty Images

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The couple had no children during their brief marriage, although Muhammad Ali raised a couple of children later in life. Sonji began a modeling career after their divorce in January 1966.

Sonji began a singing career in addition to her modeling job. However, it was just short. She gained prominence in the music industry for her track "Here I Am and Here I Stay."

Muhammad Ali and Sonji Roi at Boston on November 20, 1964. | Source: Getty Images

Muhammad Ali and Sonji Roi at Boston on November 20, 1964. | Source: Getty Images

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After relocating to Chicago from Miami, Sonji met and married her second husband, business advisor, and corporate attorney Reynaldo Glover. They welcomed their son, Brian.

Sonji had another son named Herman Griffin, but his biological father remains unknown. She later divorced Reynaldo. Sonji never remarried until she died of natural causes in October 2005.

Sonji Roi, Muhammad Ali's wife pictured on June 26, 1965. | Source: Getty Images

Sonji Roi, Muhammad Ali's wife pictured on June 26, 1965. | Source: Getty Images

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AFTER SONJI ROI, MUHAMMAD ALI MARRIED THREE TIMES

Muhammad Ali was married three times. He allegedly had nine children, but only seven of them, who are now adults, are publicly known. His other kids were not keen on the spotlight.

In an interview with NBC9, Khalilah said that Muhammad Ali's affairs with other women affected their union.

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He married his second wife, Khalilah Ali, in 1967, when she was 17. They have four children: Muhammad Ali, Jr., Maryum, Jamillah, and Liban. After their divorce in 1976, he married his third wife, Veronica Porché, in 1977. They share two daughters, Laila and Hana.

Muhammad Ali and Veronica divorced in 1986. In the same year, he married his fourth wife, Yolanda "Lonnie" Williams Ali. They have a son named Asaad Amin.

Veronica Porché and Muhammad Ali attend an event in 1985. | Source: Getty Images

Veronica Porché and Muhammad Ali attend an event in 1985. | Source: Getty Images

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Sadly, Muhammad Ali died in June 2016 after a public struggle with Parkinson's disease. While the rest of the world knew him as the greatest boxer of all time, two of his ex-wives remembered him for his infidelity and alleged sex addiction.

In an interview with NBC9, Khalilah said that the ladies with whom her husband had affairs would get pregnant. She revealed that she even sent them all to Africa.

Muhammad Ali poses with Yolanda "Lonnie" Williams Ali at Berrien Springs, Michigan in July 1999. | Source: Getty Images

Muhammad Ali poses with Yolanda "Lonnie" Williams Ali at Berrien Springs, Michigan in July 1999. | Source: Getty Images

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Meanwhile, Veronica shared that the late boxer had one-night relationships with other women and that no feelings were involved. Veronica and Khalilah have both forgiven Ali, despite his philandering past.

Lonnie, who remained with her husband until his death, said he never had resentment. She said, "He just takes it and runs with it: 'It is what it is, and I'm going to make the best of it.' He never has regrets. Never."

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