Never a dull moment, Muhammad Ali lived a rather colorful life during the glorious 74 years of his existence. With four wives and nine children, Ali’s personal life has always created news. His love life has also been surrounded by a lot of controversies, after all, it’s not like he had only one woman in his life. Ali’s marriage with his first wife, the late Sonji Roi was no smooth relationship either.
Sonji Roi met Muhammad Ali in 1964. Roi was only 23-years-old back then and working as a model and cocktail waitress and she was also a singer. 1964 was also the year when the 22-year-old Muhammad Ali first won his world title. Turns out the two met through Ali’s manager at the time, Herbert Muhammad. Muhammad Ali proposed to Sonji Roi the night they met. As much as it sound like it’s straight outta Frozen. Frozen wasn’t even an idea when Roi and Ali first fell in love! After being engaged for a short time, the couple married in August 1964.
However, their beautiful relationship lasted for only 16 months. They divorced in January of 1996 and had no children. But what led to trouble in Sonji Roi and Muhammad Ali’s love paradise? It all had to do with the cultural difference as Sonji refused to follow the Islamic tradition. It’s also rumored that the almighty Muhammad Ali had problems with the way Sonji dressed. After their divorce, Sonji has several times went on record to reveal that she was often coerced into adopting Muslim dress and customs! She has been reported by Telegraph saying,
“I wasn’t going to take on all the Muslims. If I had, I probably would have ended up dead.”
She had also complained that Elijah Mohammad’s Nation had "stolen" Ali's mind and threatened her with reprisals. After their separation, Sonji Roi moved to Chicago and Muhammad Ali found love in Belinda Boyd. He married Boyd in 1967 who later converted to Islam following their marriage. Roi passed away on October 11, 2005. She was found dead in her home. She is rumored to have died due to a heart attack.
Muhammad Ali and Sonji Roi had a sad love story, after all, it was not just vibrant colors that filled Muhammad Ali’s love life.
Man…Muhammad Ali and his wives, many wives and many stories.