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Laila Ali Hosts American Gladiators

Published January 16, 2008 in Television
By Fred Topel | Image property of respective holders.
American Gladiators: Laila Ali American Gladiators: Laila Ali
Laila Ali can take on any competitor in the boxing ring, so as host of American Gladiators, sports fans want to know if she'd be as good with jousting sticks or hanging on rings. Like her cohost, Hulk Hogan, Ali tried her hand at the events.

Laila Ali on American Gladiators

"I actually have tried the joust, but I was just playing around with one of the guys that came to the show for an interview, so it was nothing serious," said Ali. "It was more challenging than I thought it would be. That is the one event that I thought that I would be good at because it is kind of like fighting but there’s a whole lot more involved there with the balance you need and you got on this headgear and this giant stick. So it was pretty challenging."

With the legendary Muhammad Ali in her family, Leila was certainly exposed to plenty of athletic competitions. Still, the original American Gladiators made an impact on her. "I did watch the show. I’ve always liked watching just competition and action and athleticism. Just seeing the average person go up against these gladiators is always something I enjoy because I’m not even really a big sports fan but I do like the show."

She never thought about competing though, just spectating. "One thing about me is, I know this might sound crazy being that I’m a fighter, is I don’t want to get hurt, like as far as just breaking an arm or a knee or anything like that. There’s just so much action going on, especially when you have the events where there’s four gladiators on you at a time, there’s just so much room to get hurt. That’s just not really my thing."

That makes hosting the perfect compromise for Ali. "I think I pretty much just tell it like it is. I’ve had the audience boo me a couple times. I remember there was one competitor, for example, that anything they had to do with upper body strength she just didn’t do well on. At one point I told her, 'You know what? You need to just go do some push ups or some pull ups' and the audience kind of booed me. I said, 'Okay, maybe I shouldn’t have said that.' But I just say what I feel at that time in the moment. So I’m honest. I’m an honest host. I never know what I’m going to say."

As a fan, Ali can vouch for the new show's intensity over its predecessor. "There’s a lot of the same games as there were in the first show, but then there’s also going to be some different games. Everything is just improved and it’s harder. For example with the joust, where they actually stand on these little perches and they have to try to fight each other with these large sticks, now instead of falling on the pillows, they actually fall 15 feet into water. Then there’s underwater cameras and everything. There’s fire involved in the show that’s going off and the whole set itself is just very impressive when you just walk in and see it. I was watching reruns of the old show and just like man, it looks so different now. It just looks like a whole different show. The gladiators are new and improved, more athletic, the men and the women. Then the competitors, I think one of the big differences is you’re really going to get to know the competitors and their background stories. They’re very dynamic people."

American Gladiators airs Sundays and Mondays.
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Compiled By (Sources)
Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of respective holders.

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