Khalilah Camacho-Ali, The Champ's Ex-Wife, Remembers Angelo Dundee

Categories: Sports
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Bill Wisser
Khalilah Camacho-Ali
​Khalilah Camacho-Ali remembers the first time she walked into 5th Street Gym in Miami Beach was during the summer of 1967. Back then she was known as Belinda, the 17-year-old second bride of the man who would go on to become the greatest boxer of all time: Muhammad Ali. At that time, Ali had been banned from the sport for his refusal to fight in the Vietnam War. The Champ was paying a visit to his trainer Angelo Dundee to see if there was any way he could get back in the ring.

"I made a comment about the place smelling like musk and sweat," Khalilah recalls. "Angelo turned to me and said, 'that's the smell of success.'"

Last April, when I profiled Khalilah, who divorced Ali in 1977, I got to interview Dundee about the combustible relationship between the champ and his second wife. In the last days of September 1975, Dundee was in the hotel room in Manila when Khalilah stormed in to confront Ali about introducing his then-mistress as his wife to then-Filipino President Ferdinand Marcos.

The legendary cornerman told me that he was smart enough to stay clear of Ali's marital affairs. "Naturally, I would see her around and we'd talk," Dundee recalled. "But one thing I have always done is never get involved in a fighter's personal life."

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South Florida Boxing Gym
On his 80th Birthday, Angelo Dundee gives Muhammad Ali a mouthful of cake.
Nevertheless, Khalilah asserts she had a great relationship with Dundee. They were both in Ali's corner for his biggest fights against Joe Frazier and George Foreman in the early 1970s. "Angelo was never interested in just making money off Ali," Khalilah says. "He could have easily sold out Ali, but he truly cared and had compassion for all of his boxers. He went far and beyond for Ali. He was like family."

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South Florida Boxing Gym
Angelo Dundee poses with former middleweight champ Bernard Hopkins at South Florida Boxing Gym.
Many years later, long after Khalilah and Muhammad broke up and the Champ hung up his gloves, she and Dundee became mainstays at South Florida Boxing Gym on Miami Beach, where he watched Roy Jones Jr. and Bernard Hopkins train. Dundee, who was close friend of gym owner Jolie Glassman, celebrated his 80th birthday at South Florida Boxing. The guest list included Miami Beach politicos and ,of course, the champ himself.

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