A family rift over Muhammad Ali ’s $40 million fortune has broken into all-out war and his skint brother looks to be the biggest casualty.
Destitute Rahman Ali – who fears he may have the same degenerative Parkinson’s Disease which blighted Ali for decades – won’t get a penny after years of feuding with his brother’s wife Lonnie.
While their bitter dispute rumbles on, there are also tensions between Lonnie and other members of the family.
And Muhammad Ali Jnr and his seven sisters are at loggerheads with brother Asaad, who was adopted by their dad and Lonnie in 1986. Lonnie, 59, was the star’s full-time nurse before becoming wife No4.
The unseemly row will horrify millions of Ali’s fans as his name is dragged through the mud – and quite possibly the courts if any relatives contest the will.
Muhammad Jnr lifted the lid on the row in an interview with the Sunday Mirror in which he:
Muhammad Jnr revealed the depth of the bad feelings between his uncle and Lonnie.
For years she was accused of being a gold-digger who controlled Ali’s fortune – claims which infuriated her
Rahman claimed he was banned from seeing Ali in his twilight years and from visiting the legend on his death bed.
The three-times world heavyweight champion died in June, aged 84.
Muhammad Jnr, 44, said: “Rahman is really hurt because Lonnie didn’t invite him to the family part of the funeral. He was meant to be at the hospital, but she didn’t tell him about that.
"He’s hurt worse than all of us, I pray for him. He wasn’t able to say goodbye. He wasn’t there when they pulled the plug. He’s not doing so good.
"He was born with a chemical imbalance and can’t remember things. He would forget to go to work and got fired. This isn’t going to help his health. His life is really bad.
"He would benefit from the will the most. I’ll give him some... I feel we all should. It could be the final nail in the coffin if we don’t help him.”
A close friend of the boxer, Howard Gosser, once alleged Lonnie had Rahman arrested for moving into his late parents’ house and removing furniture.
At the time of Ali’s death, Rahman claimed in the Sunday Mirror: “I believe Lonnie tied the knot with my brother just for the money. She orchestrated the entire thing and it’s not just me who thinks it, his children do too.
“We’ve all seen how she talked down to him. It wasn’t nice away from the cameras.”
Muhammad Jnr had previously slated Lonnie too, but he says any rifts have been healed. Now he and his stepmother are working together to divide Ali’s estate.
He said: “In my father’s death, he did something that he couldn’t do in his life and that is get us together. I wish he could see it. It’s funny how death brings people closer.
“Half my sisters I wouldn’t normally speak to, so it’s like a family reunion all over again. I feel the love. We talk by phone, Facebook, Facetime, it’s all come together.
“And with Lonnie, we’re getting to the point where all the issues have been squashed. I’ll call her to see how she’s doing, trying to be there as her rock.
“We talked day and night when we were in California. It was a coming together and we’re sworn to secrecy.
“We were able to be brutally honest, and I saw how things were misunderstood. Lonnie had my father’s best interests at heart, I now understand that.
“She’s a good-hearted person. I don’t have those ill feelings any more towards her, I admit I was partly wrong.”
But while Muhammad Jnr and Lonnie have found peace, things are not so sweet with his brother Asaad, who has also been excluded from family meetings.
Asaad, 30, was adopted by Lonnie and Ali as a baby in 1986.
Muhammad Jnr said: “I don’t talk to my brother at all. I went to Kentucky last month to see my uncle, my father’s grave, the house where they grew up, and then on to the Muhammad Ali Centre.
"I got a text from Asaad and he was like: ‘What the hell are you doing in Kentucky? I don’t give a damn, but you better keep a cool head and not talk about my mother or slander the family name, or it’s going to be me and you’.
“I texted him and said: ‘I didn’t come down to get in your business, maybe we can get together to go to the graveside, go to see Uncle Rahman and be a family.
“He was like ‘Don’t try to be a family now’. He didn’t come to LA. He’s not part of the family, he’s not acting like a family member. I will never be a so-called brother to him the way he is acting.”
Another reason Muhammad Jnr went to Kentucky was to speak to a medium, who says she is in contact with his father.
He said of the beyond the grave sessions: “My father has been talking to me a lot. He told me: ‘There is one thing I didn’t do in my life, which you can do, and that is take care of my family’.
"He didn’t just mean my kids, he means everyone. He wants me to be strong for the family, continue his legacy and be a good Muslim.
"Most important is to carry on his work. We talk about the black community and ending the troubles.”
Before his dad died Muhammad Jnr was living in squalor in the Chicago suburb of Englewood, one of America’s most violent neighbourhoods.
He’d earn $4-an-hour cleaning yards and relied on charity handouts to feed and clothe his wife Shaakira and their two children.
Now he’s moved to a quiet middle-class area nearby. He is living alone after a fallout with Shaakira but hopes they can be reunited.
But he is petrified villains will learn his new address and target him for his slice of the fortune.
He said: “So many people want to be around me now. Where were you when I really needed you? I’m not feeling it. I’m just trying to get my life in order.”
Muhammad Jnr eventually wants to move back to Kentucky and carry on his father’s work at the Muhammad Ali Centre in Louisville.
But he fears more family anguish before the estate is settled. He added: “With the will it might kick up more trouble. Some people might be disappointed.
“Usually, when it comes down to the will and property, there’s a lot of hell to go through... so it’s bound to happen.”
A legal firm handling Muhammad Ali’s affairs said it was Lonnie’s job to “administer the trust as it was written”.
Lawyer Jeffrey K Eisen said: “Muhammad Ali’s trust, which governs the distribution of his estate, was finalised more than 10 years ago and was carefully crafted to reflect his specific wishes and to protect his legacy.
“It is Lonnie Ali’s job as trustee to carry out those wishes and administer the trust as it was written, which she is doing. The details of the trust are and should remain a private matter.”
Date Posted: Monday, October 17th, 2016 , Total Page Views: 750
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