Right in time for the holiday festivities, we caught up with boxing beauty and entrepreneur, Laila Ali. You may know her only in the ring, but she’s taking up a new opponent—-the beauty arena. From the ring to the salon and even the kitchen, Ali dishes with us about her new tool line, secrets to looking sexy while breaking a sweat and her latest passion…cooking!

EBONY.com: Why did you decide to enter the hair care category?

Laila Ali: A lot of people don’t realize that I actually entered into beauty before I started boxing. I’ve always had a passion for beauty, skin, hair and nails. I wanted to do licensing and start a brand, so the beauty arena was the perfect fit for me.

EBONY.com: How did you connect with Gold’N’Hot to partner with on your tool collection?

LA: When I decided to that I wanted to get into this business I asked myself “Who are the leaders in this business?” I had been using [Belson] tools for so long, so I felt that it was a line I could put my name behind and really feel confident in. My line uses titanium in the flat iron, Gold ‘N Hot Signature Series by Laila Ali 1” Professional Titanium Straightening Iron ($39.99; belsonproducts.com) and the price point is super affordable. I knew that this was a brand people would respect and recognize.

EBONY.com: A lot of women are hesitant to break a sweat to avoid ruining their hairstyle What tips or tricks do you have to feel and look pretty?

LA: You have to decide what is more important, your health and being fit or your hair. For me, it’s my health. We all have varying hair textures so what may work for me may not work for you. Sometimes you have to make a few sacrifices get fit which may result in your hairstyle. For me, if I’m going running I’ll just throw my hair into a ponytail. I don’t relax my hair so instead of fighting with a flat iron, I’ll use a little pomade on my edges.  Sometimes I’ll even wear a cap or headband to help my hairstyle last throughout the day.

Ebony.com: How do you take care of your hair?

LA: I don’t go to the salon weekly but I still get a lot of compliments on my hair. I encourage people to take care of their hair by conditioning, using oils and getting trims. People often want to hold on to their hair but don’t realize less breakage will occur if you simply trim your ends. To give myself that professional look at home, I like to use a heat protection spray because it seals the cuticle while adding shine and sheen. If my ends are dry, I’ll use Pro-Styl Marcel Wax ($6.99; sallybeauty.com) to help my hair lay down.

EBONY.com: What else can we look forward to from you in 2013?

LA: I’m in culinary school right now—I love to cook. I am expanding to develop a line of salad dressings, seasons and marinades that will be out next year.

EBONY.com: Really? Do you have any fun holiday recipes you can share?

LA: I have so many! For Thanksgiving, I had about 25 people over. I made candied yams, stuffing, turkey, lamb…pretty much everything. I just take out all the fattening ingredients that are good for your health. All the flavor is still there just not the fat, calories and sodium.

EBONY.com: Any favorite holiday hairstyles?

LA: When your hair is healthy and beautiful, no matter how its styled it will look great. I like to wear my hair full with lots of body. For the holidays, whatever you do go bigger to add some glamour. – JH

Janell Hickman is the Associate Beauty & Grooming Editor for EBONY Magazine. Follow her on Twitter: @jmargaretbeauty