History of Muhammad Ali
Muhammad Ali was one of the most popular figures in the history of sports. He is currently recognized as one of the greatest Heavyweight boxers who ever lived. He was also a well known activist that stood up against the Vietnam War at the risk of his boxing career, and spoke at many colleges about human rights.
The beginning of a Legend
Born Cassius Clay, the young child entered boxing after his brand new bike was stolen. He went to a police officer asking about his bike. When the officer told Cassius he couldn't help
him, the young boy swore to the cop he would find and beat up the bike thief. The officer asked the boy if he ever fought anybody before. Cassius said no, but he wanted to fight the bike thief. The officer took the young boy to a boxing gym. At the gym, Cassius learned how to box and grown to like it a lot. He would spend all day after school in the boxing gym learning the boxing triad. When he got older, Cassius began to study the films of boxing greats like Joe Louis, Jack Johnson, and others. However, the boxer that caught Clay's eye the most, was Sugar Ray Robinson. Cassius admired the graceful boxing style of Robinson and began to model his boxing style after him.
By studying Sugar Ray Robinson, Cassius Clay became an exceptional boxer. He was easily the best boxer at the gym. Wanting to test just how good he was, Cassius entered the amateur boxing circuit. He quickly became successful, winning six Kentucky golden gloves championships, two national golden gloves championships, and an amateur athletic union title. Cassius entered the 1960 Olympics and won a gold medal. At the Olympic games, Cassius charmed the crowd. He's most famous for running along side a woman track & field gold metal winner, claiming he wanted to marry her. After Cassius returned to United States as a hero, the young man quickly learned that his status as a Black person didn't change. When Cassius entered a local diner to get a glass of water, the owner turned him down, claiming the place was for whites only. Cassius was so hurt by this, he angrily threw his Olympic gold medal into the river off a bridge.
Cassius Clay turned professional after the Olympic games. He quickly turned heads, when people noticed his fighting style wasn't the same as other Heavyweights. Instead of standing
toe to toe with an opponent, Clay moved with the fluid grace of a ballerina and landed accurate, lighting fast, punches that often overwhelmed many opponents. Cassius also became known as a loudmouth bragger who predicted the round his opponent would fall before the match. His predictions were usually right. According to legend, Cassius Clay once went to a wrestling show. At the arena, a wrestler known as Gorgeous George walked to the stage with pretty women on each arm. He wore a white silk robe, and with a microphone in his hand, bragged about how he was going to destroy his opponent. The crowd began to boo George and screamed for his defeat. George won the match. Cassius was impressed by this, and used the same methods to build up his fights. Now known as the Louisville Lip, Cassius would site poetry, sing, and use catch phases like "Float like a Butterfly, Sting like a Bee" and "I'm am the Greatest."
After earning enough victories, Cassius Clay finally faced the Heavyweight champion Sonny Liston. Sonny, an ex-convict, was known as the most feared man in boxing. Cassius, however, didn't show any fear to Liston. He often taunted Liston in public and bragged about how Liston was afraid of him. During the championship fight, Cassius dominated Liston winning the heavyweight championship.
Shortly after winning the heavyweight championship, Cassius Clay shocked the world when he announced during an interview that he joined the Nation of Islam, and was given the name Muhammad Ali. He told reporter Howard Cosell, that from now on, he wanted people to call him by that name. A huge backlash, mainly from white people resulted in Ali's statement. Many Whites feared the Nation of Islam and saw Ali as a traitor to his country. A campaign to boycott Muhammad Ali fights began, and most of the venues in the country refused to host fights with the Champion. So, Muhammad Ali went overseas to Europe and became a huge sensation there. During this period, the Champion faced Sonny Liston in a rematch. Majority of white Americans were hoping Sonny would defeat the loudmouth. However, Ali shocked the country when early in the first round, a top form Ali landed a lighting quick counter that knocked Sonny Liston down for the count. Fans were outraged and claimed Sonny threw the fight. However, slowed down video footage proved that the counter punch did land, and it was almost too fast for the naked eye to see. The punch was later called the "phantom punch" by boxing experts.
The Vietnam War
While Muhammad Ali was successfully defending his title, the United States government began to draft people for the war. At first Muhammad Ali was judged unable to fight, but after converting to Islam, the government changed his status to active. Ali was outraged by this and refused to fight in the war. He claimed that doing so was against his religious beliefs. He
also claimed that no foreigners angered him, but the people who run the government (white people) did. The White citizens were shocked by his statement and called Ali a traitor to his country. Because he refused to answer the draft call, Ali was arrested and thrown in jail. He was banned from boxing and striped of his heavyweight title. His lawyers were able to post bail and get him out of jail. His lawyers were also able to postpone his trial for three years. Muhammad would try a career in acting, but it wouldn't last. Poor and living with friends and family, Ali was contacted to do a special boxing show with popular boxing trainer Cus D'Amoto . In the show, Ali would try to prove to Cus D'Amoto and the viewing public, why he was the greatest heavyweight boxer who ever
lived. Muhammad Ali was given a nice paycheck for the show. Soon afterward, Muhammad Ali began giving speeches at different colleges talking about racism and human rights. As the Vietnam War dragged on, many American citizens began to turn against the government, demanding the end of the war. Muhammad Ali became a figure many people began to look up too. Instead of being a traitor, Ali was now a hero who spoke out against the government many people felt was corrupt.
While doing his public speaking, Ali began to miss the boxing ring. The exile champion noticed the boxer who replaced him. Joe Frazier worked his way to win the Heavyweight title taken from Ali. The ex-champ, however, resented Frazier and began to publicly speak out against him. He called Frazier many names with the intention to remind people who the true champion was. Joe Frazier ignored most of Ali's jabs. This changed, when during an open phones television interview, Muhammad Ali called Frazier challenging him. Realizing that Muhammad wouldn't go away, and that he himself wanted to prove he was the best, Joe Frazier helped get Ali's boxing license back. Soon afterward, the Supreme Court ruled that Ali committed no crime when he refused to answer the draft. After three years out of the ring, Muhammad Ali quickly began working his way up the boxing ranks again. Ali lost some
gracefulness in his legs, but made up for it with stronger punches, ring intelligence, and the ability to take a lot of punishment. During the build up to fighting Joe Frazier, Muhammad Ali said very cruel things about the champion. Ali was known to boast and brag, however, many people felt he went too far with Joe Frazier.
When the fight finally happened, Ali's ring rust began to show, and Joe Frazier was able retain his championship belt. Muhammad, however, went on to defeat Big George Foreman adding to his legacy as the greatest heavyweight. George Foreman was seen as unbeatable after he destroyed Frazier taking his title and Ken Norton, a strong contender. Muhammad Ali fought Joe Frazier two more times winning both matches. Their final meeting called "Thrilla in Manila" was known as one of the most brutal boxing matches ever fought. Because of the strong heat and the brutal punches, both fighters claim they were near death after the fight. Muhammad Ali went on to have competitive fights with many other top fighters like, Ron Lyle, Ken Norton, Ernie Shavers, and many others. Toward the end of his career, Ali lost his heavyweight title to Leon Spinks. However, Ali reclaimed his championship in the rematch, becoming the first heavyweight to win the championship three times. Ali was clearly over the hill, however, and his embarrassing defeat at the hands of his favorite sparring partner Larry Holmes left little doubt in peoples mind. After a losing the title a third time, Ali fought a few more times before retiring. His final Record. W56, L5, KO37. Retiring as the greatest Heavyweight Boxer of all time
Muhammad Ali in Video Games
Muhammad Ali had his very own boxing video game named after him. The game was called Muhammad Ali's Heavyweight Boxing and it was released on the Sega Genesis. Muhammad Ali was also part of the roster in Legends of the Ring, and Greatest Heavyweights other boxing video games released on the Sega Genesis. From that game onward, Muhammad Ali has appeared in every officially licensed boxing video game. His latest appearance is in the boxing video game Fight Night Champion.
Memorable Quotes :
" Me... We..."
'' A man who views the world the same at fifty as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life. ''
'' Age is whatever you think it is. You are as old as you think you are. ''
'' At home I am a nice guy: but I don't want the world to know. Humble people, I've found, don't get very far. ''
'' Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. ''
'' I wish people would love everybody else the way they love me. It would be a better world. ''
'' I'm so fast that last night I turned off the light switch in my hotel room and was in bed before the room was dark. ''
'' I'm not the greatest; I'm the double greatest. Not only do I knock 'em out, I pick the round. ''
'' No one knows what to say in the loser's locker room. ''
'' Rivers, ponds, lakes and streams - they all have different names, but they all contain water. Just as religions do - they all contain truths. ''
'' Silence is golden when you can't think of a good answer. ''
'' Superman don't need no seat belt. ''
'' When you are as great as I am it is hard to be humble. ''
'' There are no pleasures in a fight but some of my fights have been a pleasure to win. ''