Muhammad Ali was a heavyweight, outstanding 56-win boxing champion. He was also known for his patriotic public approach to the Vietnam War.
Muhammad Ali was a wrestler, philanthropist, and social activist widely considered to be one of the 20th century’s greatest athletes. In 1960 Ali was named Olympic Gold Medalist and in 1964 the world champion of heavyweight boxing.
After suspending his military service for denial, Ali took the heavyweight ranking twice again in the 1970s and won famous battles against Joe Frazier and George Foreman along the way.
A 1984 Parkinson’s disease was diagnosed and Ali dedicated a great deal of his time to philanthropy, receiving in 2005 a presidential freedom award.
Early Life Of Muhammad Ali
Muhammad Ali was born in Louisville, Kentucky, on January 17, 1942. Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. was his birth name.
Young Clay proved at an early age that he didn’t fear a fight — either inside or outside the arena. He grew up in the secluded South and endured racial injustice and discrimination.
At the age of 12, Clay discovered his boxing talent in a curious twist of destiny. Clay told a policeman, Joe Martin, after his motorcycle was stolen, he wanted to kill the thief.
“Well, before you start questioning people, you better know how to fight,” Martin reportedly told him. Martin also trained young boxers at a nearby gym, as well as becoming a police officer.
Clay started working with Martin to learn how to spar and soon began his boxing career. He won the fight with a split decision in his first amateur fight in 1954.
Clay won the 1956 Golden Gloves Novice tournament in the light heavyweight division. Three years later he won the National Golden Gloves Champion’s Tournament as well as the Light Heavyweight National Athletic Union Title.
On 29 October 1960, Clay made his professional debut with a six-round decision over Tunney Hunsaker. From then until 1963, Clay posted 19–0 with 15 knockout wins. Muhammad Ali defeated boxers including Tony Esperti, Jim Robinson, Donnie Fleeman, Alonzo Johnson, George Logan, Willi Besmanoff, LaMar Clark, Doug Jones, and Henry Cooper. Clay also beat his former trainer and veteran boxer Archie Moore in a 1962 match.
These early challenges were not trialless. Sonny Banks and Cooper knocked Clay down. At the end of round four, during the Cooper fight, Clay was floored by a left hook and saved by the bell, which was expected to win during the 5th round due to Cooper’s badly spliced eye.
The fight with Doug Jones on March 13, 1963, was Clay’s toughest fight during this stretch. Clay and Jones played on Jones’ house turf at New York’s Madison Square Garden, the number two and three heavyweight contestants respectively.
Jones staggered Clay in the first round, and the unanimous decision for Clay was greeted by boos and a rain of debris thrown into the ring. Watching on closed-circuit TV, heavyweight champ Sonny Liston quipped that if he fought Clay he might get locked up for murder. The battle was later dubbed by The Ring magazine “Fight of the Year.”
In each of these fights, Clay vocally belittled his opponents and vaunted his abilities. He called Jones “an ugly little man” and Cooper a “bum”. He said he was embarrassed to get in the ring with Alex Miteff and claimed that Madison Square Garden was “too small for me.”
Muhammad Ali provocative and outlandish behavior in the ring was inspired by professional wrestler “Gorgeous George” Wagner. Ali stated in a 1969 interview with the Associated Press’ Hubert Mizel that he met with Gorgeous George in Las Vegas in 1961 and that the wrestler inspired him to use wrestling jargon when he did interviews.
In 1960 Clay left Moore’s camp, partially due to Clay’s refusal to do chores such as washing dishes and sweeping. To replace Moore, Clay hired Angelo Dundee to be his trainer. Clay had met Dundee in February 1957 during Clay’s amateur career. Around this time, Clay sought longtime idol Sugar Ray Robinson to be his manager but was rebuffed.
In 1960, Clay won a spot on the U.S. Olympic boxing team, and traveled to Rome, Italy, to compete. At six feet, three inches tall, Clay was an imposing figure in the ring, but he also became known for his lightning speed and fancy footwork. After winning his first three bouts, Clay defeated Zbigniew Pietrzkowski of Poland to win the light heavyweight Olympic gold medal.
After his Olympic victory, Clay was heralded as an American hero. He soon turned professional with the backing of the Louisville Sponsoring Group and continued overwhelming all opponents in the ring.
Vietnam And Supreme Court Case
Muhammad Ali began another kind of struggle with his frank view of the Vietnam War.
In April 1967 he declined to serve in the military because he was a religiously believed practising Muslim leader, keeping him from fighting. He was convicted for committing a crime and almost instantly disqualified from his international title and his boxing license.
The U.S. Justice Department has brought a lawsuit against Ali challenging his right to conscientious objection status. He was found guilty and sentenced in June 1967 to 5 years in prison but stayed free while appealing his conviction.
In the meantime, Ali couldn’t play professionally, so he lost for three years of his athletic career. In 1970, Ali returned to the ring, winning Jerry Quarry and the United States. In June 1971, the Supreme Court ultimately reversed the sentence.
Sometimes naming Ali “The Best,” he had no fear of singing his own lounges. He was known for his expertise before a battle and vivid explanations and sentences.
Muhammad Ali told reporters, in one of his famous descriptions, that he could “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” Some of his most renowned matches include:
Muhammad Ali took British heavyweight champion, Henry Cooper, in 1963 after winning gold at the 1960 Olympic Games. In 1964, he knocked out Sonny Liston and became the heavyweight global champion.
Joe Frazier Frazier
In 1971, Ali seized Joe Frazier in what was dubbed “The Fight of the Century.” Frazier and Ali played toe-toe for fourteen rounds before Frazier dropped Ali on 15th with a brutal left-hand hook. Ali soon recovered, but after 31 victories the judges conferred on Frazier his first professional defeat.
Following Ken Norton’s defeat, Ali defeated Frazier in 1974.
In 1975, Ali and Frazier locked horns in Quezon City, Philippines again for their rebellious battle. Dubbed “Thrilla in Manila,” the end almost went a long way, with both people carrying out immense punishment and accepting it. However, after the 14th round, Frazier’s trainer threw him in the towel and gave Ali the tough victory.
A further legendary Ali fight against unbeaten champion George Foreman took place in 1974. The fight was arranged by the promoter don King and held in Kinshasa, Zaire, as the “Rumble in the Jungle.”
For once, Ali was considered as the underdog to the younger, big former, but with a masterful performance, he silenced his critics. He baited Foreman with his “rope-a-dope” technique and shocked his adversary with an eighth-round knockout to win the heavy crown.
After having lost Leon Spinks’ title in February 1978, Muhammad Ali beat him in a reappearance in September 1978, becoming the first boxer three times to win the heavyweight championship.
After a brief retirement, Muhammad Ali came back in 1980 to face Larry Holmes but he defeated the younger champion.
After a final defeat in 1981, Trevor Berbick retired from boxing at the age of 39.
In 2005 Ali received President George W. Bush’s Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Shortly after Obama’s opening in 2009, Ali won NAACP President’s Award for his public work.
Ali died after having been treated for what is reportedly a respiratory condition on 3 June 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona. He was seventy-four years old.
Parkinson’s disease and spinal stenosis had become the boxing tradition. The athlete fought pneumonia in early 2015 and was treated with a significant urinary tract infection.
Funeral and Memorable Service
Years earlier, Muhammad Ali had decided to mark his own memorial, saying that he wanted to be “also with everyone, where we give as many people a chance to appreciate me,” a family spokesperson said.
The three-day celebration in Louisville, Kentucky, the home town of Ali, featured an ‘I Am Ali’ festival, an entertainment and educational program, a city-sponsored program of Islamic prayer, and a memorial service.
A funeral procession travelled 20 kilometres through Louisville before the memorial service, passing through his home from Ali’s infancy, secondary school, the first boxing gym he had been practising, and along with Ali Boulevard, tens of thousands of fans thrusting his hear and cheering his name.
The Memorial Service of the Champion was held in the KFC Yum Center arena with about 20,000 participants. Speakers include the religious leaders of different religions, Attallah Shabazz, Malcolm X’s eldest daughter, the transmitter Bryant Gumbel, Bill Clinton, Billy Crystal, Maryum, and Rasheda, Ali’s daughters, and Lonnie’s widow.
“Muhammad said he wanted us to use his life and death as a teaching time for his youth, his country, and the world when the end came for him,” Lonnie said. ‘He wanted us to remember to the poor people he saw a face of oppression, that he grew up when he was divided and that he was not free to be who he wanted to be during his early life, but that he never became too embittered to resist or commit abuse.
“I think he determined, before possible, he would have worked everything out and before destiny, time and time could impose their will upon him, he determined that he would never be empowered,” said Clinton. “No race, no place, the desire of others, positive, negative or otherwise will be able to deprive him of the power to write his own story.”, “Clinton said.
Crystal, a comedian in trouble when he became friends with Muhammad Ali , says about the boxing legend: “In the end, he became a quiet messenger for peace, which has taught us that it’s easier to live when you build bridges between people rather than walls.”
“You’ve motivated us and the universe to become the best version of yourself,” Rasheda Ali told her dad. “Live in Heaven without pain. You shook up the world in life now you shake the world in death. Now you’re free to be with your maker.
Will Smith and former heavyweight champions Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis were Pallbearers. Ali was buried at the Louisville Cave Hill National Cemetery.
The status of Ali as a legend is still rising even after his death. He is not only renowned for his excellent athletic abilities but also for his ability to share his mind and bravery to question the status quo.