Your hands can't hit
Every sport has great athletes, boxing has Muhammad Ali.
Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr. learned the art of boxing when, at the age of 12, he reported his bicycle stolen and the officer who made the report introduced him to Fred Stoner. Stoner helped him win 6 Kentucky championships, 2 Golden Glove championships, and 2 Amateur Athletic Union championships. And to top it all off, at the age of 18, he won a gold medal at the 1960 Rome Olympics. In 1964 he converted to Islam and changed his name to Muhammad Ali, “the Beloved of Allah.”
At 22, Ali upset heavyweight champion Sonny Liston for his first of three championship reigns. His second fight with Liston came one year later in 1965 and caused some controversy. The fight lasted a mere 1:35 when Ali delivered the so-called “phantom punch” most of the crowd didn’t even see. Rumors started flying about the match being fixed, including some saying Black Muslims threatened to kill Liston’s daughter if he should win and that Ali was supposed to be assassinated during the fight and Liston chose to leave the ring as quickly as possible.
Controversy followed Ali in May of 1967 when the World Boxing Association took away his license and his title belt for violating the Selective Service Act because he refused to be drafted for the Vietnam War.
Ali returned to the ring in 1971 against Joe Frazier to suffer his first professional loss but he won a purse of $2.5 million.
One of his most famous fights was dubbed the “Rumble in the Jungle” against George Foreman on October 30, 1974. Before the match started, a confident Ali conducted the crowd in a chant of “Ali, boma ya!” meaning “Ali, kill him!” And in the 8th round, Foreman went down for the count and Ali won his second world championship.
September 30, 1975 showcased one of the most brutal fights to date in the “Thrilla in Manila” between Ali and Joe Frazier. Both boxers dominated rounds, leaving one another battered and bruised. In the break before the last round, Frazier’s trainer stopped the fight, Frazier was badly beaten. Just moments after the fight, Ali fainted in his corner.
Ali’s last fight came in December of 1981, finishing with a record of 61 total fights, 37 of which were KO’s, 19 wins, and 4 losses. But his real battle would begin in 1982, when he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
Ali will always be remembered for his cockiness, boasting (“When you're as great as I am, it's hard to be humble”), brashness, and incredible ability to back up his hype. You can visit his official website or check out the Muhammad Ali Center.