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... of Boxing

Muhammad Ali (born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr.; January 17, 1942) is an American former professional boxer, philanthropist and social activist.


Few people know that it was actually the theft of his bicycle at age 12 that began his boxing career. After the bike was stolen, Ali ran to the police station, threatening to “whup whoever stole my bike.” Joe Martin, a white Louisville, Ky., policeman, told him he had better learn to fight, and in his spare time, he took Ali under his wing and taught him the ropes. Ali won his first fight six weeks later. When the referee raised his arm in victory, Ali shouted the iconic words that would become a self-fulfilling prophecy: “I’m gonna be the greatest of all time!”

As a teenager, Ali never worked outside the ring. He boxed and trained. He had 108 amateur bouts and set himself apart from the other boys by two things: He was "sassy," and he outworked all the other boys. The work paid off: 6 Kentucky Golden Gloves championships; two National Golden Gloves championships; two National AAU titles before he was 18 years old. "Cash," as he was known to everyone, won the Olympic Gold Medal in 1960 in Rome months after his 18th birthday.


Cassius met and bonded with Malcolm X of the Nation of Islam shortly afterwards. Upsetting a 7-1 odds, Clay beat Sonny Liston in Miami and became heavyweight champion of the world in 1964. The next day, Clay announced to the world that he was a member of the Nation of Islam and that his name was Cassius X. The X reflecting the unknown name that was taken from him by the slave owners centuries before.  The national response was viciously negative. Cassius later took on the name Muhammad Ali given to him by Nation of Islam founder, Honorable Elijah Muhammad.
In 1967, Ali refused to be drafted into the Vietnam war and spoke out against the war. Ali payed dearly for this. He was stripped of his title, his passport taken; all his boxing licenses were cancelled. He lost an initial court battle and was faced a 5-year prison term.


Ali returned to boxing in 1970 and went on to become the only man in heavyweight history to win the crown three times between 1964 and 1979. When Ali retired in 1979, his career was distinguished by 56 wins (37 by knockout) and 5 defeats. Muhammad Ali beat more champions and top contenders than any heavyweight champion in history. Ali stands out because of his incredible wit, his 'lip' and the courageous and selfless things he did beyond boxing. In 1975 at the suggestion of a friend, Ali put his life on hold to Rubin “Hurricane” Carter  — a fellow fighter who was wrongly accused  — get out of jail. Ali was known to pull over to meet school children and kids and sign autographs.


Travails helped transform Ali from a narcissistic self-promoter to a man of enduring spirituality, a true superhero in the annals of American history, a global Ambassador of courage and a boxing legend who courageously spoke up for black men and civil rights throughout his life!

(Time Magazine and

Last Updated on Thursday, 12 June 2014 19:41
Written by Deuce

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