Muhammed Ali – Best Boxer
The man who was soon to end up one of the best boxers ever was born in Kentucky, in 1942. His birth name was Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr and later on, would be legally changed to Muhammed Ali. Cassius’s name came from “Ali’s great-great-grandfather, who was a slave of Cassius Marcellus Clay, a relative of Henry Clay and ambassador to Russia in the 1860s” (Marks, 1).
In Ali’s life, growing up he was faced with discrimination for the color of his skin. As he was growing up he experienced racial inequality on a daily basis. Racial inequality controlled every colored persons life by “[determining] where they could eat, shop, work, send their children to school, live, marry, how they would be treated if they broke the law” (Eig, 1).
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Ali believe that the only way to be respected and listened to was having money. The Clay family was middle class family. Ali was known in his early life more for playing silly games rather than finding interest in academics. He was a mischievous and lazy child which changed when Ali was twelve. He noticed that “his bicycle was stolen, so he reported the theft to a Louisville police officer who gave boxing lessons in a gymnasium operated in Ali’s neighborhood. A white police officer, Joe Elsby Martin, was to guide Ali through most of his amateur boxing career” (Marks, 1).
Following half a month of boxing sessions, “Ali had his first fight only weighing in at eighty-nine pounds. He won a split decision and was regarded as an average boxer at that time” (Marks, 1) which is how Ali got started in boxing. His first exposure was when he fought at the “Tomorrow’s Champions, a local weekly television boxing show. By this time, he was also training four hours a day under Fred Stoner. Ali later said that Stoner molded his style, his stamina, and his system” (Marks, 1). This is what shaped Muhammad Ali that we all know in the ring.
Muhammad Ali had many accomplishments during his career. He struggled to gain accomplishments at first, but the setbacks did not faze him because it forced him to work harder to get what he wanted. “During Ali’s amateur career, he won 100 of 108, six Kentucky Golden Gloves championships, and two national Amateur Athletic Union championships” (Marks, 1). Ali’s outstanding achievements and scores in his amateur career gave him the opportunity to compete in the Olympics. This was a good opportunity not only for Ali, but cracking the race barriers in sports.
In 1960, Ali competed in the Olympics and earned himself a gold medal which gave him recognition in professional boxing. In 1960, Ali was declared as a professional boxer. He “won his first seven fights as a professional, beginning with the defeat of Tunney Hunsaker in 1960” (Marks, 1). In 1964, Ali fought the heavyweight champion Sonny List and won. Sonny challenged Ali to fight him again resulting in Ali winning twice. Ali then became the youngest heavyweight champion and defeated the next former champion, Floyd Patterson. “In 1966, he stopped all five of his challengers and only one, George Chuvalo, went the distance. Early in 1967, he defeated Ernie Terrell and one month later, he knocked out American heavyweight champion Zora Folley” (Marks, 1). Ali won his second heavyweight title. In 1967, Ali’s titles were stripped away from him and was banned from boxing for a few years but “made a comeback with a fight against Jerry Quarry on October 26, 1970” (“Who”, 1).
Being away from the ring for so long Ali was very diligent in order to get back to the top. When Ali became a top qualifier again he went against Joe Frazer, a heavyweight champion. Ali won the match and the rematch against Frazer. Ali won another heavyweight champion title yet again. “Post the fight against Frazier, Ali’s career graph was in a decline as he was defeated by Leon Spinks and knocked out by Larry Holmes. After losing his heavyweight title to Trevor Berbick, he retired from boxing in 1979” (“Who”, 1). Besides boxing, Ali was “honored with several titles including, ‘The Greatest’, ‘Fighter of the Year’, ‘Sportsman of the Year’, ‘Sportsman of the Century’ and ‘Sports Personality of the Century” (“Who”, 1). Ali also received one in a lifetime rewards: presidential medal of freedom, Boxing Hall of Fame inductee, and given a star on the Hollywood walk of fame. Overall, he earned “an Olympic gold medalist and the first fighter to capture the heavyweight champion title three times and won 56 times in his 21-year professional career” (Editors, 1). Ali’s past, setbacks, and successes in career only made him stronger.