Name: Muhammad Ali
Born: January 17, 1942
Death: June 3, 2016 (from Septic Shock)
Occupation: Athlete, Boxer, Philanthropist
“He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.”
“I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion’.”
“Champions aren’t made in the gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them – a desire, a dream, a vision.”
A legend — One who has passed through the greatest struggles and hard times and still emerge triumphantly. One who achieve incredible merits over and over, in order to prove to the world that it is/was never luck or coincidence. One who pursue and achieve what he believes in, regardless of people’s opinions. One who roars with courage in the midst of danger and adversity. One whose life and good deeds can be used to inspire lives for generations.
The renowned greatest boxer of the 20th century, a three-time world heavyweight champion, and philanthropist, Muhammad Ali, is the perfect example of a legend.
In order to prove his self-acclaimed title as the greatest, the legend spent his boxing years fighting unending bouts against veteran boxers. Despite the series of trials and hard times he encountered, the greatest boxer, Ali, bravely fought his way to success, and eventually engraved his name into history.
Muhammad Ali was born as Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr., on January 17, 1942, in Louisville, Kentucky.
Ali was born to Mr. Cassius Marcellus Clay Sr., who worked as billboards painter at the time, and Mrs. Odessa Grady Clay, who engaged in domestic works for households. Ali is the first child of the family of two. He had a younger brother, Rudy Cassius.
Little Ali experienced hardship from a very tender age; his family happened to be among the few unlucky African-American households that suffered severe hardship. This was as result of a Jim Crow law in place at the time which promoted racism, thereby making life tough on the blacks.
At a young age of 12, Ali was confronted by a circumstance which led to discovering his path of boxing; After his bike was stolen, little furious Ali reported to a police officer, Joe Martin, and made clear his intentions of personally beating up the culprit. Martin, who happened to also be a gym trainer advised little Ali to better familiarize himself with the gym before thinking of beating anyone up.
As a result of his furious and flared-up desire for revenge, Ali dived into the gym with no hesitation. He trained and learned basic boxing under Martin.
Gradually with time, Ali began stealing the spotlight by continuously defeating and dominating his counterparts in amateur bouts.
With his skillful and hardworking personality, Ali won many championships and instantly earned himself a reputation as the best world light-heavyweight champion. He fought a total of 105 bouts as an amateur boxer, won 100 and lost only 5.
As a result of his rapidly growing fame in the amateur boxing, Ali was chosen to represent the United States in the amateur boxing category of the 1960 Olympics. As expected, Ali returned victorious upon defeating all his opponents; he became an American hero. Just then, Ali decided to take his boxing career to the next level; the professional boxing.
Apart from his bravery, speed, and techniques, Ali exhibited an amazing fondness of poet and a commendable self-confidence which made him stand out. He would mockingly attempt predicting the round at which he will knock out an opponent.
As a result of his swiftness, Ali got watermarked with his famous poetic phrase float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.
As an exceptional boxer, Ali trained and equipped himself with many tactics, such as the rope-a-dope technique, in order to aid him flawlessly defeat his opponents, irrespective of their sizes.
He began his pro boxing and continued with his overwhelming conquests over veteran boxers. As a result of his relentless strive, Ali won the world heavyweight championship few years after joining the pro boxing. Before winning the championship, Ali never yielded any defeat. He became a celebrated world champion.
Two days after his massive victory, Ali embraced the world with the news of his conversion to Islam. At this point, he dropped Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. for his new name, Muhammad Ali.
As usual, Ali returned to the ring with his unparalleled skills and swiftness. He victoriously defeated dozens of veteran boxers like Floyd Patterson, George Chuvalo, Henry Cooper, Brian London, Karl Mildenberger, etc.
On April 1967, Ali’s perfectly progressing career was faced with an unfortunate occurrence which almost brought his boxing career to an untimely demise — Ali was stripped off his championship title, banned from boxing for 3 years, and criminally convicted for 5 years because of his refusal to assist the U.S army against the Vietnam war.
Despite being allowed to move freely while appealing his conviction, Ali was deprived the right and freedom of appearing in the ring and putting a smile on the faces of the crowd which loved and cherished him.
After about 3 years of exile, Ali’s crime was overturned and he was allowed to return to boxing. Though his reflexes were not as good as it used to be, he trained relentlessly and then went on to challenge Joe Frazier who was the apparent heavyweight title holder at the time.
The huge anticipated bout between Ali and Frazier was dubbed Fight of the Century. After a historic fight between the two Champions, the match ended with Ali losing to Frazier after all 15 rounds. This was Ali’s first defeat in his professional career.
Such failure, which will normally keep an ordinary man down for long, was more of a motivation to Ali, leading him to win 10 bouts in a row afterward.
A while later, Ali aimed for the title once more by challenging Judge Foreman, who earned the title after defeating Joe Frazier. The bout which was dubbed Rumble in the Jungle handed Ali the championship title a second time after the knockout on Foreman in the 8th round.
The Champion, Ali, however, defended his title in the third biggest anticipated match of his career, in 1975; a rematch against the man with whom he met his first defeat, Joe Frazier. The match was dubbed Thrilla in Manila.
Ali and Frazier went toe-to-toe once again. However, after the 14th round, Frazier’s trainer declared Frazier unable to continue. Ali walked away still a brave and proud celebrated world champion.
Ali lost his title once more but regained it in a later rematch. This made Ali, at the time, the first boxer ever to win the heavyweight championship thrice.
The Champion, Ali, decided it’s time he left the ring for younger stars. The rapidly aging Ali called a quit to his professional boxing career in 1981, at age 39.
He ended his professional boxing career with a total of 61 fights, 56 wins, and 5 losses.
The legendary Champ, Ali, was diagnosed with the Parkinson’s syndrome few years after his retirement. This was suspected to be as a result of the heavy punches absorbed by the legend during his boxing years.
Despite being diagnosed with the Parkinson’s, Ali devoted his later years to the charity and to philanthropy; He aided the release of the American hostages in Iraq, and he personally visited Afghanistan as a United Nations envoy for peace.
In his aging days, Ali also made his sick and debilitating body present in many public events like the lighting of the Olympic cauldron at the Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta, and the inauguration of the first ever African-American president, Barrack Obama.
Ali holding the lighted Olympic cauldron in Atlanta
Death and Legacy
Muhammad Ali, after fighting his ailment for so many years, passed on to glory on June 3, 2016. His death, at 74, brought tears to the eyes of many, in as much as it filled the hearts with joy.
His burial, the burial of a legendary hero, was an epic event. His burial had about 20,000 people in attendance. Those in attendance includes the likes of Bill Clinton, Mike Tyson, Will Smith, Billy Crystal, and many others.
Although the legend is gone, his legacy lives on.
Anything and everything is possible. Anybody and everybody can be great! It’s simply the will to be great and the effort put in that makes the difference.
Like Ali said, I am an ordinary man who worked hard to develop the talent he was given.
The legendary boxer believed the impossible is possible and worked towards proving that. He believed no boxer is undefeatable if he sets his mind to it and puts in the effort. Because of his brave, boastful, and confident attitude, Ali was nicknamed Louisville lips.
While chasing your dreams, you may have to cry for a while.. to laugh forever. You may have to put up with people you don’t like for a while.. to live the rest of your life with people you love. You may have to work nights and days for a while.. to live the rest of your life resting in luxurious comfort.
I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion’ – Ali.
Endure the struggles and give it your all. It’s always worth it at the end. Good luck!
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