Tribute to Muhamad Ali “The Greatest”
It seems almost everyone the world over is mourning the sad loss of the person we fondly knew as “The Greatest”. But the greatest at what? Well certainly he was and always will be one of the greatest and bravest boxers this planet has produced, at any weight level. But this is just one of the reasons I think we this name is always accredited to Muhamad Ali.
Born Cassius Marcellus Clay on January 17, 1942 in Louisville, Kentucky, Clay started boxing in 1954 when he went to the police after having his bike stolen, the furious Clay vowed to “Whup” whoever was responsible. Joe Martin a policeman and boxing trainer then introduced Clay to boxing.
In 1960 Clay won Gold in Rome Italy at the Olympics in the light heavyweight division. He soon turned Professional, and after a brief spell with Archie Moore he turned to the guidance of Angelo Dundee. It was impossible to predict then, just what an impact this duo would have over the world of boxing.
Clay was intent on fighting the then heavyweight champion of the world Sonny Liston and after pulling off every stunt imaginable, in 1964 he got his wish. Many feared for Clay’s life and demanded the contest be called off, as Liston was considered unbeatable and was knocking all his opponents out cold. So how could this brash good looking kid stand a chance against this monster? “Float like a butterfly and sting like a bee” was Clays answer. And he did. Clay outclassed Liston and at the beginning of the 7th round it was over. Clay could be heard shouting “I shook up the world” and he had.
Soon after this Clay changed his name to Muhamad Ali and his achievements in and out of the ring continued. He went on to become the only heavyweight in history to win the title three times. He had three unforgettable fights with Smoking Joe Frazier, He was inactive from March 22, 1967 to October 26, 1970 for refusing to fight in the Vietnam War, possibly taking away his peak years in boxing.
But surely his greatest boxing achievement was beating another so-called unbeatable opponent. In 1974 Ali fought the formidable then world champion George Foreman. Once again Ali was given little chance of victory, unbeaten Foreman was knocking opponents over like skittles and had literally lifted Joe Frazier off his feet with one punch. The fight was in Kinsasha, Zaire and was dubbed “The Rumble in the Jungle” and once again Ali prevailed, this time employing his famous “Rope a Dope” tactic, big George simply punched himself out on Ali and towards the end of the 8th round Ali knocked Foreman out.
We could go on and on about Ali’s achievements in the ring, but as stated at the beginning of this tribute, Ali was the greatest at what? Well certainly boxing, but I think he was the greatest at much more than this, he was an entertainer, he stood up for his rights, he was a humanitarian, caring and although he would goad his opponents mercilessly, win lose or draw, he would always have comforting and supporting words after. Muhamad Ali changed the face of boxing and he wasn’t just the greatest boxer, he was far greater than that.
January 17th 1942 to June 3rd 2016
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