The Champ: Muhammad Ali

Cassius Marcellus Clay Junior (later known as Muhammad Ali), one of the world’s greatest sports figures, is an Olympic gold medalist of a different kind. This article introduces him not only as Clay the fighter, but, also as Clay the activist and the only boxer’s poet laureate. His floating, stinging and prophesying transformed the sport and made him the most respected athlete. Born on January 17, 1942 in Louisville, Kentucky, USA; he is a three-time World Heavyweight Champion.

Clay decided to become a boxer after his bicycle was stolen. He went to the Louisville police station to report a missing bicycle and told the police officer that he would beat up the person who stole it. The police officer (also the boxing coach) Joe E. Martin told he’d better learn to fight first and had him join the boxing club at the age of twelve. Although, he never got his bike back, but, he won many Golden Glove and an Olympic Gold, amongst other awards in the sport of boxing.

Clay trained with Fred Stoner, an African-American trainer. During his training with Stoner, Clay won six Kentucky Golden Glove titles, two national Golden Glove titles, an Amateur Athletic Union Nation title and the Light Heavyweight gold medal in the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome. Clay states that after being refused to be served at an all white restaurant, he threw his gold medal into the Ohio River.

Clay had an unusual boxing style. Standing at 6-ft 3-in tall, he is a far reach for his opponent. Instead of putting his hand up to his chest to cover for hits from an opponent, Clay dropped his hand freely and relied to quick speed and stamina to beat the rival in the ring. This was not the only reason he was not liked much by other sportsmen and media. Clay had built a name for himself by correctly predicting the round in which he would knock down his opponent. He announced this at the press conferences for the buildup of the fight.

In the 1960 Rome Olympic Games, Clay won the Gold Medal in the light heavyweight division. Then, on 25 February 1964, Clay became the new Heavyweight Champion of the World by defeating Sonny Liston, whom he knocked out in 7 rounds. He defended his title as the World’s Heavyweight Champion nine times from 1965 to 1967.