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Muhammad Ali: Lord of the Ring and Life (1942-2016)

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Muhammad Ali: Lord of the Ring and Life (1942-2016)

India Blooms News Service | 04 Jun 2016, 06:46 pm
When Cassius Clay- a name Muhammad Ali after conversion to Islam chose to shun because it reeked of slavery- took up the gloves at the age of 12, he was nothing but an angry kid who wanted to bash up some goons.
His talent was never in question, it was a matter of time before Clay would be reborn as Muhammad Ali or would clinch the world heavyweight title and be a rebel with a cause. A prophecy he fulfilled a decade later by defeating Sonny Liston in 1964.
 
Ali, who was born in Louisville, Kentucky to a  black working-class family in 1942 and died on Friday while recuperating from respiratory problems at age 74, went on to become a sporting icon and the greatest heavyweight champion.
 
He is survived by his nine children, including boxer daughter Laila,  and his fourth wife, Lonnie. 
 
And perhaps nothing sums up more his living legend status when George Foreman, who had lost to Ali  in 1974 for the world heavyweight title, tweets: "A part of me slipped away, The greatest piece."
 
Ali was a rebel and with a cause. Changing his name and embracing Islam he had said: "Cassius Clay is a name that white people gave to my slave master. Now that I am free, that I don't belong anymore to anyone, that I'm not a slave anymore, I gave back their white name, and I chose a beautiful African one."
 
Way back in 1960, when Black men suffered at the hands of whites in USA, he took his nation to great heights by winning the Olympic Gold in the Light heavyweight division. 
 
Upon his return to his homeland, the man realised that nothing had changed. Humiliated by his fellow white compatriot, he threw his medal in anger and later embraced Islam in order to be equal, thus getting rid of his "slave name".

The was the man who surpassed all, the man who was feared, yet loved by all.

His opponents may have endured tough time while pitted against him in the ring, but the memory of fighting this legend will forever be etched into their memory. 

Ali was considered crazy by many, including his childhood classmates. As a boy, he barely took the bus to school, or rode a bike. Ali would chase the bus for some odd 20 blocks to reach school, bearing testament to his long enduring stamina.

So ferocious with the gloves on, he ironically  opposed US's war against Vietnam, and did so openly. He stated "No Vietcong ever called me nigger." His actions led to the cancellation of his passport, as a result he could not fight for four years, losing out peak time in his career. once back in the ring. Ali mauled his opponents to win back the title.

"The Greatest" of all time was also a powerful symbol of civil rights movement for the black in USA during the 1960s and 1970s, attaining a cult status for his renegading nature.

Ali refused to be pinned down, not only in the ring, but in life itself.

The man made 61 pro appearances in his lifetime, winning 56 of them. His five losses came in the hands of Joe Frazier, Ken Norton, Leon Spinks, and Larry Holmes. Ali also registered 37 knock outs.

He defeated boxers including Tony Esperti, Jim Robinson, Donnie Fleeman, Alonzo Johnson, George Logan, Willi Besmanoff, Lamar Clark, Doug Jones and Henry Cooper. Ali also beat his former trainer and veteran boxer Archie Moore in a 1962 match.  

Muhammad Ali battled Parkinson's Syndrome for the last 30 years of his life. His rigorous bouts with boxing was a possible explanation for this progressive neurological disease.

A father of nine children, including seven daughters and two sons over four marriages, Ali's daughter Laila took up the gloves after her father and dominated the ring before retiring undefeated.

His last fight took place on December 11, 1981 in Nassau against Trevor Berbick, accounting for one of his five losses.

Year-wise achievement of Ali

1959 National Golden Gloves Light Heavyweight Champion
1959 National Amateur Athletic Union champion
1960 National Golden Gloves Light Heavyweight Champion
1960 National Amateur Athletic Union champion
1960 Gold medal, Rome Olympics, light-heavyweight boxing
1964-67 World Heavyweight Champion
1970 Dr. Martin Luther King Memorial Award
1974 Sportsman of the Year, Sports Illustrated
1974 Fighter of the Year, Boxing Writers Association
1974-78 World Heavyweight Champion
1978-79 World Heavyweight Champion
1979 Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters, Texas Southern Univesity
1979 Street named after him in Louisville, Kentucky
1985 Recognized for long, meritorious service, World Boxing Association
1987 Elected to Boxing Hall of Fame
1990 Inducted into International Boxing Hall of Fame
1996 Lights Olympic torch, Atlanta
1997 Arthur Ashe Award for Courage, ESPN
1997 Essence Living Legend Award

 
(Writing and compilation by Sudipto Maity) 

 

Muhammad Ali: Lord of the Ring and Life (1942-2016)

India Blooms News Service
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