The Boxer

 

Boxing was a sport very closely linked to civil rights. During the times of slavery, slave-owners would often pit their black slaves against each other in boxing matches. When boxing became legalized, white boxers would often refuse to fight black boxers, making it a very racially involved sport. Ali was able to relieve his frustration and his inner feeling through his actions in the ring, whether it was his intense verbal humiliation that he subjected on his opponents, his crafty footwork, his stinging jab, and especially his incredible hard work that he displayed not only in the ring, but in voicing his opinions, and training in the gym (Pierre). When asked about training, Ali was quoted as saying:

                   "I hate every minute of training. But i just say to myself: Don't quit. Suffer now, and live the rest of your life as a champion." (Ali)

 

-Ali's career fight record is 56 wins, 5 losses, with 37 of those wins by way of knockout. Of his 5 losses, he avenged 3 of them. Also, of his 5 losses, 3 of them came in his last 4 fights, where he was way past his prime and in the beginning stages of Parkinson's (McElrath).

-Ali's fighting stlye was unusual for a heavyweight, relying on speed rather than power. His hands were usually low, his feet were usually moving, and his lighting fast hands were rarely still. Despite his emphasis on speed, Ali had tremendously underrated power, and he used this to his advantage. He described his style as "Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee" (Ali)

-Ali would very often win his fights before stepping into the ring through his verbal tactics of taunting and psyching his opponent out.(Miller)


-It wasn’t until age twelve that Clay began boxing. He was spotted by a Louisville police officer names Joe Martin who saw potentially in him as an angry teenager. He brought him to the Louisville Columbia Gym where he learned to hone his technique under the trainer Fred Stoner. Although he was big, he moved much more gracefully than the other boxers his size which led to the development of his unique style (Parekh).

-As an amateur, Clay showed amazing potential, his heavy- weight size and fly- weight hand speed won him a gold medal at 1960 Olympics in Rome . He threw the medal into the Ohio River to signify his frustrations with the racial inequality that he recieved by a restaurant he wanted to eat at. He cruised through his competition as a professional and went on to become arguably the greatest heavy-weight boxer of all time.  (Consentino)

-With 19 wins and no losses Cassius Clay became the top contender for Sonny Liston’s title. In late February 1964 Clay defied the odds and silenced his critics by winning the World Heavy- Weight Championship in a bout with Sonny Liston. His success in the ring would continue for years to come. He defended his title 9 times until it was stripped of him in 1967 by the World Boxing Association because of his refusal to comply with the draft. He was also sentenced to five years in jail and returned to boxing professionally in 1970, winning his first two fights against Jerry Quarry and Oscar Bonavena (Parekh)

-In 1971 he was handed his first professional loss by Joe Frazier, a figure who Ali would eventually beat multiple times to secure his legacy as one of the best fighters the world has ever seen. As his career progressed Ali became known for his bombastic personality and the arrogance he spoke with at press conferences before fights (Parekh). He ended his professional career with 56 wins and 4 losses, with most of his losses coming towards the end of his career, while he was in the early stages of Parkinson’s disease. He used his fame to speak out against injustice in America and aid the Civil Rights movement. He knew people would listen to him, so he used that to his advantage (McElrath) 

-After returning to boxing in 1974, he eventually fought Joe Frazier, the new champion, and lost a 15 round war by a decision. He had his revenge though, defeating Joe Frazier two more times later on, one of those by knockout in the "Thrilla in Manila"

-Most likely Ali's shining moment in his career (One of many) was his destruction of "Big" George Foreman, knocking him out in the 8th round in the Rumble in the Jungle in Zaire, Africa. After Ali's defeat of Joe Frazier, Ali was obviously past his prime, but he continued to fight on and show his determination.

-He retired in 1978, but came back two years later to fight the new champ, Larry Holmes. Holmes was much younger, and he demolished the old and worn out Ali, who unknowingly was in the early stages of Parkinson's syndrome.  (Taylor)

-Today, Ali lives quiet with his wife and prays and answers fan mail. He never refuses to respond to a letter, showing that he still is just as inspirational as he always was.


 McElrath, Jessica, "Muhammad Ali: World Heavyweight Champion", About.com, 2001. <http://afroamhistory.about.com/od/muhammadali/a/bio_ali_m.htm>

 

Muhammad Ali: The Whole Story, Consentino, Joseph, 1996 , Warner Brothers Entertainment, Canadian HomeVideo, 2001

 

Parekh, Nilesh, "Muhammad Ali Biography", Buzzle:Intelligent Life on the Web, 2008, Editorial, 27 Jan 2005

 

Taylor, B. Kimberly. " Black History: Muhammad Ali." Contemporary Black Biography, Vol. 16. 1997. Gale cengage. 27May 2008.
<http://www.gale.cengage.com/free_resources/bhm/bio/ali_m.htm>

 

Miller, John, and Kenedi, Aaron, "Muhammad Ali: Ringside", Bulfinch Press, 1999, New York


 

Pierre, Hugo. "Ali & the black struggles of the 1960s" Socialist View, 2002. <http://www.geocities.com/socialistparty/Documents/Ali.htm>

 

Picture:  Muhammad Ali: Archives", Sports Illustrated, A CNN Network site, 2008 <http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/multimedia/photo_gallery/2005/11/22/gallery.tributeali/content.1.html>