Sure, he was a three-time World Heavyweight Champion, winning his first title over Sonny Liston in 1964 at the tender age of 22, won an Olympic gold medal at 18-years-old, and compiled a record of 56-5 with 37 knockouts. Cassius Clay, or Muhammad Ali, as most of the world knows him as, was known as the “G.O.A.T.”, or greatest of all time. His fights with Liston, three with Joe Frazier, and “The Rumble in the Jungle” with George Foreman in 1974 were all legendary.
Almost as famous for his mouth than what he did in the ring, Ali coined some of the greatest quotes of all time, such as “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee”, or “Rumble young man rumble.” Ali dealt with Parkinson’s disease for 32-years, before passing away on Friday night. The “Champ” will surely be missed by the world, but his greatest accomplishment did not come in the boxing ring against opponents like Liston, Frazier, or Foreman. His bout with America in 1967 might have been his greatest fight to date.
“His fights with Liston, three with Joe Frazier, and “The Rumble in the Jungle” with George Foreman in 1974 were all legendary.”
Ali rose to fame in the 1960s during a time where America was in the early stages of the Civil Rights Movement. America feared African-Americans like him: young, successful, unafraid, influential, and outspoken. Ali was strong-minded, and soon as he won his first boxing title in 1964, he converted to Islam, and changed his name from Cassius Clay to Muhammad Ali. He became close friends with Malcolm X, and the Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad, and just as they had done in the 1960s, often voiced his opinions on black and white relationships in America, and the Vietnam War.
Ali was strongly opposed to the war, stating that: “War is against the teachings of the Holy Quran.” He was a strong believer in his faith at the time, and was willing to do whatever it took to stand up for his rights, and not fight a war for a country that would not fight for him. Ali was drafted into the U.S. Armed Forces in 1967, and at his induction hearing, refused to step forward at the call of his name. The Champ was stripped of his boxing license and his boxing title, arrested, and faced five years in prison and a 10,000 dollar fine for simply refusing to fight in the war. America tried to knockout Ali out in the early rounds, but they must have forgotten that this was one of the most confident, and strong-willed men that has ever walked the Earth, and he was willing to go the entire 15 rounds with the country over his freedom.
“Almost as famous for his mouth than what he did in the ring, Ali coined some of the greatest quotes of all time, such as “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee”, or “Rumble young man rumble.”
He was found guilty for his resistance to the draft, after only 21 ,minutes of deliberation by the jury. Ali was knocked down, but got right back up before the 10-second count. His case went on to be heard by the Supreme Court, which would take some years. Ali was not able to box while his case was still ongoing, but used his time off to become an activist, speaking on the war, and civil rights in America. Then finally in 1971, Ali’s conviction was overturned by an 8-0 decision, and Ali would never spend a day in prison, defeating America by TKO.
If Ali was not already an American icon before, then he was now. He would return to the ring that very same year, battling Joe Frazier in 1971, in what was deemed “The Fight of the Century.” Ali lost that first against Frazier, but that did not take away from the previous bout he just had with the United States of America. Refusing to fight in the war, and actually winning was unheard of for a black man in that time. Ali’s stance proved that voicing your opinion, and fighting for your rights during that era was effective. But it would take a man of great strength, courage, eloquence to win the fight. Ali was just that, and more.
“America hated Ali when he was able to talk and voice his opinions on the treatment of blacks and Muslims the country, but loved him when was no longer able to speak for himself.”
Never had the country seen a sports figure use his namesake and influence to fight for the rights of his people and his beliefs. Ali gave up the prime of his career for his freedom, and is an example of what today’s black athletes should be doing, using their influence to liberate their people, and not just how to dunk a basketball, or catch a football. Ali was known as the greatest boxer of all-time, but he was also a great leader, and activist even to this day. Although Ali was robbed of his verbal grace by Parkinson’s disease, but he shied away from voicing his opinions, recently criticizing Presidential hopeful Donald Trump on his proposal to ban Muslims from coming to the United States.
America hated Ali when he was able to talk and voice his opinions on the treatment of blacks and Muslims the country, but loved him when was no longer able to speak for himself. But his actions spoke volumes, and paved the way for all black athletes after him. There will never be another Muhammad Ali, in the ring, or out of it. He was not afraid, and he never traded money or fame for his freedom of speech. He was the epitome of what a black male athlete should be.
1255 Total Views 1 Views Today