“The greatest of all time,” “the people’s champion” and the “Louisville champion,” are some of the qualifying adjectives recognized around the world for the most famous boxer and the most controversial of all. time: Muhammad Ali (1942-2016), or Cassius Clay, What was the name under which he was born.
Some of the world famous magazines such as The Esquire, The Time and Magazine, have touted the figure of Muhammad Ali as the most influential athlete and figure of the late twentieth century. Some, after his death, still think that there was none and that there will never be another like him, especially because of the context in which the legend was born.
Below you can find a brief biography of Muhammad Ali which goes from his early years to his triumph in the boxing world.
Biography of Muhammad Ali
Muhammad Ali, born Cassius Marcellus Clay in 1942 in Louisville (Kentucky, USA), he came from a black middle class family who lived on artAs his father was engaged in painting portraits and religious representations for the privileged white classes, which displeased the child prodigy due to the racial segregation that the country was experiencing in this turbulent era of the Ku Klux Klan.
Attending high school like any other child of the time, certain facts frustrated Clay and marked his politico-social vision in a very premature way. Once, explains her mother Odessa Clay, they refused him a glass of water because he was black, A fact that infuriated Cassius and he returned home asking his parents for an explanation.
Recall that in the United States there were times of great controversy over the contradiction of having fought for freedom in World War II, along with in the country itself. he was separated into races between whites and blacks, And where you might see signs in stores like “here are not sold in black.”
Boxing, an accident in his life
Muhammad Ali never thought of boxing, let alone becoming the icon he has become in the world. An anecdotal and circumstantial fact would change his life forever: the theft of his bicycle. He began his hunt for the thief, when a local policeman stopped him to ask for an explanation. Muhammad Ali, in tears, told him he was going to “beat his father” to the thief.
The policeman in question, Joe E. Martin, advised him to train a few times in the punching bag before hooking someone up, to save their anger. Joe would later be his personal trainer, as he was his mentor and the first person to see the terrible potential Ali still had to tap into.
The Olympic Games in Rome in 1960
The event of the Olympic Games in Rome in 1960 marked the beginning and professionalization of amateur boxing. The first steps in the boxing world had shown no exception in Ali’s qualities, which kept him out of the orbit of professional talent scouts.
However, at the Olympics, he won the gold medal against more competent rivals on paper, Defeat all your opponents with relative ease. Back in his homeland in the United States, rather than coming back as heroes on his shoulders, his own people continued to call him “black,” a derogatory pseudonym by which he referred to African American citizens.
Muhammad Ali against establishment and segregation
In 1964, against all odds, he became the heavyweight world champion against Sonny Liston, another invincible black boxer until the arrival of Muhammad Ali, who beat him twice.
His recent successes, charisma and popularity have started to destabilize the authorities Americans, defenders of the status quo imposed by segregation. Thus, during the Vietnam War, Muhammad Ali was called upon to perform his military service by arbitrarily degrading himself to a lower category (on a military scale), forcing him to fight in the Asian country.
Ali refused, he was sentenced by the Supreme Court to serve a prison sentence and stripped of his title as a boxer, as well as the title of world champion. Far from feeling offended, Cassius Clay converted to Islam (hence his reputation), used his popularity to fight for black rights, attended protests, university lectures and public stages. to extend their struggle.
“I don’t understand why I have to go thousands of miles away from home and kill people who have done nothing to me when mine are the ones who call me black,” Ali said in one. speeches.
Boxing legend, political activist and mass idol
In the strictly sporting field, fights like that of “The fight of the century” (1971) against its sworn enemy Joe Frazier, “Rumble in the jungle” (1974) against “Big” George Foreman or Thrilla in Manilla (1975), against Joe Frazier for the third time, where the two boxers claimed to feel closer to death, are still today ‘ hui recognized as the most spectacular fights in the history of boxing, and Muhammad Ali participated in all of them.
Back in the political arena, Muhammad Ali it was done with the most important personalities in the fight for black rights. Among them, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and Rosa Parks, making the boxer another indispensable element for this cause.
finally a world icon has been erected for all: Rich, poor, athletes, journalists, politicians and disadvantaged young people. Lewis Hamilton, three-time Formula 1 champion, dedicated a victory to him the year of his death by shouting over the radio Ali’s famous motto “fly like a butterfly and sting like a bee!”.