The greatest mystery of the 1996 Olympic summer games in Atlanta, was solved at 28 minutes past midnight the day of the opening ceremony. The crowd erupted when the Olympic torch was passed to Muhammad Ali. The Olympic gold medal boxer Muhammad Ali lifted the torch and trembled before a crowd screaming ‘Ali’. He then sent the fire soaring high above the stadium to ignite the ceremonial Olympic cauldron. This moment was truly one of the finest ever to many sports fan, considering the tragedy Ali has been through, he still executed the mission as a true champion.
Ali was born Cassius Marcellus Clay in Louisville, KY., on January 17, 1942. He grew up in a poor family. His adolescence was influenced by a prejudice society, and the poor black neighborhood where he grew up. Ali had problems in school at an early stage and felt he wanted to do something different. His dreams were going to be fulfilled at an age of 12, when Joe Martin, a police officer and a boxing instructor, encouraged Ali to start with boxing.
Ali showed great skills at an early stage of his boxing career. At the age of 16, Ali had won two Golden Glove Titles, two National AAU Titles, he was by now nationally recognized. When the 1960 Rome Olympic Game was about to take off, Ali was provided with an opportunity to represent his country. At this point he had fought 103 amateur matches, and had only lost five.
Ali went with the Olympic team to Rome, and he did not only participate, he also won the precious Olympic gold medal. Ali returned home from Italy, and he felt that he had made a difference when he won the gold medal for his country. When he got back to his hometown, Louisville, he thought that he was going to be treated as a champion, but he was still discriminated by the white society. In anger, Ali decided to throw his Olympic gold medal into the Ohio river, as a protest against what he perceived as racism in his hometown. At this point Ali wanted to take a stand against the discrimination of the blacks in the US, and did so by his actions. By the age of 22 Clay had a professional boxing record of 19 wins and no loss. On February 25, 1964, Ali got the chance to fight for the world heavyweight championship. Despite his prior record, Ali was considered to be the underdog, few “experts” gave him a chance. Before the fight Ali used the media to psyche Sonny Liston, and this was going to be a character of Muhammad Ali. He proclaimed that ‘Sonny will fall in four’. Ali entered the ring as a 7-1 underdog to the fearsome Heavyweight Champion Charles ‘Sonny’ Liston. Ali used his speed and movement to thoroughly outbox the champion, who retires on his stool after the sixth round. Ali became the second youngest champion in history. After the fight Ali told the world his name now is Muhammad Ali and he has joined the Nation of Islam, a move that had a significant effect on his career. As a champion Ali now recognized his power in society, he used this power to support and speak for the Civil Rights. These actions were something the white society feared and disliked. Ali became a political symbol of the black society, maybe the person who influenced blacks the most after Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. During the nextcoming three years, Ali defended his title nine times including the match where Ali outpointed Ernie Terrell and became the undisputed Heavyweight Champion of the world. On April 28, 1967, one of the most controversial loss of the heavyweight title in boxing history, happened. Ali had been drafted by the army for induction into military service to fight in the Vietnam war. He refused to step forward when called, on grounds of his religious beliefs. Ali was immediately stripped of his heavyweight title, and received a five year prison sentence, which he immediately appeals. Ali had no more fights for the rest of 1967, nor any fights in 1968 and 1969, as he lost his peak physical years as a boxer to fight against his conviction. Whether Ali did right or wrong, I do not know, but he took his punishment for something he believed in, but we must remember the facts of the case. -Ali claimed he could not fight in the Vietnam war on grounds of his religious beliefs. -He had already taken his physical army test and did not qualify. His intelligence test had shown up in the 35th percentile, and to qualify you had to be in the 55th, or higher. -Most of the persons who became drafted were of the ages among 18-22, Ali was 25. -At this time a lot of black activists conveniently got their draft orders, and had to go to Vietnam. -Why should Ali fight for his country, when the country did not fight for him? His actions made him even more popular within the black society, and when the supreme court set the stage for his boxing return, when they overturned his conviction, Ali was greeted as a champion. In 1970 Ali made his return to the boxing ring, in his first two comeback matches, Ali looked far from impressive. His reputation still got him a title fight against Joe Frazier, this title fight that Ali lost was to be known as the fight of the century. Despite his first professional defeat, he still was determined to regain the heavyweight title, but it was going to take him three more years until he got the chance again. October 30, 1974, Ali versus Forman, a match the boxing world had been waiting for a long time. The match took place in Zaire and was called “The Rumble In The Jungle”, and Ali was once again considered to be the underdog. Many actually feared for his safety when he was going to take George Forman on, maybe the hardest hitter ever in boxing history. Ali fought a brilliant fight and used an awesome technique and won the match by KO, and Ali was once again the heavyweight champion of the world. Ali defended his title during a three year period, when the world once again had the chance to see a memorable fight. It was the third match between Joe Frazier and Ali, and it was going to be known as “The Thrilla In Manilla”. Ali had his hardest fight of his career, he was in great shape and won the match by TKO After the match he collapsed from exhaustion, and when he replied to journalists about the collapse he said, I quote, “as close to death I could imagine”. Ali lost his title in 1978 against the Olympic champion Leon Spinks, but he regained the title after 8 months and became the first fighter ever to regain the title three times. Ali announced his retirement on June 27, 1979, relinquishing his title. Unfortunately he decided to do a comeback, and fought two disastrous fights before he finally left the boxing ring for good. Ali left the boxing scene with an outstanding professional record; 56 wins and 5 losses. Ali had an outstanding career, and still has one outside the ring. Despite he is suffering from Parkinson’s disease, he has, and still does a lot, of charity work in order to help others. What Ali did do is unmeasurable, he gave all young blacks the hope of a successful life. They all knew Ali dropped out of school, but still made it. They also knew Ali became one of the greatest success in sports. He helped to get young black people light when all there was were black clouds. He helped young blacks’ eyes shine brighter than the sun, when their eyes were full of tears and fears. Ali wanted everyone to think he was the greatest, he may not have accomplish that, but to me he will always be the greatest.
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