Posts Tagged ‘Sonny Liston

02
Apr
10

Muhammad Ali was a hero but Tiger Woods is pants

By Des Kelly
Last updated at 7:47 AM on 22nd March 2010

1966 photo of Muhammad Ali

Icon: Muhammad Ali photographed in 1966

According to the hype, Tiger Woods’ impending comeback is worthy of comparison to Ali’s spectacular return to the ring 40 years ago.

Should anyone voice that ridiculous opinion within earshot, feel free to drag them from their car and beat them lightly about the head with a golf club until they come to their senses. Any court of law will agree you were provoked.

Let us examine the evidence. On the one hand we have Ali, a cultural icon, a sportsman who politicised his status as world heavyweight champion, aligned himself with the black power movement and challenged America’s attitude to non-whites and the existing social order.

An individual who refused to be drafted to the Vietnam War on principle and argued his conversion to Islam had made him a conscientious objector.

‘I ain’t got no quarrel with the Viet Cong,’ he once declared. ‘They never called me n****r.

But Ali didn’t hide. He turned up for the Army induction ceremony and stubbornly declined to budge when his name was called out on three separate occasions.

For this, he was convicted, sentenced to five years in prison, fined $10,000, stripped of his heavyweight title and banned from fighting in the USA.

‘Overnight he became a n****r again,’ said one promoter.

While appealing against the verdict, he travelled through America, delivering anti-War speeches at college campuses and protest rallies until 1971, when his sentence was finally overturned in the Supreme Court.

But a year earlier, as this controversy was still raging, Ali was given a license to box in Georgia by a sympathetic senator.

Swathes of the American public despised his rough, radical politics and desperately wanted him to lose against his white opponent Jerry Quarry.

The probability of this happening was high after three years exile from the ring, but Ali stopped Quarry on cuts in front of the world that night and took a giant step back towards rehabilitation in his own land.

So, to recap the situation regarding two sportsmen making a return: On the one hand, we had Ali, an individual prepared to throw his life away for something he believed in despite enormous political pressure in a time of conflict and upheaval.

Muhammad Ali v Jerry Quarry in December 1970 in GeorgiaComeback kid: Muhammad Ali (right) stopped Jerry Quarry on cuts during his comeback bout in Georgia, December 1970

On the other, we have a golfer who lost some of his sponsors because he couldn’t keep his pecker in his pants. There is no comparison.

Woods is returning from his self-imposed exile, not a government ban, because the US Masters in Augusta provides the most exclusive, benign and cosseted environment imaginable in sport.

He will not be heckled or jeered. Augusta’s ferociously strict membership policy will see to that. For goodness sake, this is a place where even the birds need a permit to chirp in the azaleas.

We’re told he will need ‘courage’ out there. Some fear the psychological test could be too much. What tosh. It’s as hermetically sealed and controlled an environment as the creepiest Woods confessional press conference.

Tiger WoodsPublic: Woods ended a self-imposed exile with a press conference (above). He is unlikely to be heckled when he returns to the tour at Augusta (below)
Tiger Woods at the 12th hole at the Augusta National Golf Club

This is the one Major that allows him to do what he does best, concentrate solely on himself, play his game, block out the world and talk about very little except the state of greens afterwards.

That’s no bad thing. I don’t want to hear any more about his private life. I don’t want to read lurid texts sold to newspapers by the bimbos and porn stars he was dumb enough to mess with. I will, however, quite happily watch him play golf again because he has long been the best.

But whatever happens, he’s no hero. And he’s definitely no Ali.

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28
Mar
10

Padres thrilled when Muhammad Ali visits clubhouse

Muhammad Ali provided the San Diego Padres will the thrill of a lifetime when he made a clubhouse visit on Monday.

Dozens of players and coaches waited in a long line to shake hands and take pictures with the boxing great, who made a 45-minute appearance for the Athletes for Hope foundation.

“This is the top unless I ever meet Michael Jordan,” outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr. said. “I’m typically not star-struck, but I was today. I’m taking that picture home and I’m going to show it to my wife and have that for my kids when they get older.”

Outfielder Aaron Cunningham and reliever Mike Adams heard on Sunday that Ali might be visiting, so they each purchased a pair of boxing gloves just in case. Both walked away with autographs and a cherished memory.

“This was a different kind of shook up,” Cunningham said of his nerves. “You know how people just joke around and say, ‘The man, the myth, the legend?’ He really is the man, the myth, the legend. It was really cool and it was something I’ll never forget.”

Ali’s appearance coincided with the 39th anniversary of his loss to Joe Frazier in a 15-round title fight. Manager Bud Black said he watched many of Ali’s fights and was in awe of the boxer being in the clubhouse.

SGG-019103.jpg

“Any time you meet a legend, you feel the presence, the aura. It was cool,” Black said.

Padres officials say Ali is only scheduled to meet with a few big league teams.

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27
Mar
10

Muhammad Ali charges as much as $200,000 for appearances.

Three-time world heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali, known for his lyrical charm and boasts as much as for his powerful fists, has moved far beyond the boxing ring in both influence and purpose. Ali won an Olympic gold medal and later tossed it into a river because he was disgusted by racism in America. As a young man he was recruited by Malcolm X to join the Nation of Islam. He refused to serve in Vietnam–a professional fighter willing to serve time in jail for his pacifist ideals. He has contributed to countless, diverse charities and causes. And his later years have found him interested in world politics as he has battled to keep Parkinson’s disease at bay.

Muhammad Ali Photos

Muhammad Ali was born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr., on January 17, 1942, and was raised in a clapboard house at 3302 Grand Avenue in middle-class Louisville, Kentucky. He began boxing at the age of 12. A white Louisville patrolman named Joe Martin, who had an early television show called “Tomorrow’s Champions,” started Ali working out in Louisville’s Columbia Gym, but it was a black trainer named Fred Stoner who taught Ali the science of boxing. Stoner taught him to move with the grace of a dancer, and impressed upon him the subtle skills necessary to move beyond good and into the realm of great.

After winning an Olympic gold medal at 18, Ali signed the most lucrative contract–a 50-50 split–negotiated by a beginning professional in the history ofboxing, with a 12-member group of millionaires called the Louisville Sponsoring Group. Later, he worked his way into contention for the coveted heavyweight title shot by boasting and creating media interest at a time when, by his own admission, he was only ranked number nine on the list of contenders. Even from the beginning, it was clear that Ali was his own man–quick, strong-willed, original, and witty. In 1961 he told Sports Illustrated’s Gilbert Rogin, “Boxing is dying because everybody’s so quiet…. What boxing needs is more … Clays.” Ali knew that his rhymes and press-grabbing claims would infuse more interest and more money into the sport of boxing, and he was his own best public relations man. In February of 1964 he told readers of Sports Illustrated, “If I were like a lot of … heavyweight boxers … you wouldn’t be reading this story right now. If you wonder what the difference between them and me is, I’ll break the news: you never heard of them. I’m not saying they’re not good boxers. Most of them … can fight almost as good as I can. I’m just saying you never heard of them. And the reason for that is because they cannot throw the jive. Cassius Clay is a boxer who can throw the jive better than anybody.”

Muhammad Ali Images

The following month Ali–then still Cassius Clay–fought Sonny Liston in a match of classic contenders for the heavyweight championship of the world. The Miami fight almost single-handedly restored intelligence and balance to boxing. Cassius Clay had been chanting the war cry “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” for weeks; he beat Liston in a display of beautiful, controlled boxing. Liston could hit with deadly power, but Ali utilized his skills and courage with forethought and aplomb. He won the fight to become heavyweight champion of the world. At the tender age of 22 Ali knew that he was something above and beyond a great boxer: He had marketing sense, political finesse, and a feeling of noble purpose.

Throughout his career and life, Ali has always professed to want to help other black Americans–and he has, time and time again. When he returned from Italy, having just won an Olympic gold medal, he was so proud of his trophy that he wore it day and night and showed it to everyone, whether they wanted to see it or not. In the Philadelphia Inquirer Ali’s first wife remembered him saying “I was young, black Cassius Marcellus Clay, who had won a gold medal for his country. I went to downtown Louisville to a five-and-dime store that had a soda fountain. I sat down at the counter to order a burger and soda pop. The waitress looked at me…. ‘Sorry, we don’t serve coloreds,’ she said. I was furious. I went all the way to Italy to represent my country, won a gold medal, and now I come back to America and can’t even get served at a five-and-dime store. I went to a bridge, tore the medal off my neck and threw it into the river. That gold medal didn’t mean a thing to me if my black brothers and sisters were treated wrong in a country I was supposed to represent.”
Muhammad Ali Gallery
While in Miami, at the age of 21, Ali was inspired by human rights activist Malcolm X to become a member of the Muslim faith. The following year Malcolm X said of Ali, as was quoted by Houston Horn in Sports Illustrated, “[He] will mean more to his people than any athlete before him. He is more than [first black major-league baseball player] Jackie Robinson was, because Robinson is the white man’s hero. But Cassius is the black man’s hero. Do you know why? Because the white press wanted him to lose [his heavyweight championship bout] … because he is a Muslim. You notice nobody cares about the religion of other athletes. But their prejudice against Clay blinded them to his ability.” Twelve years later, on Face The Nation, Ali said “We don’t have Black Muslims, that’s a press word. We have white brothers, we have brown, red, and yellow, all colors can be Muslims…. I’m looking for peace one day with all people.” Cassius Clay, Jr., was given the name Muhammad Ali by Muslim patriarch Elijah Muhammad; it was not just a name, but a title meaning “beloved of Allah,” deity of the Muslim faith.

Ali retained his world heavyweight champion title in June of 1965 by again knocking out Sonny Liston, this time with a stunning right-hand punch to the side of the head. The knock-out blow was thrown with the astounding speed that separated Ali from other heavyweights; it had sufficient force to lift Liston’s left foot– upon which most of his weight was resting–clear off the canvas.

As a Muslim and thus, a conscientious objector, Muhammad Ali refused to even consider going to Vietnam in 1966; a tremendous public outcry erupted against him. According to Jack Olsen in Sports Illustrated, “The governor of Illinois found Clay ‘disgusting,’ and the governor of Maine said Clay ‘should be held in utter contempt by every patriotic American.’ An American Legion post in Miami asked people to ‘join in condemnation of this unpatriotic, loudmouthed, bombastic individual.’ The Chicago Tribune waged a choleric campaign against holding the next Clay fight in Chicago…. The noise became a din, the drumbeats of a holy war. TV and radio commentators, little old ladies … bookmakers, and parish priests, armchair strategists at the Pentagon and politicians all over the place joined in a crescendo of get-Cassius clamor.”

Although Ali had not been charged or arrested for violating the Selective Service Act–much less convicted–the New York State Athletic Commission and World Boxing Association suspended his boxing license and stripped him of his heavyweight title in May of 1967, minutes after he officially announced that he would not submit to induction. Ali said to Sports Illustrated contributor Edwin Shrake, “I’m giving up my title, my wealth, maybe my future. Many great men have been tested for their religious beliefs. If I pass this test, I’ll come out stronger than ever.” Eventually Ali was sentenced to five years in prison, released on appeal, and his conviction overturned three years later.

In November of 1970 Ali fought Jerry Quarry in Atlanta. His victory was a symbol of release and freedom to the 5,000 people watching the fight; Ali had personally survived his vilification by much of the American public, but more, he had reclaimed his professional reputation and prominence. Four months later Ali had the world as his audience when he went up against Joe Frazier in New York. There he fell from invincibility; suddenly Frazier reigned as heavyweight champ. “Man, I hit him with punches that’d bring down the walls of a city,” Frazier said to Mark Kram in Sports Illustrated. Ali responded, “It was like death. Closest thing to dyin’ that I know of.” Ali regained his title as world heavyweight champion in 1974 after defeating George Foreman in a bout staged in Zaire. Ali fought Frazier twice more, once in 1974 and again in 1975. Ali won both matches and secured his title. Taking time to reflect on the tumult of his fifteen-year boxing career, Ali co-wrote his autobiography–characteristically titled The Greatest–My Own Story–in 1975.

In 1982 Dr. Dennis Cope, director of the Medical Ambulatory Care Center at the University of California, Los Angeles, began treating Ali for Parkinson’s syndrome; Cope and colleague Dr. Stanley Fahn later theorized in the Chicago Tribune that Ali was suffering, more precisely, from Pugilistic Parkinsonism, brought on by repetitive trauma to the head–and that only an autopsy could confirm their suspicions. After losing a 1980 title bout to Larry Holmes, Ali had exhibited sluggishness and was misdiagnosed as having a thyroid condition; he was given a thyroid hormone. When Dr. Cope made the connection between Ali’s decreasing motor skills and Parkinson’s disease, he prescribed Sinemet (L-dopa). Ali was shortly restored to his previous level of energy and awareness; as long as he took his medication regularly, he was able to keep the disease in check. In 1988 Ali told New York Times Magazine contributor Peter Tauber: “I’ve got Parkinson’s syndrome. I’m in no pain…. If I was in perfect health–if I had won my last two fights–if I had no problem, people would be afraid of me. Now they feel sorry for me. They thought I was Superman. Now they can say ‘He’s human, like us. He has problems.'”

In 1984 another of Ali’s medical confidantes, Dr. Martin D. Ecker, ventured in the Boston Globe that Ali should have quit boxing long before he finally did–for the second and final time–in 1981 after losing to Trevor Berbick. His bout with Berbick was his 61st and final fight. By then Ali had been showing signs of neurological damage for over a year. Ali’s former doctor, Dr. Ferdie Pacheco, told the fighter to quit in 1977 when he first saw signs of Ali’s reflexes slowing down. Seven years later, Pacheco, a consultant and boxing commentator for NBC-TV, explained to Betsy Lehman in the Boston Globe why he feels Ali didn’t quit boxing in 1977: “The most virulent infection in the human race is the standing ovation. Once you’ve seen that, you can’t get off the stage. Once you feel that recognition … the roar of 50,000 people, you just don’t want to give it up.” When Ali initially surrendered his title in 1979, he was paid $250,000 to quit, but he eventually returned to his sport, perhaps as Pacheco suggested, because the recognition had become habit-forming.

Toward the end of Ali’s boxing career, and afterward, his ambitions took a decided turn toward statesmanship. In 1980 he cast his lot with the Democratic Party, supporting then-Presidential candidate Jimmy Carter. In August of that year, while in intense training for the Holmes fight, he found time to work the floor of the Democratic National Convention in New York City. He also functioned as something of a diplomat in February of 1985 when he attempted to secure the release of four kidnapped Americans in Lebanon; unfortunately, he and his three advisers were not successful.

During his career in the ring Ali made more than $50 million, two thirds of wwent to managerial expenses and taxes. He said to New York Times Magazine contributor Tauber in 1988, “I never talk about boxing. It just served its purpose. I was only about 11 or 12 years old when I said ‘I’m gonna get famous so I can help my people.'” Indicating his continuing desire to help people, in 1990 Ali visited Our Children’s Foundation, Inc., on Manhattan’s 125th Street. According to Bill Gallo in the New York Daily News, he addressed the children there, saying, “The sun has a purpose. The moon has a purpose. The snow has a purpose. Cows have a purpose. You were born for a purpose. You have to find your purpose. Go to school. Learn to read and write…. What is your purpose, your occupation? Find your purpose…. What do you have to find?” “Purpose!,” they shouted gleefully in unison. True to form, one of Ali’s favored inscriptions when signing autographs is “Love is the net where hearts are caught like fish.”

Although Parkinson’s syndrome has slowed Ali down, he still remain active–raising money for the Muhammad Ali Foundation and frequently appearing at sports tributes and fund-raisers. Muhammad’s wife Lonnie believes “Muhammad knows he has this illness for a reason. It’s not by chance. Parkinson’s disease has made him a more spiritual person. Muhammad believes God gave it to him to bring him to another level, to create another destiny.” she stated in People.

During the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, 3.5 billion people watched on television as three-time heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali slowly ascended the stadium steps with trembling hands to ignite the Olympic Flame. Everyone was deeply touched, however, No one was more moved than Ali himself. “He kept turning it [the torch] in his hands and looking at it. He knows now that people won’t slight his message because of his impairment.” said his wife Lonnie in People.

Muhammad has been blessed to meet with important dignitaries, including with President Clinton, Queen Elizabeth II, Nelson Mandela, and Pope John Paul II. His travels are his main source of income–charging as much as $200,000 for appearances. He usually travels 275 days out of the year. Although he enjoys his missionary work and public appearances, Ali’s greatest pleasure is when he is at home in Berrien Springs, Michigan with his family–wife Yolanda and his adopted son Asaad Amin.

In Berrien Springs, he lives a modest life in a house at the end of the road on an old farm. He has a pool and a pond and a security gate with an intercom. According to Kim Forburger, Ali’s assistant, “He’s the only man I know where the kids come to the gate and say ‘Can Muhammad come out and play?’

When asked if he has any regrets, Ali responds, “My children, I never got to raise them because I was always boxing and because of divorce,” he said in People. When asked whether he is sorry he ever got into the ring, he responded, “If I wasn’t a boxer, I wouldn’t be famous. If I wasn’t famous, I wouldn’t be able to do what I’m doing now.”

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Muhammad Ali Autographed Boxing Glove http://www.substancecollectables.com

SOURCES
Atlanta Journal and Constitution, December 13, 1988. Boston Globe, October 1, 1984. Chicago Tribune, October 9, 1984. Ebony, April 1969. Face the Nation (transcript of CBS-TV program), May 2, 1976. Newsweek, June 22, 1987. New York Daily News, February 2, 1989. New York Post, July 14, 1987. New York Times Magazine, July 17, 1988. People, Jan 13, 1997, p. 40. Philadelphia Inquirer, August 12, 1990. Spin, October 1991. Sports Illustrated, December 20, 1976; April 25, 1988. Washington Post, June 9, 1991. Who’s Who among African American, 10th edition 98/99, Gale Research, 1997.

22
Dec
09

Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali (born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr.; January 17, 1942) is a retired American boxer and three-time World Heavyweight Champion, who is widely considered one of the greatest heavyweight championship boxers of all time. As an amateur, he won a gold medal in the light heavyweight division at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome. After turning professional, he went on to become the first boxer to win the lineal heavyweight championship three times.

Originally known as Cassius Clay, Ali changed his name after joining the Nation of Islam in 1964, subsequently converting to Sunni Islam in 1975. In 1967, Ali refused to be inducted into the U.S. military based on his religious beliefs and opposition to the Vietnam War. He was arrested and found guilty on draft evasion charges, stripped of his boxing title, and his boxing license was suspended. He was not imprisoned, but did not fight again for nearly four years while his appeal worked its way up to the U.S. Supreme Court, where it was successful.

Nicknamed ‘The Greatest’, Ali was involved in several historic boxing matches. Notable among these are three with rival Joe Frazier and one with George Foreman, whom he beat by knockout to win the world heavyweight title for the second time. He suffered only five losses (four decisions and one TKO by retirement from the bout) with no draws in his career, while amassing 56 wins (37 knockouts and 19 decisions).[1] Ali was well known for his unorthodox fighting style, which he described as “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee”, and employing techniques such as the rope-a-dope.[2] He was also known for his pre-match hype, where he would ‘trash talk‘ opponents on television and in person some time before the match, often with rhymes. These personality quips, idioms along with an unorthodox fighting technique made him a cultural icon. In later life, Ali developed Parkinson’s disease due to the injuries he sustained throughout his career. In 1999, Ali was crowned “Sportsman of the Century” by Sports Illustrated and “Sports Personality of the Century” by the BBC.[3]

Muhammad Ali
Muhammad Ali NYWTS.jpg
Statistics
Name Muhammad Ali
Birth name Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr.
Nickname The Greatest, The Champ,
The Louisville Lip
Height 1.91 m (6 ft 3 in)
Reach  
Weight division Heavyweight
Nationality United States
Birth date January 17, 1942 (1942-01-17) (age 67)
Birth place Louisville, Kentucky, U.S.
Stance Orthodox
Boxing record
Total fights 61
Wins 56
Wins by KO 37
Losses 5
Draws 0
No contests 0

Biography

Amateur Career and Olympic Gold

Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. was born on January 17, 1942 in Louisville, Kentucky.[4] The elder of two boys, he was named after his father, Cassius Marcellus Clay, Sr., who was named for the 19th century abolitionist and politician of the same name. His father painted billboards and signs,[4] and his mother, Odessa Grady Clay, was a household domestic. Although Cassius Sr. was a Methodist, he allowed Odessa to bring up both Cassius and his younger brother Rudolph “Rudy” Clay (later renamed Rahman Ali) as Baptists.[5] He is a descendant of pre-Civil War era American slaves in the American South,[6] and is predominantly of African-American descent with smaller amounts of English and Irish ancestry.[7]

Clay was first directed toward boxing by the white Louisville police officer and boxing coach Joe E. Martin,[8] who encountered the 12-year-old fuming over the theft of his bicycle.[9] However, without Martin’s knowledge, Clay also began training with Fred Stoner, an African-American trainer working at the local community center.[10] In this way, Clay could make $4 a week on Tomorrow’s Champions, a local, weekly TV show that Martin hosted, while benefiting from the coaching of the more experienced Stoner, who continued working with Clay throughout his amateur career.

Under Stoner’s guidance, Cassius Clay went on to win six Kentucky Golden Gloves titles, two national Golden Gloves titles, an Amateur Athletic Union National Title, and the Light Heavyweight gold medal in the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome.[11] Clay’s amateur record was 100 wins with five losses.

Ali states (in his 1975 autobiography) that he threw his Olympic gold medal into the Ohio River after being refused service at a ‘whites-only’ restaurant, and fighting with a white gang.[12] Whether this is true is still debated, although he was given a replacement medal at a basketball intermission during the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, where he lit the torch to start the games.

Early professional career

After his Olympic triumph, Clay returned to Louisville to begin his professional career. There, on October 29, 1960, he won his first professional fight, a six-round decision over Tunney Hunsaker, who was the police chief of Fayetteville, West Virginia.

Standing tall, at 6-ft, 3-in (1.91 m), Clay had a highly unorthodox style for a heavyweight boxer. Rather than the normal style of carrying the hands high to defend the face, he instead relied on foot speed and quickness to avoid punches and carried his hands low.

From 1960 to 1963, the young fighter amassed a record of 19–0, with 15 knockouts. He defeated boxers such as Tony Esperti, Jim Robinson, Donnie Fleeman, Alonzo Johnson, George Logan, Willi Besmanoff, Lamar Clark (who had won his previous 40 bouts by knockout), Doug Jones and Henry Cooper.

Clay built a reputation by correctly predicting the round in which he would “finish” several opponents, and by boasting before his triumphs.[4] Clay admitted he adopted the latter practice from “Gorgeous” George Wagner, a popular professional wrestling champion in the Los Angeles area who drew thousands of fans.[4] Often referred to as “the man you loved to hate,” George could incite the crowd with a few heated remarks, and Ali followed suit.

Among Clay’s victims were Sonny Banks (who knocked him down during the bout), Alejandro Lavorante, and the aged Archie Moore (a boxing legend who had fought over 200 previous fights, and who had been Clay’s trainer prior to Angelo Dundee). Clay had considered continuing using Moore as a trainer following the bout, but Moore had insisted that the cocky “Louisville Lip” perform training camp chores such as sweeping and dishwashing. He also considered having his idol, Sugar Ray Robinson, as a manager, but instead hired Dundee.

Clay first met Dundee when the latter was in Louisville with light heavyweight champ Willie Pastrano. The teenaged Golden Gloves winner traveled downtown to the fighter’s hotel, called Dundee from the house phone, and was asked up to their room. He took advantage of the opportunity to query Dundee (who was working with, or had, champions Sugar Ramos and Carmen Basilio) about what his fighters ate, how long they slept, how much roadwork (jogging) they did, and how long they sparred.

Following his bout with Moore, Clay won a disputed 10-round decision over Doug Jones in a matchup that was named “Fight of the Year” for 1963. Clay’s next fight was against Henry Cooper, who knocked Clay down with a left hook near the end of the fourth round. The fight was stopped in the fifth due to deep cuts over Cooper’s eyes.

Despite these close calls, Clay became the top contender for Sonny Liston‘s title. Despite his impressive record, however, he was not widely expected to defeat the champ. The fight was scheduled for February 25, 1964 in Miami, Florida, but was nearly canceled when the promoter, Bill Faversham, heard that Clay had been seen around Miami and in other cities with the controversial Malcolm X. At the time, The Nation of Islam—of which Malcolm X was a member—was labeled as a hate group by most of the media.[citation needed] Because of this, news of this association was perceived as a potential gate-killer to a bout where, given Liston’s overwhelming status as the favorite to win (7–1 odds[13]), had Clay’s colorful persona and nonstop braggadocio as its sole appeal.

Faversham confronted Clay about his association with Malcolm X (who, at the time, was actually under suspension by the Nation as a result of controversial comments made in the wake of President Kennedy’s assassination). While stopping short of admitting he was a member of the Nation, Clay protested the suggested cancellation of the fight. As a compromise, Faversham asked the fighter to delay his announcement about his conversion to Islam until after the fight. The incident is described in the 1975 book The Greatest: My Own Story by Ali (with Richard Durham).

During the weigh-in on the day before the bout, the ever-boastful Clay, who frequently taunted Liston during the buildup by dubbing him “the big ugly bear” (among other things), declared that he would “float like a butterfly and sting like a bee,” and, summarizing his strategy for avoiding Liston’s assaults, said, “Your hands can’t hit what your eyes can’t see.”

First title fight and aftermath

At the pre-fight weigh-in, Clay’s pulse rate was around 120, more than double his norm of 54.[14] Liston, among others, misread this as nervousness. In the opening rounds, Clay’s speed kept him away from Liston’s powerful head and body shots, as he used his height advantage to beat Liston to the punch with his own lightning-quick jab.[14]

By the third round, Clay was ahead on points and had opened a cut under Liston’s eye.[14] Liston regained some ground in the fourth, as Clay was blinded by a substance in his eyes.[14] It is unconfirmed whether this was something used to close Liston’s cuts, or deliberately applied to Liston’s gloves;[14] however, Bert Sugar (author, boxing historian and insider) has recalled at least two other Liston fights in which a similar situation occurred, suggesting the possibility that the Liston corner deliberately attempted to cheat.

Liston began the fourth round looking to put away the challenger. As Clay struggled to recover his vision, he sought to escape Liston’s offensive. He was able to keep out of range until his sweat and tears rinsed the substance from his eyes, responding with a flurry of combinations near the end of the fifth round. By the sixth, he was looking for a finish and dominated Liston. Then, Liston shocked the boxing world when he failed to answer the bell for the seventh round, later claiming a shoulder injury as the reason. At the end of the fight, Clay boasted to the press that doubted him before the match, proclaiming, “I shook up the world!”

When Clay beat Liston, he was the youngest boxer (age 22) ever to take the title from a reigning heavyweight champion, a mark that stood until the mid 1980s. At the time, Floyd Patterson (dethroned by Liston) had been the youngest heavyweight champ ever (age 21), but he won the title during an elimination tournament following Rocky Marciano’s retirement by defeating Archie Moore, the light-heavyweight champion at the time.

In the rematch with Liston, which was held in May 1965 in Lewiston, Maine, Ali (who had by then publicly converted to Islam and changed his name) won by knockout in the first round as a result of what came to be called the “phantom punch.” Many believe that Liston, possibly as a result of threats from Nation of Islam extremists, or in an attempt to “throw” the fight to pay off debts, waited to be counted out (see Muhammad Ali versus Sonny Liston). Others, however, discount both scenarios and insist that it was a quick, chopping Ali punch to the side of the head that legitimately felled Liston.

Early title defenses

On November 22, 1965, Ali fought Floyd Patterson in his second title defense. Patterson lost by technical knockout at the end of the 12th round. As would later occur with Ernie Terrell, many sportswriters accused Ali of “carrying” Patterson so that he could physically punish him without knocking him out. Ali countered that Patterson, who said his punching prowess was limited when he strained his sacroiliac, was not as easy to down as may have appeared.

Ali was scheduled to fight WBA champion Ernie Terrell (the WBA stripped Ali of his title after his agreement to fight a rematch with Liston) on 29 March 1966, but Terrell backed out. Ali won a 15-round decision against substitute opponent George Chuvalo. He then went to England and defeated Henry Cooper by stoppage on cuts May 21, and knocked out Brian London in the third round in August. Ali’s next defense was against German southpaw Karl Mildenberger, the first German to fight for the title since Max Schmeling. In one of the tougher fights of his life, Ali stopped his opponent in round 12.

Ali returned to the United States in November 1966 to fight Cleveland “Big Cat” Williams in the Houston Astrodome. According to the Sports Illustrated account, the bout drew an indoor world record 35,460 fight fans. A year and a half before the fight, Williams had been shot in the stomach at point-blank range by a Texas policeman. As a result, Williams went into the fight missing one kidney and 10 feet of his small intestine, and with a shriveled left leg from nerve damage from the bullet. Ali beat Williams in three rounds.

On February 6, 1967, Ali returned to a Houston boxing ring to fight Terrell in what became one of the uglier fights in boxing. Terrell had angered Ali by calling him Clay, and the champion vowed to punish him for this insult. During the fight, Ali kept shouting at his opponent, “What’s my name, Uncle Tom … What’s my name?” Terrell suffered 15 rounds of brutal punishment, losing 13 rounds on two judges’ scorecards, but Ali did not knock him out. Analysts, including several who spoke to ESPN on the sports channel’s “Ali Rap” special, speculated that the fight continued only because Ali wanted to thoroughly punish and humiliate Terrell. After the fight, Tex Maule wrote, “It was a wonderful demonstration of boxing skill and a barbarous display of cruelty.” When asked about this during a replay of the fight on ABC’s popular “Wide World of Sports” by host Howard Cosell, Ali said he was not unduly cruel to Terrell- that boxers are paid to punch all their opponents into submission or defeat. He pointed out that if he had not hit and hurt Terrell, Terrell would have hit and hurt him, which is standard practice. Cosell’s repeated reference to the topic surprised Ali. Following his final defense against Zora Folley in March 1967 Ali would be stripped of his title the following month for refusing to be drafted into the Army[4] and had his professional boxing license suspended.

Tae Kwon Do

Ali learned how to punch (the unique “accu-punch” where one spins the wrist right at the moment of strike) from the Tae Kwon Do master Jhoon Goo Rhee[15]

Religion

Ali at an address by Elijah Muhammad

After winning the championship from Liston in 1964, Clay revealed that he was a member of the Nation of Islam (often called the Black Muslims at the time) and the Nation gave Clay the name Cassius X, discarding his surname as a symbol of his ancestors’ enslavement, as had been done by other Nation members. On Friday, March 6, 1964, Malcolm X took Clay on a guided tour of the United Nations building (for a second time). Malcolm X announced that Clay would be granted his “X.” That same night, Elijah Muhammad recorded a statement over the phone to be played over the radio that Clay would be renamed Muhammad (one who is worthy of praise) Ali (fourth rightly guided caliph). Only a few journalists (most notably Howard Cosell) accepted it at that time. Venerable boxing announcer Don Dunphy addressed the champion by his adopted name, as did British reporters. The adoption of this name symbolized his new identity as a member of the Nation of Islam.

Many sportswriters of the early 1960s reported that it was Ali’s brother, Rudy Clay, who converted to Islam first (estimating the date as 1961). Others wrote that Clay had been seen at Muslim rallies a few years before he fought Liston. Ali’s own version is that he would sneak into Nation of Islam meetings through the backdoor roughly three years before he fought Sonny Liston. He was afraid that if others knew he wouldn’t be able to fight for his title.

Aligning himself with the Nation of Islam made him a lightning rod for controversy, turning the outspoken but popular champion into one of that era’s most recognizable and controversial figures. Appearing at rallies with Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad and declaring his allegiance to him at a time when mainstream America viewed them with suspicion — if not outright hostility — made Ali a target of outrage, as well as suspicion. Ali seemed at times to provoke such reactions, with viewpoints that wavered from support for civil rights to outright support of separatism. For example, Ali once stated, in relation to integration: “We who follow the teachings of Elijah Muhammad don’t want to be forced to integrate. Integration is wrong. We don’t want to live with the white man; that’s all.”[16] And in relation to inter-racial marriage: “No intelligent black man or black woman in his or her right black mind wants white boys and white girls coming to their homes to marry their black sons and daughters.”[16] Indeed, Ali’s religious beliefs at the time included the notion that the white man was “the devil” and that white people were not “righteous.” Ali claimed that white people hated black people.

Ali converted from the Nation of Islam sect to mainstream Sunni Islam in 1975. In a 2004 autobiography, written with daughter Hana Yasmeen Ali, Muhammad Ali attributes his conversion to the shift toward Sunni Islam made by Warith Deen Muhammad after he gained control of the Nation of Islam upon the death of Elijah Muhammad in 1975. Later in 2005 he embraced spiritual practices of Sufism.[17]

Vietnam War

In 1964, Ali failed the U.S. Armed Forces qualifying test because his writing and spelling skills were sub-par. However, in early 1966, the tests were revised and Ali was reclassified as 1A.[4] This classification meant he was now eligible for the draft and induction into the U.S. Army during a time when the United States was involved in the Vietnam War. When notified of this status, he declared that he would refuse to serve in the United States Army and publicly considered himself a conscientious objector.[4] Ali stated that “War is against the teachings of the Holy Qur’an. I’m not trying to dodge the draft. We are not supposed to take part in no wars unless declared by Allah or The Messenger. We don’t take part in Christian wars or wars of any unbelievers.” Ali also famously said in 1966: “I ain’t got no quarrel with them Viet Cong … They never called me nigger.” Rare for a heavyweight boxing champion in those days, Ali spoke at Howard University, where he gave his popular “Black Is Best” speech to 4,000 cheering students and community intellectuals after he was invited to speak at Howard by a Howard sociology professor, Nathan Hare, on behalf of the Black Power Committee, a student protest group.[18][19]

Appearing shortly thereafter for his scheduled induction into the U.S. Armed Forces on April 28, 1967 in Houston, he refused three times to step forward at the call of his name. An officer warned him he was committing a felony punishable by five years in prison and a fine of $10,000. Once more, Ali refused to budge when his name was called. As a result, he was arrested and on the same day the New York State Athletic Commission suspended his boxing license and stripped him of his title. Other boxing commissions followed suit.

At the trial on June 20, 1967, after only 21 minutes of deliberation, the jury found Ali guilty.[4] After a Court of Appeals upheld the conviction, the case went to the U.S. Supreme Court. During this time, the public began turning against the war and support for Ali began to grow. Ali supported himself by speaking at colleges and universities across the country, where opposition to the war was especially strong. On June 28, 1971, the Supreme Court reversed his conviction for refusing induction by unanimous decision in Clay v. United States.[4] The decision was not based on, nor addressed, the merits of Clay’s/Ali’s claims per se; rather, the Government’s failure to specify which claims were rejected and which were sustained, constituted the grounds upon which the Court reversed the conviction.[20]

The Fight of the Century

Main article: Fight of the Century

In 1970, while his case was still on appeal, Ali was allowed to fight again. With the help of a State Senator, he was granted a license to box in Georgia because it was the only state in America without a boxing commission. In October 1970, he stopped Jerry Quarry on a cut after three rounds. Shortly after the Quarry fight, the New York State Supreme Court ruled that Ali had been unjustly denied a boxing license. Once again able to fight in New York, he fought Oscar Bonavena at Madison Square Garden in December 1970. After a tough 14 rounds, Ali stopped Bonavena in the 15th, paving the way for a title fight against Joe Frazier, who was himself undefeated.

Ali and Frazier met in the ring on March 8, 1971, at Madison Square Garden. The fight, known as ‘”The Fight of the Century,” was one of the most eagerly anticipated bouts of all time and remains one of the most famous. It featured two skilled, undefeated fighters, both of whom had legitimate claims to the heavyweight crown. Frank Sinatra — unable to acquire a ringside seat — took photos of the match for Life magazine. Legendary boxing announcer Don Dunphy and actor and boxing aficionado Burt Lancaster called the action for the broadcast, which reached millions of people. The fight lived up to the hype, and Frazier punctuated his victory by flooring Ali with a hard, leaping left hook in the 15th and final round. Frazier retained the title on a unanimous decision, dealing Ali his first professional loss.

In 1973, Ali fought Ken Norton, who broke Ali’s jaw and won by split decision in 12 rounds. Ali won the rematch, also by split decision, on September 10, 1973, which set up Ali-Frazier II, a nontitle rematch with Joe Frazier, who had already lost his title to George Foreman. The bout was held on January 28, 1974, with Ali winning a unanimous 12-round decision.

The Rumble in the Jungle

Main article: Rumble in the Jungle

In one of the biggest upsets in boxing history, Ali regained his title on October 30, 1974 by defeating champion George Foreman in their bout in Kinshasa, Zaire. Hyped as “The Rumble In The Jungle,” the fight was promoted by Don King.

Almost no one, not even Ali’s long-time supporter Howard Cosell, gave the former champion a chance of winning. Analysts pointed out that Joe Frazier and Ken Norton had given Ali four tough battles in the ring and won two of them, while Foreman had knocked out both of them in the second round. As a matter of fact, so total was the domination that, in their bout, Foreman had knocked down Frazier an incredible six times in only four minutes and 25 seconds.

During the bout, Ali employed an unexpected strategy. Leading up to the fight, he had declared he was going to “dance” and use his speed to keep away from Foreman and outbox him. However, in the first round, Ali headed straight for the champion and began scoring with a right hand lead, clearly surprising Foreman. Ali caught Foreman nine times in the first round with this technique but failed to knock him out. He then decided to take advantage of the young champion’s weakness: staying power. Foreman had won 37 of his 40 bouts by knockout, mostly within three rounds. Eight of his previous bouts didn’t go past the second round. Ali saw an opportunity to outlast Foreman, and capitalized on it.

In the second round, the challenger retreated to the ropes — inviting Foreman to hit him, while counterpunching and verbally taunting the younger man. Ali’s plan was to enrage Foreman and absorb his best blows to exhaust him mentally and physically. While Foreman threw wide shots to Ali’s body, Ali countered with stinging straight punches to Foreman’s head. Foreman threw hundreds of punches in seven rounds, but with decreasing technique and potency. Ali’s tactic of leaning on the ropes, covering up, and absorbing ineffective body shots was later termed “The Rope-A-Dope.”

By the end of the seventh round, Foreman was exhausted. In the eighth round, Ali dropped Foreman with a combination at center ring and Foreman failed to make the count. Against the odds, Ali had regained the title. Many years later, Foreman would become champ again at age 45. Muhammad Ali (Foreman’s best friend at the time) did not attend the title bout. When asked why, he said “I would deviate attention from George. It was his moment, not mine.”

The “Rumble in the Jungle” was the subject of a 1996 Academy Award winning documentary film, When We Were Kings. The match was ranked seventh in the British television program The 100 Greatest Sporting Moments. The fight and the events leading up to it are extensively depicted in both John Herzfeld‘s 1997 docudrama Don King: Only in America and Michael Mann‘s 2001 docudrama, Ali.

The Thrilla in Manila

Main article: Thrilla in Manila

Ali being interviewed by WBAL-TV‘s Curt Anderson, 1978, Baltimore, Maryland

In March 1975, Ali faced Chuck Wepner in a bout that inspired the original Rocky. While it was largely thought that Ali would dominate, Wepner surprised everyone by not only knocking Ali down in the ninth round, but nearly going the distance. Ali eventually stopped Wepner in the fading minutes of the 15th round. Following a title defense with Ron Lyle, in July Ali faced Joe Bugner, winning a 15 round decision.

On October 1, 1975, Ali fought Joe Frazier for the third time.[4] The bout was promoted as the Thrilla in Manila[4] by Don King, who had ascended to prominence following the Ali-Foreman fight. The anticipation was enormous for this final clash between two great heavyweights. Ali believed Frazier was “over the hill” by that point. Ali’s frequent insults, slurs and demeaning poems increased the anticipation and excitement for the fight, but also enraged a determined Frazier. Regarding the fight, Ali famously remarked, “It will be a killa… and a chilla… and a thrilla… when I get the gorilla in Manila.”

The fight lasted 14 grueling rounds in temperatures approaching 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Ali won many of the early rounds, but Frazier staged a comeback in the middle rounds, while Ali lay on the ropes. By the late rounds, however, Ali had reasserted control and the fight was stopped when Frazier was unable to answer the bell for the 15th and final round (his eyes were swollen closed). Frazier’s trainer, Eddie Futch, refused to allow Frazier to continue.

Subsequent bouts and retirement

In February 1976, Ali easily beat Jean-Pierre Coopman. In April 1976 he defeated Jimmy Young and then Richard Dunn the following month, which would turn out to be Ali’s last knockout victory. Following that fight, he staged an exhibition match with professional wrestler and Mixed Martial Artist Antonio Inoki.[21] Although widely perceived as a publicity stunt, the match against Inoki would have a long-term detrimental affect on Ali’s mobility. Inoki spent much of the fight on the ground trying to damage Ali’s legs, while Ali spent most of the fight dodging the kicks or staying on the ropes.[22] At the end of 15 rounds, the bout was called a draw. Ali’s legs, however, were bleeding, leading to an infection. He suffered two blood clots in his legs as well.[21]

In September 1976, at Yankee Stadium, Ali faced Ken Norton in their third fight, with Ali winning a close but unanimous 15-round decision. 1977 saw Ali defend his title against Alfredo Evangelista and Earnie Shavers. Fight doctor Ferdie Pacheco left Ali’s camp following the Shavers fight after being rebuffed for advising Ali to retire.

In February 1978, Ali lost the heavweight title to 1976 Olympics Champion Leon Spinks. On September 15, 1978, Ali fought a rematch in the New Orleans Louisiana Superdome against Spinks for the WBA version of the Heavyweight title, winning it for a record third time. Ali retired following this victory on June 27, 1979, but returned in 1980 to face current champion Larry Holmes in an attempt to win a heavyweight title an unprecedented four times. Angelo Dundee refused to let his man come out for the 11th round, in what became Ali’s only loss by anything other than a decision. Ali’s final fight, a loss by unanimous decision after 10 rounds, was to up-and-coming challenger Trevor Berbick in 1981.

Ali’s legacy

Muhammad Ali defeated every top heavyweight in his era, which has been called the golden age of heavyweight boxing. Ali was named “Fighter of the Year” by Ring Magazine more times than any other fighter, and was involved in more Ring Magazine “Fight of the Year” bouts than any other fighter. He is an inductee into the International Boxing Hall of Fame and holds wins over seven other Hall of Fame inductees. He is also one of only three boxers to be named “Sportsman of the Year” by Sports Illustrated.

In 1978, three years before Ali’s permanent retirement, the Board of Aldermen in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky voted 6–5 to rename Walnut Street to Muhammad Ali Boulevard. This was controversial at the time, as within a week 12 of the 70 street signs were stolen. Earlier that year, a committee of the Jefferson County Public Schools considered renaming Central High School in his honor, but the motion failed to pass. At any rate, in time, Muhammad Ali Boulevard—and Ali himself—came to be well accepted in his hometown.[23]

In 1993, the Associated Press reported that Ali was tied with Babe Ruth as the most recognized athletes, out of over 800 dead or alive athletes, in America. The study, conducted by Nye Lavalle‘s Sports Marketing Group, found that over 97% of Americans, over 12-years of age, identified both Ali and Ruth.[24]

He was the recipient of the 1997 Arthur Ashe Courage Award.

In retirement

Muhammad Ali in retirement

Ali was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Syndrome in 1984,[25][26] a disease for which those subject to severe head trauma, such as boxers, are many times more susceptible.[27] Despite the disability, he remains a beloved and active public figure. In 1985, he served as a guest referee at the inaugural WrestleMania event.[28][29] In 1987 he was selected by the California Bicentennial Foundation for the U.S. Constitution to personify the vitality of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights in various high profile activities. Ali rode on a float at the 1988 Tournament of Roses Parade, launching the U.S. Constitution’s 200th birthday commemoration. He also published an oral history, Muhammad Ali: His Life and Times by Thomas Hauser, in 1991. Ali received a Spirit of America Award calling him the most recognized American in the world. In 1996, he had the honor of lighting the flame at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia.

The Muhammad Ali Center, alongside Interstate 64 on Louisville‘s riverfront

He appeared at the 1998 AFL (Australian Football League) Grand Final, where Anthony Pratt invited him to watch the game. He also greets runners at the start line of the Los Angeles Marathon every year.

In 1999, the BBC produced a special version of its annual BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award ceremony, and Ali was voted their Sports Personality of the Century,[30] receiving more votes than the other four contenders combined. His daughter Laila Ali also became a boxer in 1999,[31] despite her father’s earlier comments against female boxing in 1978: “Women are not made to be hit in the breast, and face like that… the body’s not made to be punched right here [patting his chest]. Get hit in the breast… hard… and all that.”[32]

On September 13, 1999, Ali was named “Kentucky Athlete of the Century” by the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame in ceremonies at the Galt House East.[33]

Ali’s Presidential Medal of Freedom on display at the Ali Center

In 2001, a biographical film, entitled Ali, was made, directed by Michael Mann, with Will Smith starring as Ali. The film received mixed reviews, with the positives generally attributed to the acting, as Smith and supporting actor Jon Voight earned Academy Award nominations. Prior to making the Ali movie, Will Smith had continually rejected the role of Ali until Muhammad Ali personally requested that he accept the role. According to Smith, the first thing Ali said about the subject to Smith was: “You ain’t pretty enough to play me.”

On November 17, 2002, Muhammad Ali went to Afghanistan as “U.N. Messenger of Peace“.[34] He was in Kabul for a three-day goodwill mission as a special guest of the United Nations.[35]

On January 8, 2005, Muhammad Ali was presented with the Presidential Citizens Medal by President George W. Bush.

He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom at a White House ceremony on November 9, 2005,[36][37] and the “Otto Hahn Peace Medal in Gold” of the United Nations Association of Germany (DGVN) in Berlin for his work with the US civil rights movement and the United Nations (December 17, 2005).

As Mrs. Lonnie Ali looks on, President George W. Bush embraces Muhammad Ali after presenting him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom on November 9, 2005, during ceremonies at the White House.

On November 19, 2005 (Ali’s 19th wedding anniversary), the $60 million non-profit Muhammad Ali Center opened in downtown Louisville. In addition to displaying his boxing memorabilia, the center focuses on core themes of peace, social responsibility, respect, and personal growth.

According to the Ali Center website, “Since he retired from boxing, Ali has devoted himself to humanitarian endeavors around the globe. He is a devout Muslim, and travels the world over, lending his name and presence to hunger and poverty relief, supporting education efforts of all kinds, promoting adoption and encouraging people to respect and better understand one another. It is estimated that he has helped to provide more than 22 million meals to feed the hungry. Ali travels, on average, more than 200 days per year.”

At the FedEx Orange Bowl on January 2, 2007, Ali was an honorary captain for the Louisville Cardinals wearing their white jersey, number 19. Ali was accompanied by golf legend Arnold Palmer, who was the honorary captain for the Wake Forest Demon Deacons, and Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade.

A youth club in Ali’s hometown and a species of rose (Rosa ali) have also been named after him. On June 5, 2007, he received an honorary doctorate of humanities at Princeton University‘s 260th graduation ceremony.[38]

Ali lives in Scottsdale, Arizona with his fourth wife, Yolanda ‘Lonnie’ Ali.[39] They own a house in Berrien Springs, Michigan, which is for sale. On January 9, 2007, they purchased a house in eastern Jefferson County, Kentucky for $1,875,000.[40] Lonnie converted to Islam from Catholicism in her late 20s.[41]

On the 17th of August 2009, it was voted unanimously by the town council of Ennis, Co Clare, Ireland to make Ali the first Freeman of Ennis. Ennis was the birthplace of Ali’s great grandfather before he emigrated to the U.S. in the 1860s, before eventually settling in Kentucky.[42] On 1 September 2009, Ali visited the town of Ennis and at a civic reception he received the honour of the freedom of the town.[43]

Ranking in heavyweight history

Muhammad Ali’s boxing gloves are preserved in the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of American History

Ali is generally considered to be one of the greatest heavyweights of all time by boxing commentators and historians. Ring Magazine, a prominent boxing magazine, named him number 1 in a 1998 ranking of greatest heavyweights from all eras.[44] In a 1971 article, Nat Fleischer, the founder of the Ring who saw every heavyweight champion from Jim Jeffries to Joe Frazier, refused to include Ali in his all-time top ten, saying: “he does not qualify for rating with the greatest heavyweights of all time”. Fleischer was writing after Ali’s loss to Frazier, several years before his performance against Foreman and rematches with Frazier.

Ali was named the second greatest fighter in boxing history by ESPN.com behind only welterweight and middleweight great Sugar Ray Robinson.[45] In December 2007, ESPN listed Ali second in its choice of the greatest heavyweights of all time, behind Joe Louis.[46]

Personal life

Muhammad Ali has been married four times and has seven daughters and two sons. Ali met his first wife, cocktail waitress Sonji Roi, approximately one month before they married on August 14, 1964. Roi’s objections to certain Muslim customs in regard to dress for women contributed to the breakup of their marriage. They divorced on January 10, 1966.

On August 17, 1967, Ali (aged 25) married 17-year old Belinda Boyd. After the wedding, she converted to Islam and changed her name to Khalilah Ali, though she was still called Belinda by old friends and family. They had four children: Maryum (b. 1968), Jamillah and Liban (b. 1970), and Muhammad Ali Jr. (b. 1972).[47]

In 1975, Ali began an affair with Veronica Porsche, an actress and model. By the summer of 1977, Ali’s second marriage was over and he had married Veronica.[48] At the time of their marriage, they had a baby girl, Hana, and Veronica was pregnant with their second child. Their second daughter, Laila, was born in December 1977. By 1986, Ali and Veronica were divorced.

On November 19, 1986, Ali married Yolanda Ali. They had been friends since 1964 in Louisville. They have one adopted son at 5 year old, Asaad Amin.[47][49][50][51][52]

Ali has two other daughters, Miya and Khaliah, from extramarital relationships.[47][53]

Ali in the media and popular culture

As a world champion boxer and social activist, Ali has been the subject of numerous books, films and other creative works. In 1963, he released an album of spoken word on Columbia Records titled I am the Greatest! He has appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated on 37 different occasions, second only to Michael Jordan.[54] His autobiography The Greatest: My Own Story, written with Richard Durham, was published in 1975.[55] When We Were Kings, a 1996 documentary about the Rumble in the Jungle, won an Academy Award,[56] and the 2001 biopic Ali garnered an Oscar nomination for Will Smith‘s portrayal of the lead role.[57]

For contributions to the theater industry, Muhammed Ali was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6801 Hollywood Boulevard.[58]

29
Nov
09

Muhammad Ali Visits THE LION KING.

Former three-time World Heavyweight Champion Muhammad Ali and his family attended the Friday, January 9th performance of Disney’s THE LION KING at ASU Gammage Auditorium in Tempe, AZ. (Mr. Ali is a resident of Scottsdale, Arizona).

THE LION KING National Tour performs in Tempe through Sunday, February 8, 2009.

Boxer, born Cassius Marcellus Clay on January 17, 1942 in Louisville, Kentucky, USA. As an amateur boxer (1954-60), winning 100 of 108 matches, he became the 1960 Olympic light-heavyweight champion. Financed by a group of Louisville businessmen, he turned professional, and by 1963 had won his first 19 fights. He won the world heavyweight title in 1964, defeating the purportedly invincible Sonny Liston when he retired at the end of the sixth round.

At that time he joined the Black Muslims and adopted the name Muhammad Ali. After defending the championship nine times within two years, in 1967 he refused to be drafted into the army on religious grounds, and was stripped of his title and barred from the ring. Ali’s action earned him both respect and anger from different quarters, but he did not box for three-and-a-half years; he took his case to the Supreme Court and had his boxing licence restored in 1970. In 1971 he was beaten by Joe Frazier, but beat him in 1974 in Zaire, and went on to meet George Foreman later that year, knocking him out in eight rounds to regain his title. He was beaten by Leon Spinks in a split decision (Feb 1978), but regained the title the same year – the first man to win the world heavyweight title three times. Since his retirement he has become one of the most beloved figures the world over.

Disney’s The Lion King continues to reign as one of the most popular shows on Broadway and around the world. The Lion King has been seen by over 45 million people in 11 different countries, including cities such as Sydney, Osaka, Shanghai, Taipei, Johannesburg, Seoul, Mexico City and Honolulu. In addition to Broadway and a domestic national tour, The Lion King can currently be seen in London, Hamburg, Paris, Tokyo and Fukuoka. On May 2, 2009, a sit-down production of The Lion King will open at Mandalay Bay Theatre – the first ever full-length Disney Theatrical Production to be launched in Las Vegas.

Disney’s The Lion King is currently playing at Broadway’s Minskoff Theatre. The show officially opened at the New Amsterdam Theatre, its original home, on Thursday, November 13, 1997. Now in its 11th year, the global phenomenon is the winner of more than 70 major awards worldwide, including the 1998 Tony Award® and NY Drama Critics Award for Best Musical, the 1999 Grammy® for Best Musical Show Album, the 1999 Laurence Olivier Awards (UK) for Best Choreography and Best Costume Design and three Moliere Awards (France) including musical, lighting design and costume design.

For information on The Lion King please visit, www.disney.go.com.

Muhammad Ali Bio Courtesy of Biography.com

Photo Credit: Tim Trumble/ASU Gammage.


Phindile Mkhize (Rafiki), Muhammad Ali, Dionne Randolph (Mufasa), and Timothy Carter (Scar)


Chaz Marcus Fleming (Young Simba), Muhammad Ali and Marquis Kofi Rodriguez (Young Simba)


Muhammad Ali, Ah-Niyah Neal (Young Nala) and Sade LouAnn Murray (Young Nala)


Muhammad Ali and the cast of Disney’s The Lion King National Tour.

 
29
Nov
09

The Greatest of All Time Muhammad Ali – Luxury Robe

 

 

Kick your swagger up a notch with this fly Muhammad Ali Luxury Robe from WornFree.com.

The velour robe is available in white and comes printed with Ali’s famous words, “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” stitched on the front pocket. Apparently, hip-hop heavyweights Jay-Z and Lil’ Wayne have already copped their robes, so you don’t want to be left out.

Ladies, knock your boyfriends out by buying this robe as a Christmas gift.

 

(Available for Pre-order: $120)

Cop it at WornFree.com

Spotted at VIBE.com

But if your in the market for a Autographed Robe signed by the Greatest Himself shop at: www.substancecollectables.com

Muhammad Ali Autograph Robe at www.substancecollectables.com

Muhammad Ali Autograph Robe at http://www.substancecollectables.com

06
Nov
09

The Rumble in the Jungle! October 30th! 35th Anniversary.

October 30, 1974
 
Thirty-five years ago today, Muhammad Ali laced his gloves and went toe to toe with George Foreman in the jungle heat of Zaire, Africa.
 
Ali was a heavy underdog to Foreman who was younger, a feared knockout artist, and reigning world champ.
 
That night – through his tremendous heart, rope-a-dope strategy, and uncanny skills –Ali cemented his place as the Greatest of All Time.
 
 
 
Rumblevision
 
To commemorate the epic battle, Muhammad Ali Enterprises and No Mas present 3 short films, created especially for the fight. View them now!
 
“Zaire” by David Rathman translates fight highlights into a watercolor time capsule.
 
“Round Zero” by Jerome Lagarrigue uses Ali’s poetry to explore Ali’s spiritual journey in the moments before the bout began.
 
“The Greatest of All Time vs. The Godfather of Soul” by James Bladgen is a humorous piece, imagining Ali vs. James Brown, who played  a concert just prior to the bout.
(James Brown’s featured song can be purchased on iTunes, click here to find out more.)
If you are one of the many Muhammad Ali fight fans and would love to own one of his signed autographed boxing collectibles such as a pair of Everlast Boxing gloves autographed by the champ, or a great set of boxing Trunks signed by the greatest of all times, or just a photo signed by Muhammad Ali, look no further, we have a great selection of 100% all Authentic Muhammad Ali boxing Memorabilia just come and visit us at www.substancecollectables.com and take a look for yourself! Makes a great Holiday gift idea for your loved one.
Authentic signed Muhammad Ali Boxing Gloves

Authentic signed Muhammad Ali Boxing Gloves

31
Oct
09

Muhammad Ali Signed Boxing Collectible Memorabilia for the Holidays makes a great gift!

Muhammad Ali Signed Painted Boxing Glove

Muhammad Ali Signed Painted Boxing Glove

Here we have a beautiful Online Authentic Muhammad Ali signed and painted Everlast Boxing Glove with a Super X-Large Autograph which is selling on ebay at this moment for a great low price!

If you are interested in Muhammad Ali and are interested in the purchase in this glove or a glove similar like this one you may contact me at www.substancecollectables.com.

Trunks, Robes or beautiful photos signed by the Greatest Muhammad Ali are for sale on www.substancecollectables.com.  

Here are some examples of great Ali items that we recommend that are currently selling on Ebay which are 100% Authentic and are from a reputable seller which a great reputation in this industry!

Very Rare piece of signed artwork by Muhammad Ali

Very Rare piece of signed artwork by Muhammad Ali

Signed Online Authentics Muhammad Ali Boxing Glove

Signed Online Authentics Muhammad Ali Boxing Glove

Interested in any of these pieces they are currently selling on Ebay right now or contact me at www.substancecollectables.com

18
Oct
09

Muhammad Ali Boxing autographs

Are you still hoping to get the one special autograph from your favorite boxer? Well right now www.substancecollectables.com has thousands of boxing autographs and boxing collectables. Here are some 100% Authentic memorabilia items for sale going on right now.

 

Muhammad Ali Signed Boxing Trunks

Muhammad Ali Signed Boxing Trunks

 

 

Muhammad Ali Boxing Memorabilia at www.substancecollectables.com

Muhammad Ali Boxing Memorabilia at http://www.substancecollectables.com

 

Erik Morales, Manny Pacquiao, Miguel Cotto, Anthonio Margarito, Muhammad Ali, James Corebett, Henry Armstrong, Rocky Marciano, Primo Carnera, Benny Leonard, Jack Dempsey, Tommy Burns, Maxie Rosenbloom, Lou Ambers, Archie Moore, Gene Tunney, Mike Tyson, Floyd Patterson, Joe Jacobs, Max Schmeling, Don King, Rubin Carter, Evander Holyfield, Floyd Patterson, Hector Camacho, Roberto Duran, Joe Frazier, Larry Holmes, Ray Leonard, Leon Spinks, Ray Robinson, George Foreman and many more!
 
Whether looking for gift for a boxing fan, birthday or luxury gifts, nothing makes a more perfect and unique gift than an autographed item for someone special! Imagine the thrill of receiving an autographed item from one’s hero or signed on the anniversary of one’s birthday.
 
 
18
Oct
09

Muhammad Ali vs Derek Jeter!

Photos by Kathy Willens Photos by Kathy Willens 

Muhammad Ali adjusts a New York Yankees cap given to him by Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter before the Red Sox faced the Yankees in a baseball game at Yankee Stadium in New York, Thursday, Aug. 6, 2009.

Red Sox Yankees Baseball

Muhammad Ali inspects an award presented to the Yankees from the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences before the Yankees’ baseball game against the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium in New York, Thursday, Aug. 6, 2009.

Red Sox Yankees Baseball

If you like this article and would like to read more about Muhammad Ali news please follow my Muhammad Ali News Blog. And for any authentic signed boxing memorabilia please visit my website at www.substancecollectables.com for your home for signed Muhammad Ali boxing items: Trunks, Gloves, Photos.

Everlast Signed Muhammad Ali boxing Gloves at www.substancecollectables.com

Everlast Signed Muhammad Ali boxing Gloves at http://www.substancecollectables.com




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