14
Jun
09

Muhammad Ali’s early years.

Cassius Clay won gold at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome.

Cassius Clay won gold at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome.

With Dundee in his corner, from his Miami base, Cassius blazed a trail through the heavyweight division with his unorthodox style that defied boxing logic. He was a “headhunter.” He never threw body shots (he adopted this style in his youth because he had reach and because he didn’t want to get close enough to get hit). And he “danced.” Because of Clay’s powerful legs-maybe the strongest in the history of boxing-he literally floated in the ring. He invented the “Ali Shuffle;” a foot maneuver where he would elevate himself, shuffle his feet in a dazzling blur, and sometimes deliver a blow while dancing.

The third element that Clay brought to boxing was his mouth. He never shut up. He became known as, “The Louisville Lip.” It was more than banter; it was a constant harangue. In a time when boxers never talked to the media-their managers always spoke for them-Clay did all his own talking. He even went so far as to predict the round. “To prove I’m great he will fall in eight!”

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