Muhammad Ali, whom after a long battle with Parkinson’s, was lost at the age of 74.. But nothing about Muhammad Ali’s legacy or impact will ever be knocked out…Possibly the most recognizable athlete around the world finally couldn’t give anymore bee stings or fly like any butterflies..His life will undoubtedly ever be forgotten..After winning the Gold medal in the 1960 Olympics Cassius Clay turned professional…At age 22, Cassius Clay then stepped into the ring to fight the current champ, Sonny Liston, to become the heavyweight champion of the world….What ensued was a brash introduction in a post fight interview from the man himself as to who Clay truly was..As he said of himself, “I’m champion of the world, I’m champion of the world. I’m pretty, I am a bad man..I AM THE GREATEST.”…. As arrogant as some thought he was, he gave us an introduction into something he will forever get credit for starting—–trash talk… But what Clay did in weeks following that post fight rant is something that revealed his persona and identity..Cassius Clay aborted his Christian faith and converted to Muslim..In a bold move, the boxer formerly known as Cassius Clay changed his name to Muhammed Ali.. He then refused to serve in the Army and be drafted into a controversial Vietnam war….The legend of Muhammad Ali was now formulated…..Ali now had a strong conviction in his required beliefs and held on to his robust morals..Ali who was previously cheered every where he went, was now booed and perceived by some as a draft dodger…..But Ali never conformed to what others thought he should or shouldn’t do…..At a time of intense civil unrest, political/racial tension, and oppression, Ali always stayed true to who he was and what he believed…Ali was once quoted as saying, “I don’t have to be what you want me to be.” .I respect that..Ali was stripped of his heavyweight titles for not going in the draft and was now barred from boxing for three years….three years that were right in the peak of his prime..
Ali served his suspension and eventually did return to boxing..He went onto fight in some of the most legendary fights of all time and eventually did regain his heavyweight title multiple times…..The thrilla in manila against his archrival, Joe Frazier, in which Ali later claimed after winning a 15 round decision, “its the closet I have felt to dying.”..The rumble in the jungle against George Foreman where Ali did his famous rope-a-dope…. A lot of people thought Ali should of never taken that fight since Ali was getting older and Foreman was such a behemoth..Ali came up with his own strategy that was against the wishes of his managers and leaned on the ropes in hopes of Foreman “punching himself out”…..Foreman subsequently did get tired and Ali caught him with a right hand in the 8th round, knocking the current champ out….
Ali went on to fight several more times and probably fought a couple of them he shouldn’t of..But, The fact Ali was 56-5 in his career was only a fraction of what a revolutionary he really was.. Ali would travel all over the world while adapting different civilizations and embracing under privileged customs…He would visit hospitals of sick children and gave them belief to never stop fighting….He gave hope to those who were suffering with fatal diseases…. As Ali stated, “Boxing was nothing….It wasn’t important to me at all….Boxing was meant as a way to introduce me to the world.”…Ali become an humatarian and the visions of him being a traitor dissolved, as a lot of Americans agreed that going to the Vietnam war was unjustified….Ali became an American hero… He donated millions to the research of Parkinson’s and made numerous contributions to charities to cement his philanthropic legend……Boxing put Ali on the map but that was just a bulding block as to who Ali truly was…. He simply was the greatest…
Also published on Medium.