10 Amazing facts about the World’s Greatest Boxing Legend, Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali was a legend. The heavyweight boxing superstar, who inspired the song which immortalized his famous lines “float like a butterfly and sting like a bee” dominated boxing as one of the greatest fighters the sport has ever seen. Reaching stardom as the World Heavyweight Champion at the age of 22, Ali dealt a crushing defeat to reigning champion Sonny Liston on that fateful day of 25th February 1964. Sadly Ali is no more, succumbing to respiratory infection on 3rd June, 2016. It is in his memory that we share these ten amazing facts about Muhammad Ali.

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1 Ali Was Named After an Abolitionist

Born Cassius Marcellus Clay on January 7th 1942, Ali was named after a stalwart anti-slavery abolitionist, who served as a minister in the cabinet of Abraham Lincoln.

Muhammad Ali Was Named After an Abolitionist

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2 His first coach was a police Officer

When he was 12 years old, the young Cassius Clay had his bike stolen in Louisville, Kentucky. The police man to whom he filed a report was Joe Martin, a boxer himself. When he heard Clay remark that he would thrash the thief, he suggested that Clay should learn boxing first and began teaching the youngster. Within a month and a half, Clay won his first match. He went on to win 6 local golden gloves and two national Golden Gloves, several local titles and a gold at the 1960 Olympics in Rome.

Muhammad Ali's first coach was a police Officer

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3 The Youngest World Heavyweight Champion

At 22, Cassius Clay became the youngest ever boxer to win a title from a reigning champion, a record he would hold for many years till Mike Tyson broke it at the age of 20. The fight with heavyweight world champion Sonny Liston was eventful as journalists termed it one of the most controversial but greatest fights in boxing history. Sports Illustrated termed it the 4th greatest fight of the 20th century. Clay, the underdog wasn’t even expected to win against the indomitable Liston who instilled fear in every boxer matched up against him.

In a rematch, Ali defeated Liston in two minutes, twelve seconds. In what became the most iconic moment in boxing history , Ali towered over a fallen Liston shouting “Get Up And Fight You Sucker’!!

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Youngest World Heavyweight Champion

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4 He changed his named to Cassius X

Previous to the fight with Sonny Liston, Cassius Clay kept his Islamic connections a secret changing his name to Cassius X. When the facts of his joining the radical group the “nation of Islam” was leaked to the press by his father, his main promoter Bill Macdonald pulled out of the sponsorship and lost $300,000 on the fight. After the fight, Ali publicly announced his conversion to Islam after which his mentor Elijah Muhammad made it known he would henceforth be called Muhammad Ali. Ali was also influenced by controversial figure Malcolm X at the time.

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Muhammad ali changed his name to Cassius

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5 Before the Liston Fight, Ali Was Described As Scared and Ready To Quit

Among the most amazing facts of Muhammad Ali, none can be so descriptive of his unpredictable nature. Just before the fight with Liston, Boxing commission doctors, who checked Ali felt he was mentally unstable and scared out of his wits and would presumably lose his nerve before commencement of the fight. Ali proved them wrong, dominating the fight playing a psychological battle with Liston that would ultimately end in his favor in the seventh round.

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Liston Fight

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6 Ali’s Gloves from the Liston Fight Fetched Him More Than the Fight Money Itself

The pair of gloves that Ali wore to defeat Sonny Liston was purchased by an undisclosed buyer for $ 836,000, more than the $630,000 he was paid for the fight.

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Ali’s Gloves from the Liston Fight

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7 Ali Recorded an Album of Spoken Verse Set to Music

Ali regarded himself as a pretty man and a poet. He regularly composed verses to taunt his opponents, engaging them in a psychological verbal duel that might have been his own strategy to psyche himself. Columbia Records released an album of spoken verse in 1963 titled “I am the greatest’ which features Ali’s rendition of his own poetry, set to music.

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Muhammad ali a poet

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8 He Was Stripped Of His Title for Refusing To Join the Army

During the Vietnam War, Ali received his draft, which he refused citing his religious principles and that he had no quarrel with the Vietnamese. He was subsequently stripped of his title and sentenced to a jail term of five years. He was also fined $10,000 for his actions. However, during the period of his conviction and appeal, he was allowed to roam free. Ali was reinstated in 1970 after he won his case in the Supreme Court where his conviction was overturned.

Muhammad Ali refused to join the army

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9 His Defining Moment Came At 4 Am in Zaire

Ali’s most famous bout and defining moment, establishing him as the world’s greatest boxer came at 4 am in Zaire, Africa in 1974. Both Ali and George Foreman, the reigning heavyweight champion were paid $5 million each, by the dictator of Zaire, President Mobutu, so that they would fight in the capital Kinshasa. Ali regained his title defeating Foreman in the 8th round after 7 years.

Ali and George

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10 Just Five Men Have Knocked Down Muhammad Ali in the Prime of His Carrier

The only men to knock down Muhammad Ali were five distinguished boxers. Two of them were Sonny Banks and Henry Cooper, who fought Ali prior to his Liston fight. After being reinstated, Ali lost to Joe Frazier in what became to be known as his first professional defeat. He was also floored by Ken Norton, who broke Ali’s jaw in 1973. However, Ali defeated Norton in a rematch in 1974. In 1978, Ali lost his title to Leon Spinks, but regained it later in a unanimous decision after an unofficial rematch that lasted 15 rounds.

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Five Men Have Knocked Down Muhammad Ali

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11 The End of a Legend

Muhammad Ali officially retired after he lost to Larry Homes in 1984. From then owwards, his health deteriorated after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 1984. Ali took bad on June 2nd, 2016 after which he was admitted to Scottsdale Hospital, Arizona. He did not respond to life support and breathed his last the next day, June 3rd 2016. He was 74. The amazing fact about Muhammad Ali will remain the fact that he was his greatest motivator. Stating his own Philosophy he said,

R.I.P Muhammad Ali

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“I never thought of the possibility of failing, only of the fame and glory I was going to get when I won,” “I could see it. I could almost feel it. When I proclaimed that I was the greatest of all time, I believed in myself, and I still do

R.I.P Muhammad Ali

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