Muhammed Ali

Muhammed Ali

In some people?s eyes Muhammed Ali is the greatest boxer ever. He has always been classified as great! He was even classified as the greatest athlete in the 20th century by Sports Illustrated. He was the first to win the heavyweight title three times! He was a worldwide entertainer, and millions of people enjoyed watching his style. He was also very controversial because of his religious beliefs, his name change from Cassius Clay to Muhammed Ali and his refusal to fight in the Vietnam War.

Muhammed Ali grew up in Louisville, Kentucky but he was known as Cassius Clay. He lived a normal life until the age of twelve when his bicycle was stolen during a local convention of the Louisville Service Club. Clay wanted to report the crime and went to find a police officer. He found Joe Martin, an officer and a boxing coach at the Columbia Gym . Clay told Martin "I?m going to whip the person who stole my bike." Martin then proceeded to tell Clay that if he wanted to do that he should come to the gym and learn how to fight properly. Clay was a small man when he started boxing as an amateur; he weighed only eighty-nine pounds. Clay would soon become the man to see at the Columbia Gym. Joe Martin?s wife said that Clay was an overall nice guy. He was polite and always did what he was asked to do. He carried his Bible with him all the time, read when he could, and loved it. Throughout his amateur career and high school, Clay worked at the Nazareth College Library. Clay also was viewed as a kid obsessed with boxing. Clay got bigger and stronger as his talents grew. Sometimes, to keep in shape, Clay would race the city buses to school. Bettie Johnson, a school counselor said "Clay wasn?t a good student, and if he had not been a boxer, he would not have stood out in any way but he went to school like he was supposed to." Clay never had any problems with his attitude in school, but as a senior he wrote a paper about Black Muslims. Clay?s paper was controversial because his teacher was a conforming Christian and his ideas about separatism and blacks being super-assertive scared her. The teacher wasn?t going to pass Clay, but the principal said "the boy will not fail, because he?s going to be an outstanding boxer." Clay was becoming a boxing phenomenon; the first newspaper article about him was published on October 27, 1957. By then Clay had been boxing for 3 years and was clearly the number one contender for the light-heavyweight championship in the Golden Gloves amateur ranks. He was arguably ready for the challenge after he knocked out Donnie Hall in the fourth round. Cassius Clay was a small opponent for Hall, and even outweighed Clay by eleven and a half pounds. Clay would continue to practice at the Columbia Gym until late at night. He could never stop moving his arms. He was always anxious and ready to fight. Clay became the Golden Gloves light-heavyweight champion and moved on to the heavyweight division. Clay had fought and won thirty-six consecutive fights by May 1, 1959 and said "I?m a baaaaad man!" But his winning steak was broken when Amos Johnson beat him at the Pan-American Games trials. After that loss Clay never lost an amateur fight again! Clay proceeded to the Rome Olympics and won the light-heavyweight gold medal. Immediately after winning the gold medal, Clay was subjected to horrible comments about his race and his religion, which forced him to throw his gold medal away because he felt that people did not accept him.

Cassius Clay was a great amateur boxer, and won 100 out of 108 fights. He won consecutive titles in the AAU and the Golden Gloves amateur divisions. Clay started his professional career at age eighteen, and was paid $10,000 up front and then signed a two year contract for $4,000 a year. He went through nineteen opponents, the likes of Archie Moore, Billy Daniels, Doug Jones, Henry Cooper, Dennis Fleeman, and Jim Robinson. He then went on to challenge Sonny Liston for the heavyweight title. Clay was considered the underdog and shocked the world by forcing Liston to stop the fight after the sixth round. After the fight Clay