Muhammad Ali’s Contribution to Boxing and Socially

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“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” Hearing this quote, the first name that most likely came to mind is Muhammad Ali. While he is known for being one of the greatest boxers of all time, he also made many contributions socially by standing up for what he believed in no matter what. Muhammad Ali is not only known as one of America’s heroes for his actions inside of the ring, but also for his courageous actions outside of the ring.

In heavily segregated Louisville, Kentucky, Muhammad Ali, then known as Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr., was born on January 17, 1942. He was the oldest son of Cassius Marcellus Clay Sr., and his mother, Odessa Grady Clay. He learned the meaning of hard work by watching his father who supported his family by painting billboards and his mother who worked cleaning houses. When he was twelve years old, he reported his stolen bicycle to a policeman and “vowed to pummel the culprit” (“Muhammad Ali”). To his luck, the policeman, Joe Martin, was a boxing trainer, and took Cassius under his wing. This was only the beginning of a long, successful boxing career.

Clay dominated the boxing ring. By the time he had turned eighteen, he had already won two national Golden Gloves titles, two Amateur Athletic Union national titles, and lost only eight out of one hundred and eight fights. (“Muhammad Ali”). His shinning record landed him a spot on the American Olympics team in 1960 where he won the light heavyweight gold medal and went professional not long after. Four years later, he won his first heavyweight title. He was boastful, referring to himself as “The Greatest”, and showed that he had the skill to back him up. These outstanding achievements made him a star and a hero in America’s eyes.

Though he was loved by many, it was what followed his win that started to change his image in the eyes of the American public. Clay had begun associating with Malcom X, a Muslim minister and civil rights activist. Following his win, Cassius Clay announced that he was converting to the Nation of Islam. On March 6, 1964, his spiritual leader Elijah Muhammad, gave him the name we all know him by—Muhammad Ali (Hauser). Ali refused induction into the Vietnam war on the grounds that fighting in this war was against his religious beliefs. He was found guilty for draft evasion, and while he was free during the time before his conviction, he wasn’t truly free. He was stripped of his championship title and suspended from boxing. Though his popularity also took a hard hit, he continuously spoke out for what he believed in and sent a message of black pride.

Muhammad Ali was allowed to return to the ring in 1970. He successfully won back his tittle as heavyweight champion and held it until 1978, when he was defeated by Leon Spinks (“Muhammad Ali”). Then, seven months later, he won his title back, becoming the first person to win the heavyweight title three times. He finally retired in 1981 with a record of “fifty-six wins, five losses, and thirty-seven knockouts” (“Muhammad Ali”). Though his career was over, he did not stray from the spotlight, making many public appearances, and continued to fight for what he believed was right even after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s syndrome. He had nine children, and in 1986, he married his fourth wife, Yolanda. Treated as the hero that he was, he was made a member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990 and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005 (Hauser). He passed away on June 3, 2016.

Muhammad Ali lived up to his nickname as the greatest boxer of all time. Even though he was knocked down by adversity, he would get back up stronger than before. He was an example of a true American hero—a fighter who stands up for what they believe in. In the words of the greatest, “Live everyday like it’s your last, because someday you’re going to be right.”

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Muhammad Ali’s Contribution to Boxing and Socially. (2021, Oct 28). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/muhammad-alis-contribution-to-boxing-and-socially/

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