The world has been an incredible producer of some sensational sports-persons; some who have created and re-created history, others who have made a wealth of fortune, of both records and a whole lot of money. Then there have been those who have been branded as the most bankable names in the entire globe, steadying brands and international reputations of many a conglomerate.
But there have only been a few who have made hearts swell with pride and have reminded time and again just what it means to be a ‘timeless legend’.
Mohammad Ali, unarguably the greatest fighter that there has ever been and an undisputed king of boxing was one such ‘heavyweight name’.
Supremely fit, agile, emotionally strong and a tactical master of his craft, the name Ali rhymed with victory and in Mohammad Ali lay perhaps the world’s greatest search for legend who knew how to unite a world colored by racial differences, escalating political tensions and rising violence. You could be anyone; a citizen from the developed West or one languishing in the morose of a developing third world country, but Mohammad Ali was a common thread of hero worship that brought people along regardless of differences of beliefs and in ethnicity’.
In the glittering cosmos of international competitive boxing where seasoned champs of the class and caliber of George Foreman, Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather have collected millions of fans, Mohammad Ali was the first international icon and perhaps the sport’s first authentic superstar. There haven’t been many boxing icons whose influence was felt loud and clear around the world and Ali’s name echoed a voice of promise, a clarity in purpose and soared with applause far beyond the ring.
What’s Up Life takes a privilege in paying an earnest tribute to an iconic fighter of his day who at 74, breathed his last and went down, but not before a ‘fight’ with Parkinson’s disease on 4th of June.
We bring you some Mohammad Ali facts that you may not know:
Glory at age 22
Mohammad Ali, widely regarded the greatest boxer of all time won the heavyweight title as a 22 year old. At the ripe young age, where many of his contemporaries may just have been wondering just what it meant to succeed at boxing, Ali conquered the great Sonny Liston, who was thought to be the most intimating, powerful fighter of his time.
In a glorious battle that ensued at Miami Beach, Florida (circa 1965) Ali overcame a mountain of doubt and reigned supreme using electrifying speed and quickness to pick apart the champ, forcing Liston to throw the towel in the seventh round. The fight which went down as one of the most epic boxing battled ever was celebrated by “Sports Illustrated” as the no.4 top sports moment in the 20th century.
Banned from Boxing
Yeah you read that right. Not for one or two, but for full three years, Ali was debarred from participating in competitive boxing in perhaps the only low time in his otherwise checkered boxing career.
The year was 1967 and the war in Vietnam had raged supreme. Ali had been drafted into the United States Army however, he cited religious reasons and refused to join in what he perhaps felt was a round of useless violence.
Back then everyone knew Mohammad Ali and on April 28 he was arrested on charges of draft evasion, sentenced to 5 years in prison and thumped with a USD 10,000 dollar fine.
Further controversy erupted when Ali was stripped of his titles and had his boxing license suspended. Between the age of 25-28, Ali was sadly out of action.
Born Cassius Clay
The name Ali seems a simple, uncomplicated path to utmost perfection. But this wasn’t the name the legend was born with.
Mohammad Ali was born Cassius Clay, named after a 19th century politician and abolitionist.
The original Clay was also an iconic figure and was a popular civil hero after having emancipated 40 slaves he inherited from his father who had worked as Minister to Russia under Abe Lincoln’s reign.
It was on March 6, 1964 that Clay converted to Islam following his popular victory over Liston.
Marriage- a familiar turf for the iconic champion
Mohammad Ali who’s left a sterling legacy in boxing has left behind 3 ex-wives, 7 daughters and 2 sons.
But the most famous member of the Ali family is daughter Laila Ali, who was once a popular boxer too following in her father’s footsteps. She went 24-0 as a boxer, coached by her late dad between 1999 to 2007, winning an array of world titles.
Laila also attained worldwide fame making impressive appearances on a string of shows such as “American Gladiators”, “All in with Laila Ali”.
Among Ali’s other children, Maryum , also known as May May released a successful rap album and has written a children’s book. She’s also appeared on several tv shows, most popularly, “60 Days in”.
Battle with Parkinson’s
It is quite an irony that the man who made several heavyweight fighters gasp for breath inside the ring was troubled torridly by many respiratory issues following his run in with the Parkinson’s disease. Ali was diagnosed with the deadly disease when he was 42 years old and had begun showing symptoms when he retired in 1981.
But doctors later revealed that Ali’s situation deteriorated further as a result of injuries he had sustained in the brain resulting out of his boxing career.