On January 17th the greatest boxer of all time celebrated His 65th birthday. Muhammad Ali transcended the world of boxing to become a worldwide hero. In his prime I don’t think any of today’s boxers could touch him. I just want to say happy birthday Muhammad Ali.
Muhammad Ali was born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. on January 17, 1942 in Louisville, Kentucky. Cassius Clay won his first professional fight In Louisville, October 29, 1960. Clay’s first title fight took place February 25, 1964 against Sonny Liston in Miami, Florida. It was during the weigh-in, a day before the fight that Clay coined he’s now famous saying when he said he would “float like a butterfly and sting like a bee”, the rest of that saying being, “Your hands can’t hit what your eyes can’t see”. Although being blinded by some foreign substance, Clay went on to win the fight and the Heavy Weight title. March of that same year, Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. became Muhammad Ali. Also that year Muhammad Ali failed the Armed Forces qualifying test because of his sub par writing and spelling skills. However, in 1966, the tests were revised and Ali was reclassified 1A. Because of his religious beliefs, Ali refused to serve when he was drafted. Ali was banned from fighting in the United States forcing him to fight abroad for most of 1966.
November 1966, Ali returned to the United States to fight Cleveland “Big Cat” Williams at the Houston Astrodome. Williams had been shot in the stomach and went into the fight missing a kidney, 10 feet of his small intestine, and with a shriveled left leg from nerve damage. Ali won the fight in three rounds. Ali returned to Houston February 6, 1967 to fight Ernie Terrell. It became one of the ugliest fights in boxing history. Terrell kept calling Ali, Cassius Clay, angering him. Ali brutally punished Terrell for fifteen rounds. During the fight, Ali kept shouting, “What’s my name, Uncle Tom … What’s my name.” Analysts speculated that Ali could have ended the fight sooner but chose to keep the punishment going.
Near the end of 1967, Ali was stripped of his title and was not allowed to fight professionally for more than three years. He was also convicted for refusing induction into the army and sentenced to five years in prison. Ali did stay in the public spotlight and supported himself by giving speeches. In 1970, Ali was allowed to fight again, he returned to stop Jerry Quarry after three rounds. That same year the New York Supreme Court ruled that Ali had been unjustly denied a boxing license. In December 1970 Ali fought Oscar Bonavena. Ali stopped Bonavena in the 15th round, which paved the way for a title fight against Joe Frazier. March 8,1971, at Madison Square Garden, the fight called “The Fight of the Century” was held. Ali verses Frazier was one of the most eagerly awaited bouts of all time. Frazier won the fight giving Ali his first professional loss. Late in1971 the Supreme Court reversed Ali’s earlier conviction for refusing induction. In 1974, after a string of victories and one loss to Ken Norton, whom Ali later came back to beat, Ali beat Frazier in a rematch. Frazier, however no longer held the championship title due to a loss to George Forman. Ali regain the championship after beating Forman in a bout nicknamed, “The Rumble In The Jungle”, where he employed his famous “Rope a Dope”. In 1975, Ali and Frazier met again for the fight nicknamed “The Thrilla in Manila”. Ali won the fight due Frazier’s eyes being closed and the fight was stopped. In 1976, Ali won a controversial decision over Jimmy Young. Many say Young out pointed Ali in the fight.
Ali’s ring doctor, Fredie Pacheco, left Ali’s corner in1977, stating that Ali was hurting himself by continuing to fight. Ali, however retained the title until February 1978 when he loss to Leon Spinks. Ali regained his title from Spinks in September of that same year. June 27, 1979, Ali announced he would retire and vacated the title only to come back October 2,1980 to fight Larry Holmes for the WBC Heavyweight title. Ali lost by technical knockout in round eleven, when Dundee would not let him go out for the round. Although it was thought that Ali would never fight again after that loss, he did fight one more time. December 11,1981 Ali fought future world champion Trevor Berbick. The fight was called “The Drama in the Bahamas”. Ali lost a 10-round unanimous decision to Berbick. He retired permanently with a career record of 56 wins (37 by knockout) and 5 losses. He was also a three-time World Heavyweight Boxing Champion.
Ali was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in the early 80s, which has worsened through the years. Yet, despite his disability, he has remained an active public figure. Ali has been and always will be an inspiration, a source of pride and a hero to people all over the world and to Muhammad Ali I say Happy Birthday and many more.