Muhammad Ali

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  • Topic: Muhammad Ali, Boxing, Joe Frazier
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Muhammad Ali (born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. on January 17, 1942) is a retired American boxer and former three-time World Heavyweight Champion. To date, he remains the only man to have won the linear heavyweight championship three times (the linear title is recognized by tracing an - almost - unbroken lineage of titleholders going back over 100 years, with nearly every champion defeating the previous titleholder in the ring). Ali was also the winner of an Olympic Light-heavyweight gold medal. In 1999, Ali was crowned "Sportsman of the Century" by Sports Illustrated and the BBC.

Ali was born in Louisville, Kentucky. He was named after his father, Cassius Marcellus Clay Sr., who was named for the 19th century abolitionist and politician Cassius Clay. Ali changed his name after joining the Nation of Islam in 1964, subsequently converted to Sunni Islam in 1975 and then Sufism.[1] Contents

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Biography

Fighting style

Ali was best known for his fighting style which he described as "Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee". Throughout his career Ali made a name for himself with great handspeed, as well as swift feet and taunting tactics. While Ali was renowned for his fast, sharp out-fighting style, he also had a great chin, and displayed great courage and an ability to take a punch through out his illustrious career. Ali also exclusively attacked the head of an opponent, usually ignoring a body attack.[citation needed]

Early life

Muhammad Ali was born on January 17, 1942. His father, Clay Sr., painted billboards and signs, and his mother, Odessa Grady Clay, was a household domestic. Although Clay Sr. was a Methodist, he allowed Odessa to bring up both Clay boys as Baptists.[2]

Amateur career; Olympic gold

Ali was first directed toward boxing by Louisville police officer, Joe E. Martin, who encountered the then twelve-year-old Cassius Clay fuming over the fact that his bicycle had been stolen.[3] However, without Martin knowing, he also began training with Fred Stoner at another gym.[who?] In this way, he could continue making $4 a week on Tomorrow's Champions, a TV show that Martin hosted, while benefiting from the coaching of the more-experienced Stoner, who continued working with Ali throughout his amateur career.[who?]

Ali's last amateur loss was to Kent Green of Chicago, who could say he was the last person to defeat the champion until Ali lost to Joe Frazier in 1971 as a pro. Under Stoner's guidance, Muhammad Ali went on to win six Kentucky Golden Gloves titles, two national Golden Gloves titles, an Amateur Athletic Union National Title, and the Light Heavyweight gold medal in the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome.[4] Ali's record was 100 wins, with five losses, when he ended his amateur career.

Ali states (in his 1975 autobiography) that he threw his Olympic gold medal into the Ohio River after being refused service at a 'whites-only' restaurant, and fighting with a white gang. Whether this is true is still debated, although he was given a replacement medal during the opening ceremony of the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, where he lit the torch to start the games.

Early professional career

After his Olympic triumph, Ali returned to Louisville to begin his professional career. There, on October 29, 1960, he won his first professional fight, a six-round decision over Tunney Hunsaker, who was the police chief of Fayetteville, West Virginia.

Standing tall, at 6-ft, 3-in (1.91 m), Ali had a highly unorthodox style for a heavyweight boxer. Rather than the normal style of carrying the hands high to defend the face, he instead relied on foot speed and quickness to avoid punches and carried his hands low.

From 1960 to 1963, the young fighter amassed a record of 19-0, with 15 knockouts. He defeated boxers such as Tony Esperti, Jim Robinson, Donnie Fleeman, Alonzo Johnson, George Logan, Willi Besmanoff, Lamar Clark (who had won his previous 40 bouts by knockout), Doug Jones and Henry Cooper....
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