By Moses Kamuiru
An Outspoken Sportsman
An African American Heavyweight boxing champion, Muhammad Ali was one of the greatest sporting figures in the 20th Century. Ali was the first boxer to be a record three-time world heavyweight champion in boxing. He had 21 victories in his two decades professional career. Ali was also a controversial figure during his career due to his outspokenness on issues of politics, religion, and race and the heavyweight taunts and quips were as fast as his blows. Born Cassius Clay Jr., Muhammad Ali changed his name after converting to Islam in 1964. Ali was stripped of his heavyweight boxing title and banned from boxing for three years at the peak of his career by refusing military induction citing his religious beliefs.
Achievement before Pro-boxing
Ali’s speech and motor skills were impaired by his Parkinson’s disease condition but remained active as a goodwill ambassador and a humanitarian. Second, only to the NBA legend Michael Jordan, Ali appeared on the cover Sports Illustrated 38 times. Ali had won two national Golden Gloves titles, 100 victories against eight losses and two Amateur Athletic Union national titles by the time he was age 18. He traveled to Rome after graduating from high school and won the light heavyweight gold medal at the 1960 Summer Olympics. Muhammad Ali won his professional boxing debut on the 29th of October, 1960 after a six round decision. His self-promotion and constant braggadocio earned him the nickname “Louisville Lip.”
First Title Shot
Ali received his first title shot on the 25th of February 1964 after winning his first 19 fights, including 15 knockouts. He was contending the title against reigning heavyweight champion Sonny Liston (1932-1970. Muhammad Ali relentlessly taunted the world champion before the fight promising to float like a butterfly and sting like a bee and predicting a knockout. Ali was indeed crowned Heavyweight champion in boxing after Liston failed to answer the bell at the start of the seventh round. He roared “I am the greatest” in the ring after the match.
Rumble in the Jungle
Ali cemented his hold on the championship on the 25th of May 1965 after knocking out Liston in the first round of their rematch. He went ahead to defend his title eight more times. After almost two years in exile after he refused induction into the military during the Vietnam War, Ali returned to the ring in October 1970 and knocked out Jerry Quarry in the third round. He got the chance to regain his. Heavyweight championship in what was billed as the fight of the century against the then champion Joe Frazier. Ali experienced his first loss as a pro after Frazier floored him with a hard left hook in the final round, Ali got up, but a unanimous decision declared victory to the defending champion. The fight with the 25-year-old champion George Foreman famously known as the Rumble in the Jungle, Ali, the decided underdog, employed his “rope-a-dope” strategy, leaning on the ring ropes and absorbing a barrage of blows from Foreman while waiting for his opponent to tire. The strategy worked, and Ali won in an eighth-round knockout to regain the title stripped from him seven years prior.
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