Photograph from Independent.Co
Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.
Muhammad Ali (Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr) was born January 17, 1942 in Louisville, Kentucky. Muhammad was American professional boxer and activist. Ali was the first fighter to win the world heavyweight championship on three separate occasions.
According to Encyclopedia Britannica when Ali was 12 years old, he took up boxing under the instruction of Louisville policeman Joe Martin. After hard work and dedication he ended up advancing through the amateur ranks, he won a gold medal in the 175-pound division at the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome and began a professional career.
Earlier on in Clays career, he was more known to be charming rather then his skills in the ring. He did things like reading childlike poetry and and coming up with phases like “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee,” to raise more attention to his fights.
People were sceptical about Muhammad’s boxing career. He held his hands atypically low, backed away from punches rather than bobbing and weaving out of danger, and appeared to lack true knockout power as a boxer.
Muhammad Ali had gotten his name by his spiritual mentor, Elijah Muhammad when he had accepted the teachings of the Nation of Islam. For a good period in Ali’s boxing career he was considered an underdog until February 25, 1964, where he challenged Sonny Liston for the heavyweight championship of the world. Sonny was known as the most powerful boxer of his time so for Muhammad to challenge him it became as a shock to everyone. After six rounds of the fight, Liston retired to his corner resulting in Clay becoming the new champion.
For the next few years his boxing career began to take off and people stopped seeing Ali as a joke. Ali dominated boxing as efficient and magnificently as any fighter ever had.
Muhammad began to fight people in the big leagues as Floyd Patterson, George Chuvalo, Henry Cooper, Brian London, Karl Mildenberger, and in a rematch against Sonny he won with a knockout in the first round, and more followed.
Ali was stripped of his championship and precluded from fighting by every state athletic commission in the United States for three and a half years due to being convicted of refusing induction into the U.S. armed forces and sentenced to five years in prison.
Ali’s impact upon American society was growing, and he became a lightning rod for dissent as the 1960’ became more enthusiastic and eager. He had a huge impact on the civil right movement on his message of black pride and black resistance to white domination.
When Muhammad had returned to fighting his skills were not like they used to. He became slower, and his reflexes were not the same. After he prevailed in a few fights he then challenged Joe Frazier, who had become heavyweight champion during Ali’s absence from the ring. People named it “Fight of the Century.” After his loss to Frazier, Ali won 10 fights in a row, 8 of them against world-class opponents.
Ali’s place in boxing history as one of the greatest fighters ever is secure. His final record of 56 wins and 5 losses with 37 knockouts has been matched by others, but the quality of his opponents and the manner in which he dominated during his prime placed him on a plateau with boxing’s legends.
Ali had been publicly battling Parkinson’s disease for more than three decades, so it came as a surprise to many that his official cause of death on June 3, 2016, according to family spokesman Bob Gunnell, was “septic shock due to unspecified natural causes.” He will forever be remembered in American history.