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Muhammad Ali---originally named Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr.---entered this world on January 17, 1942. His loud cry as a newborn was one of a fighter---a champion. Ali was a voice---a boastful voice mind you---that cried out for justice, respect, and equal treatment. He was a loud and memorable voice---one that the world will not soon forget.
Before being Muhammad Ali, Cassius Clay got into the world of boxing by having his bike stolen. He was angry and hurt; he wanted so badly to beat the person who had snatched his bicycle up. But the young Cassius realized that if he ever wanted to do such a thing, he would have to acquire some real---genuine---fighting skills to execute the job. Thus leading him into the harsh but exciting bloody profession known as boxing.
Once introduced to boxing, Clay trained hours upon end, and eventually worked his way through the ranks. But to some of his opponents, he mostly bragged his way. Nevertheless, by 1960 Clay entered the Olympics as a lightweight boxer (though later in his career he would transfer to heavyweight), and at the end of the day, he walked away with three gold metals.
From the Olympics Clay’s career sailed off. He went on to beat boxers such as: Sugar Ray Robinson, Joe Louis, Joe Frazier, Archie Moore, and George Forman just to name a few.
As his career went on, segregation became worse, and blacks were treated with second class respect. This led Clay to join the Black Muslim movement---a group that followed the teaching’s of Islam and believed in “black power.” As a member of the Islam nation, Clay changed his name to Muhammad Ali.
The boxing league was not pleased with this, and even though he had won the “Heavyweight Champion” title, it was renounced from his name, and he was excommunicated from the boxing league in 1967. His excommunication also dealt with Ali’s refusal to join the U.S. draft.
During this excommunication, Ali went to colleges to talk about equality, and protest against the Vietnam War. He inspired many students with his words.
When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Ali not be jailed for his refusal of the draft, the boxing league suspended Ali’s suspension, and let him back in so he could continue the profession that he so much loved. But even though he was back, that did not mean his excellent demigod like skills were coming back into the ring with him. In fact, it was just the opposite.
Upon coming back, a more tired, less agile Ali was in the ring. This made him more vulnerable to hard and devastating punches to his body. In fact the Ali that “floated like a butterfly and stung like bee” fought more like a fat gorilla on marijuana---he relied more on solid and direct blows to his opponent than he did on his lightning fast feet as he did in years past. In the end of his career in the late 70’s, a battered Ali came home to roost.
Muhammad Ali is the perfect example of a man that knew how to fight both with verbal and physical blows. Ali will always be remembered how he stood up for his beliefs against a ignorant government, and an nation that was likewise. Ali will be remembered how he battled against insurmountable odds---including his battle with Parkinson’s disease---and overcame them.
Muhammad Ali is hero for all generations and races.