"Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee."

By Kate Liming
Jun. 04, 2016

The man, the myth, the legend. Muhammad Ali, born as Cassius Clay, was an all time legend in the world of boxing, becoming the heavyweight champion at the age of 22. In his outstanding career, he recorded significant numbers-61 total fights, 5 losses, 56 wins, and 37 of those wins being KOs. Although he was known for being one of the best athletes in American sports history, there were other important elements that made Muhammad Ali an influential and inspiring figure, especially during the time of the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement.

Muhammad, formerly known as Cassius Clay, was born in Louisville, Kentucky on January 17, 1942. The motive for Muhammad becoming a boxer at a young age was when a thief had stolen his bicycle. He went to a police officer, who was also a boxing coach, and told him that he was going to beat up this thief in revenge. The officer in response told Muhammad that he better learn how to box first. From that moment on, Muhammad had begun training at the age of 12 not to just beat up some thief who had infuriated Muhammad for stealing his bike, but with the dream of becoming someone big from Louisville, Kentucky and proving his worth. In 1954, his ametuer debut began and he would go on to win 6 Kentucky Golden Gloves, 2 national Golden Gloves titles, an Amateur Athletic Union national title, and the Light Heavyweight gold medal in the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome. His amateur career ended with 100 wins and 5 losses.

His professional career would begin in 1960 and by 1963, Muhammad’s record was 19 wins with 15 of those wins being KOs and 0 losses. After winning the heavyweight champion title in 1964 and changing his name from Cassius Clay to Muhammad Ali, the title was stripped away from him after he refused to fight in the Vietnam War based on his Islamic religious beliefs. Because of his actions, he was systematically denied a boxing license throughout the United States and was stripped of his passport. As a result, he was not allowed to fight for 3 years, which was from March 1967 to October 1970. He went from the ages of 25-29 without fighting. It was through this time in his life where he studied his religion and became an activist for African Americans. He joined the radical black civil rights movement also knows as the Nation of Islam in 1962, "Cassius Clay is a slave name. I didn't choose it, and I didn't want it," he said. "I am Muhammad Ali, a free name – it means beloved of God – and I insist people use it when speaking to me and of me." Muhammad Ali was more than a boxer. He was a man who would rather fight for peace than fight in the ring.

It was revealed in September of 2014 that Muhammad was diagnosed with a mild case of pneumonia and was hospitalized. Just a few months later in January of 2015, he had a urinary tract infection and was hospitalized after finding him unresponsive at a guest house in Scottsdale, Arizona. He was hospitalized a third time in June of 2016 for a respiratory problem and condition. It went from a fair condition to a more serious condition in a matter of days, which would lead him to be put on life support. Finally, on a late evening on June 3rd, 2016, it was breaking news that Muhammad Ali, aged 74, had passed away in Scottsdale, Arizona. He will forever be remembered as a legend in the world of boxing and the world of sports.

Cited Works:

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muhammad_Ali

2. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/muhammad-ali-symbol-of-the-civil-rights-movement-a7065361.html