Muhammad Ali Essay, Research Paper
August 28, 2000
Muhammad Ali, formally known as Cassius Marcellus Clay, became one the
best sport role model of all time. At the tender age of twelve, he and his friends went
to the Columbia Auditorium to visit the bazaar. When he and friends decided to
leave, he then realized his new bike was stolen. He was in a tearing rage, and he
went down to the gym basement, because he had heard there was a police officer
down there. Ali told the police what had happened, and was demanding a search.
The officer, Joe Martin, then asked him if he could fight, and Ali said no, so Martin
invited him to come to the gym and learn how to box. 1
Sadly the bike was never found. Cassius decided to have Joe Martin teach him
how to box. One night at dinner he said to his mom, ?I want to be a boxer? His
mother approved. She thought it would be better than roaming the streets. Cassius
went to the gym every spare moment. He learned how to throw punches, how to
jump rope, and how to hit the heavy bag and speed bag. He could take a hit and it
wouldn?t affect him, he would just throw one right back. After that fight he
told everybody that he would be the champion of the world.
Cassius was known as ?The King?, using the motto, ?Float like a butterfly,
sting like a bee?. He was a very dedicated person. He was always first to the gym,
and last to leave. At age 18, Cassius had already won six Kentucky Golden Glove
Awards, two National Golden Glove Awards, and in 1959-1960 he won the Amateur
Athletic Union (AAU) Titles. He fought in 108 amateur fights and won 100 of them.
Cassius was ready to turn pro.
While in the Rome Olympics Cassius had started reading Muhammad Speaks,
a magazine from Elijah Muhammad. Soon Cassius became a strong follower of
One day Malcolm X, a strong Muslim leader, visited Cassius at Fifth Street
Gym. Cassius said he wanted to change his name to Muhammad Ali, which means
?someone who is worthy of praise.? Ali?s grandfather was a slave and that?s where he
got the name Clay. Muhammad said he didn?t want a slave last name. Some people,
saw him as a role model, because of his devotion to his religion, Muslim. After
becoming a Muslim, he changed his name. He was baptized a Catholic, but got very
interested in The Nation of Islam.
In the beginning he hide his interests in ?The Nation,? because he felt that the
public was not ready for his conversion. In an interview, he was once asked if he
was a Muslim, and he replied, ?I am not Muslim, but they are the cleanest people I
have ever met.?2
He became very close with Elijah Muhammad and Malcom X. Malcom went to all
of Ali?s matches, and they ate breakfast together frequently.
He is the greatest of all time. He is a very nice man, who does many nice
things for charities and The Nation of Islam worldwide. He had gotten a lot of brain
damage from boxing that in his old age he could not speak and function
But, this does not affect “the butterfly” in his daily life. 3
In 1960, he won the Olympic Light ? Heavyweight Championship over Heavy
Weight Champion Sonny Liston. He trained very hard, and he did a good job, and
he produced a steady stream of headlines. He was the first boxer to benefit from
international television, as it makes him known to the world.
He was stripped of his title in 1967 during the Vietnam War for refusing
military service on religious ground. He said, ?If going to war, and possible dying,
would help twenty ? two million blacks in this country gain freedom, justice and
equality, I would join tomorrow.?4 He, also, said that he would not help kill the poor
in other countries, when it is happening to his own people in America.5 Ali returned to
fighting in 1970, culminating in the “Fight of the Century,” against Joe Frazier. This
was the first of three epic battles between these ring gladiators with Ali taking two
out of three bouts, including one of the greatest fights of all time, the “Thrilla in
Manilla.” In 1974, Ali demonstrated his ring brilliance by knocking out the
undefeated George Foreman to regain the Heavyweight Championship of the World.
The fight was held in Zaire, Africa, and was the first fight to be held on that
continent. Ali can truly be considered the first champion of the entire world and to
has served as an ambassador of goodwill for our nation to this day.
Ali regained his title back in a 1974 bout with George Forman, and he lost it
again in 1978 to Leon Spinks. He, then, regained the title back in the same year, thus
becoming the first man to win the title for the third time. 6
Muhammad Ali made a great contribution to boxing and the dancing style,
and he will never be forgotten for his amazing technique. Ali held the championship
until 36 years of age. 7 He and regained the championship title an unprecedented
third time by disposing of Leon Spinks in a rematch bout.
As a black man, living in an era that continued to question his rights as a
person, Ali faced and battled issues of race and class, and to this day ranks as one of
the Civil Rights movement. Not surprisingly, this adversity only made Ali stronger,
prouder, and more determined than ever to live his life with dignity and by his own
While it may have looked to some that the count was nearing ten and the final
bell was about to ring, Ali emerged from this battle with chin high and hands raised,
and years later would be selected the greatest athlete of modern times. 8 Leaving the
sport he loved with a record of 56 wins, 37 by way of knockout, he trekked a long
pilgrimage through religion and democracy to find himself an icon that will forever
touch the hearts of men. Muhammad Ali has been the very benchmark by which all
professional athletes are now measured. 9
Muhammad Ali was not only a boxer and a leader for African Americans, but
he was also a poet and philosopher. He was never very good in school but he could
always write great poems.
Today, Muhammad lives with his wife Lonnie in a beautiful house in
Handcock Park, Los Angeles. He is fighting the toughest fight of his life, it?s called
Parkinsons disease. He was diagnosed 16 years ago and it has kept getting worse.
That?s not the only bad thing. He has earned tens of millions of dollars in the ring.
Millions of that have been lost in bad investments, like ?Muhammad Ali Sports,?
which never made any progress.
His marriage also didn?t go well. In 1996 he divorced Veronica Porche and
quickly married Lonnie Williams. She is a Muslim woman who also grew up
in Louisville. His Courage Facing Parkinsons Muhammad has been suffering from
Parkinsons for 16 years. Parkinsons is a disease in your equilibrium that forces you of
balance and makes you shake. He has seen many doctors but Parkinsons is
an incurable disease.
He is the epitome of what is good in sports and what is true in men. One
sports writer wrote a long time ago about Ali, say, ?There are many men that are
affected by the times in which they live but there are very few that actually shape
1. http:/www.courier. journal.com/ali/cupnews/0.917transcript.html.
2. Tomas Hauser, ?Muhammad Ali in Perspective?. Collins Publishers, (Vancouver,
1996), pp 20-31.
4. Arlene Schulman, ?Champion?, Learner Publications. (Minneapolis, 1996), p56.
7. Richard B. Stolley ,?Turbulent Years The 60?s?, p40.
9. Gerald Early, ?The Muhammad Ali Reader?. (Hopewell: Ecco Press, 1998_, pp 56-
1. Stolley, Richard B. ?Turbulent Years the 60?s?, p 40.
2. Internet www.courier.journal.com/ali/cupnews/0917transcrip.html.
3. Conklin, Tomas. ?The Fight for Respect?. Brookfield, Agincourt Press, 1960.
4. Early, Gerald. ?The Muhammad Ali Reader?. Hopewell, Ecco Press, 1998.
5. Watts, Tessitore. ?Muhammad Ali, The Worlds Champion?. Danbury, Grolier
Publishing, 1998 pp 56-57.