Muhammad Ali is by far one of the greatest and most accomplished fighters to date. He started boxing at an early age; dominating most of his opponents to become the world heavyweight champion a record two times. While many people have watched Ali’s vintage matches, and appreciated the legend that he was whenever he was in the ring.
Muhammad Ali Facts
Here is a detailed review of the top 10 facts about Muhammad Ali that many do not know:
10. Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr
Muhammad Ali, commonly known as the greatest is one of the most celebrated sports personalities to date. However, did you know that Muhammad’s birth name was Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr? Marcellus Clay, the person who Ali’s father inherited his name from was a popular farmer and anti-slavery crusader in the nineteenth century. For his role in the Mexican-American war (editing anti-slavery newspapers and commanding troops), he later served as a Russian Minister under President Abraham.
Even though Muhammad Ali used his real name for a greater part of his armature career, he confirmed to the public that he had joined the Nation of Islam in May 1965 in Lewiston, Maine the morning after defeating his bitter rival, Sonny Liston. Inspired by Malcolm X who was also his good friend; Ali renounced his birth name and called himself Cassius X. The leader of the Nation of Islam then, Elijah Muhammad later on renounced Cassius X and baptized him a holy one, Muhammad Ali, on March 6 1964.
9. The People’s Champion
Throughout his professional career, Muhammad Ali’s ring or commendatory name was “The Greatest.” However, did you know that Muhammad Ali’s commendatory name in the ring was once “The People’s Champion, albeit for a short time? Inspired by the boxing skills and charisma of Muhammad Ali in the ring, a legendary boxer, Elvis Presley, designed a special robe for the boxer with the slogan “The People’s Champion” printed on the back. Ali accepted Presley’s gift and won it to his next bout. Unfortunately, he lost. He considered the robe Elvis Presley has given him as the source of his bad luck and blamed it for the loss. In protest, Muhammad Ali ditched the robe and never wore it again for the rest of his career. In 19975, Muhammad Ali denounced the Nation of Islam and became a Sunni.
8. Olympic Gold Medal in Ohio River
Did you know that Muhammad’s first Olympic gold medal lies at the bottom of Ohio River? Muhammad Ali started fighting at a young age. At 18-years-old, he had graduated from high school and was enjoying a successful armature-boxing career. He represented the United States in the 1960 Summer Olympics held in Rome, Italy and won the light heavyweight gold medal in the boxing event. However, after returning to the United States, Ali was a victim of racism in a local diner in Ohio, because of his religion and family’s immigrant status. In protest, Muhammad in his biography alleged that he threw the Olympic medal to the bottom of Ohio River, where it lies to date. According to him, he did not want to wear an accolade that reminded him of the racism, and inequality among races that was rampant in the US then. Although many people have disputed his claim, Muhammad received a replacement Olympic gold medal mimicking the one that he lost.
7. Muhammad’s Three-Year Boxing Ban
Did you know that the United States of America slapped Muhammad Ali with a three-year boxing ban because of “indiscipline?” In 1967, during the war with Vietnam, the US military initiated a rigorous recruitment campaign for untrained solders that would bolster their personnel that were already in Vietnam. Because of personal and religious reasons, Muhammad refused to join the US military. In response, the authority arrested the heavyweight champion. The Athletic commission in New York State also suspended his boxing license and stripped him off the championship title.
After a grueling battle in court, the jury found him guilty of draft evasion and ordered a five-year prison sentence and a 10,000-dollar fine. Ali and his team of lawyers appealed the decision at New York State Supreme Court. Muhammad was free all this while and able to train at the confines of his home and local gym. In 1970, the Supreme Court ordered the New York State Athletic commission to reinstate Muhammad’s boxing license. They did, and Muhammad triumphed over Jerry Quarry in a heavyweight bout organized in October 1970. Ali won his court case the next year.
6. Mohammad Ali the Singer
Many boxing legends are known for their off-the-ring talents. Muhammad Ali is no different. Apart from boxing, did you know that Muhammad is a good singer and once used his talent to earn a living? During Ali’s ban from the ring, Muhammad appeared on seven episodes of the Buck White, a musical exhibition that aired on December 2, 1969 in York’s George Abbot Theater. His voice, charisma, and confidence drew good ratings from the audience. In 1964, he released a music album “I am the Greatest,” which featured hit songs such as “Stand by Me.” He sung on many stage over his career.
5. Muhammad Ali the Poet
Apart from singing and acting, did you know that Muhammad Ali is a renowned poet? Since his armature boxing days, Ali has used the element of poetry to praise himself and taunt his opponents, when preparing for a big bout. In 1963, for instance, Ali released a spoken verse album titled “I am the Greatest” which won in global recognition, particularly in Columbia.
4. Single-Cut Record
During boxing events, cuts are common on the face of boxer especially during heavyweight bouts. Throughout Muhammad’s 110 armature fights and 61 professional ones, he has only had a single cut on his face. In their light heavyweight match held in November 1972, Bob Foster, split his left eyelid. However, Muhammad won the match after knocking him down many times. His well-conditioned skin, height, and technical skills improved his ability to dodge heavy punches, especially those targeted at the face/upper body.
3. Mohammad’s 836,000 Dollar Gloves
Since time immemorial, many sports personalities have auctioned their memorabilia for record amounts of money. However, only a few records come close to the one set by Muhammad Ali’s gloves. After knocking out Sonny Liston in their world heavyweight bout held in Miami Florid in 1964, an anonymous buyer bought Muhammad Ali’s gloves for a whopping 836 thousand dollars. The record sale of his championship gloves overshadowed the 630 thousand dollars Ali earned for the heart-throbbing championship victory.
2. Inspiration from a Red and White Schwinn Bicycle
Many people inspired the successful boxing career that Muhammad Ali has enjoyed. Apart from his father, Ali was an avid fan of Sugar Ray Robinson. His technical skills and charisma in the ring was a major attraction and inspired many people to join the industry. While these personalities have played and essential role in Ali’s life; it is surprising that his inspiration for boxing came from his red and white Schwinn Bicycle.
During his childhood, Muhammad Ali has a red and white Schwinn bike that he loved so much. However, in October 1954, somebody stole his bicycle. Muhammad, who was 12-years-old then, went to the police station in Louisville, Kentucky to report the case. He recorded a statement and vowed to beat up the culprit. To help calm down the youngster, the police officer who was handling his case, Joe Martin, suggested that he learns how to fight first, before confronting his culprit. He enrolled Ali in his gym, trained him the essentials of boxing, and scheduled his first bout after six weeks. Although Ali was a rookie, he won the fight albeit by split decision.
1. One Knock-out Loss
Since he debuted in the boxing industry many years ago, Muhammad has had one of the most successful careers of all time. He has fought in 110 armature fights and around 61 professional fights. However, he has been knocked down only five times, once during his armature career and five times in his professional career. However, Ali has only lost one boxing bout by knockout. This was in his early years as an amateur boxer. Even though Joe Fraser knocked down Ali once, and defeated him for the championship belt in March 8, 1971, he won by decision, not by knockout.