The boxing legend, former heavy weight champion of the world, who was nicknamed “The Greatest”, Muhammad Ali, has passed away in hospital, HonorHealth Scottsdale Osborn Medical Center in Scottsdale, Arizona on June 3, 2016.
Muhammad Ali, born Cassius Marcellus Clay, will be laid to rest in the town of his birth Louisville, Kentucky.
In 1960, at the Rome Summer Olympics, Cassius Clay won the Light Heavyweight gold medal. Like other African American Olympians, he returned to the USA to the abuses and misfortunes of segregation to which he was dismayed. Later that year he began his professional boxing career with a win against Tunney Hunsaker. He followed with 19 more wins, 15 of which were knockouts. Through to 1963 Clay incurred the braggadocio persona that used poetry while insulting his opponents while referring to himself saying “you know I’m so pretty”.
Terms for his fighting technique were titled the “Ali shuffle”, the “snake lick” and the “rope-a-dope”.
Ali joined the Nation Of Islam in 1964. He was to inspire Martin Luther King Jr with his stance against the Vietnam War and was a friend to Malcolm X.
Ali took a stance against the Vietnam War in which he refused to serve in 1966. He was arrested and convicted of draft evasion for which he was stripped of his titles. He appealed to the US Supreme Court and the conviction was overturned in 1971. The duration of that time was his peak fitness therefore his boxing style changed considerably once returning to the ring. He was no longer know to “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” but perhaps known as more of a strategist with his rope-a-dope which conserved energy and banked on his large size to sustain the blows whilst against the ropes. This technique could have made him more physically vulnerable to blows to the head. Ali suffered from Parkinson’s disease and was diagnosed in 1984.
Ali was hospitalised last Monday, May 30th for respiratory illness and his condition became worse. He experienced multiple organ failure. The cause of death was indicated as Septic shock.
He had 4 career losses out of 61 matches, his most prominent matches were against Joe Frazier, George Foreman, Floyd Patterson, Ken Norton, Leon Spinks and Larry Holmes.
Their were famed matches, Rumble In The Jungle, a match between Ali and George Foreman (The Champ vs Big George), which took place at the 20th of May Stadium (now the Stade Tata Raphaël) in Kinshasa, Zaire (now Democratic Republic Of Congo) on October 30, 1974. Ali and Foreman were matched in height at 6 ft. 3 in, with Foreman weighing some 4 lbs heavier at 220 lbs. vs Ali at 216 lbs. Ali is quoted to have said to the press: “I’ve done something new for this fight. I done wrestled with an alligator, I done tussled with a whale; handcuffed lightning, thrown thunder in jail; only last week, I murdered a rock, injured a stone, hospitalized a brick; I’m so mean I make medicine sick.” Rumble In The Jungle was preceded with a 3 day music festival, Zaire 74 with artists such as James Brown, Miriam Makeba, Manu Dibango, Celia Cruz, Bill Withers and more. Ali to the match by knockout in the 8th round.
Thrilla In Manila, a match between Ali and Joe Frazier (The Greatest vs Smokin’ Joe), which took place in Quezon City, Manila, Philippines at the Araneta Coliseum on October 1, 1975. Ali was quoted to have delineated “killa and a thrilla and a chilla, when I get that gorilla in Manila.” Ali won by TKO in the 14th round.
He had a famous relationship coloured with banter with sportscaster Howard Cosell on television program, Wide World Of Sports (ABC)that fans highly enjoyed.
He was survived by his 9 children Maryum Ali, Jamillah Ali, Rasheda Ali, Muhammad Ali Jr, Hana Ali, boxer Laila Ali, Miya Ali, Khaliah, Asaad Amin and wife, Yolanda Williams.
Do you remember Muhammad Ali and Howard Cosell interviews on the Wide World Of Sports?