The Prism: Every Side of the Story

The 20th Century’s Greatest Heavyweight Champion: Muhammad Ali

On January 17, 1942, Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. (Muhammad Ali) was born in Louisville, Kentucky. Clay grew up in a segregated area where he faced a lot of racial prejudice. Clay's talent for boxing was first discovered when, at the age of 12, someone stole his bike. Clay reported the theft to a police officer named Joe Martin. He told the police officer that he wanted to beat up the thief. Besides being a police officer, Martin was also a boxing trainer at a local gym. Soon later, Clay began training with Martin and his career as a boxer took off.  

  Clay’s first fight was in 1954. He won this fight by split decision - a decision that is based on a majority verdict rather than on a unanimous one, especially on a court panel or among referees judging the winner of a boxing match. Clay continued his career, and, in 1956, he won the Golden Gloves Tournament For Novices In The Light Heavyweight Class. Then, in 1958, he won The National Golden Gloves Tournament Of Champions. Clay went on to win more tournaments and changed his name to Muhmmad Ali in 1960.

Ali was drafted into the Vietnam War, yet refused to join. He was convicted of draft evasion and banned from boxing for three years, hindering further success. Ali returned to boxing in 1970, when he fought Jerry Quarry and won, knocking him out in the third round. In 1971, Ali fought Joe Frazier, in what was deemed the “fight of the century.” Unfortunately, he lost after 15 rounds, signifying his first loss in his career. In June of the same year, the Supreme Court overturned Ali’s conviction for evading the draft.  

On September, 15, 1978, Ali achieved one of his greatest accomplishments by defeating Leon Spinks, and won the World Heavyweight Boxing Title for the third time in his career. Shortly after this victory, Ali retired at the age of 39.

At the age of 74, Ali died from Parkinson’s disease and spinal stenosis. He still remains a boxing legend to this day, as there have been many books and movies dedicated to telling his story and sharing his legacy. 

“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” - Muhammad Ali 

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