I'm the Greatest
A sporting genius and a moral inspiration for millions, valor and utter humanity of Ali earned him love, affection and respect around the sphere. He was blessed with sublime boxing style, witty humor and a gentle heart. A life spent fighting for glory and charitable causes he finally lost his life battling with Parkinson at the age of 74. Ali was the most famous athlete on earth, he was not just American, he belonged to everyone, and his charisma was beyond continents. His impact recognized no color, no faith, no culture and no geographical boundary. Boxing was a major sport in United States about 50 years ago, in recognition and visibility to baseball and football it was perhaps the third most played sport. Athletes enjoyed significant television and newspaper coverage. Boxing was tremendously popular half a century ago. From ‘60s to the mid ‘90s, there were certainly highly-skilled, beyond doubt exceptional boxers contending for supremacy than at any other time in the boxing history. There were champions and there were contenders with the likes of Floyd Patterson, Marvin Hagler, Jimmy Ellis, Leonard, Roberto Duran, Sonny Liston, Alexis Arguello, George Foreman, Ken Norton, Larry Holmes, Joe Frazier, Joe Gans Ezzard Charles, Benny Leonard and dozens more.
During the golden era of boxing, there were two fighters who stood tall above all, Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali. Ali in Rome in 1960 won an Olympic Gold Medal for his country. He turned professional boxer after that. Thanks to his amazing skills and inborn talent he was at the top of the sport at the age of 22, he was crowned the world heavyweight champion in 1964 after a mammoth upset over champion Sonny Liston. Liston was a favorite; he was regarded to be nearly invincible, especially after knocking out former champion Floyd Patterson.
After winning the championship in 1964, Ali made a controversial decision that changed his life, Clay announced to the world that he had become a Muslim, he declared that he had changed his religion and had changed his name to Muhammad Ali, putting Clay as his slave name. Ali had a charismatic personality. Tall, handsome, quick and graceful in the ring, he was blessed with extraordinarily swift wit, an always smiling face, with a constant twinkle in his eye and no one could ever find that just how seriously he took himself.
Muhammad Ali became more contentious when in April 1967 he refused to be the part of U.S. Army. Among a vast community this act of his cemented his positive image and he was standing with the large number of anti-war Americans, who never agreed to US involvement in pointless war in Vietnam, half a world away. On the contrary there were countless Americans many among them older, who were more conservative, and did not respect his decision
Joe Frazier a new heavyweight boxer grabbed the attention of the boxing fraternity by the mid of 1960’s. He was aggressive and possessed an fiery boxing style. Joe was a trouble-free person, primitive, not involved in controversies, the complete opposite personality of Ali. He wasn’t loud. He never had any political issues. A down to earth man he was, Frazier was a hard working fellow. In the start of his career he trained at night in the gym. He used to work in a Philadelphia slaughterhouse all day long. A scene in the movie Rocky, Sylvester Stallone punching carcass was encouraged by Frazier’s early experiences. Frazier too enjoyed victories over the top fighters in the heavyweight category at a very young age. He was the new heavyweight champion after he overpowered Jimmy Ellis.
After few years, Ali resumed his boxing career and in no time he established himself as the top challenger for Joe’s heavyweight title. He enjoyed victories over Quarry and Bonavena. However looking at Ali’s claim this set up the Ali-Frazier title fight in 1971. The bout was titled as “The Fight.” Both the top boxers were undefeated. During the match Ali kept his cool, he was stylish as well. Regardless of the tension and controversies outside the ring their Fight itself was a once-in-a-lifetime sporting event. Both of them fought with intensity and courage that was hardly ever seen before. Their bout went the full 15 rounds, Frazier won, courtesy of his known roaring left hook.
Both Ali and Frazier shared the ring again in their third fight titled as “Thrilla in Manila” it was believably the most brutal, atrocious hard-fought boxing bout ever. Most of the boxing annalists claim that Ali and Frazier were washed out, the intensity and passion with which they fought was rarely ever seen before. Ali claimed that it was his superhuman effort of skill, courage, and stamina that he would never be able to showcase in the ring again. At the end of the 14th round with just one more to go, Ali asked his trainer Angelo Dundee, “Cut my gloves, I am done” signifying he couldn’t go on. However amazingly in the opposite corner of the ring, Frazier’s trainer, had already called it a quit to the referee, Carlos Padilla the referee, announced that Joe Frazier cannot go on. The Thrilla in Manila was over, Ali had won. Ali shortly after the bout in an interview claimed that it was the closest thing to death.
Muhammad Ali after his boxing career was ended served for humanitarian causes, he was known as the citizen of the world, his charitable works and his ability to speak for peace around the world earned him admiration, positive image and reputation. For many, his absolute bravery and dedication was again seen when lighting the Olympic Torch in Atlanta Georgia during 1996 Olympics, his hands trembled almost hysterically because of Parkinson’s disease but he didn’t give up. Muhammad Ali was certainly a compelling and enchanting figure, and possibly the “Greatest” boxer of all time