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Muhammad Ali was born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. on January 17, 1942. He is certainly considered one of the world’s greatest heavy weight fighters ever.
He won the gold medal in the 1960 Olympics in the light-weight division. He won the lineal heavyweight championship three times and was the first boxer to do so.
Cassius Clay became Muhammad Ali after joining the Nation of Islam in 1964. He converted to Sunni Islam in 1975.
I remember the controversy surrounding his refusal to be inducted into the army in 1967. Many people did not support him in his decision. I remember people commending Elvis for serving and condemning Ali for not. He opposed the Vietnam War because of his religious beliefs.
I served in Vietnam but I commend Ali for sticking to God against all odds.
He was arrested. He was found guilty on draft evasion charges. He was stripped of his boxing title. His boxing license was suspended. He appealed and it took the Supreme Court and four years to return him to boxing.
The Greatest by Mickey Dee
He was born to Cassius Marcellus and Odessa Grady Clay.
Little Cassius would grow to be the “Greatest” many would have to say.
This given name came from the 19th century abolitionist.
The name changed to Ali when he proved his mettle with his fists.
He was pushed into boxing by a Louisville cop who was white.
Boxing coach Joe Martin would teach him how to fight
Along with Fred Stoner who also taught him how to strike.
It’s all started out because someone stole his bike.
He rose to professional stardom with help from Angelo Dundee.
His fights were won with hard work that few would ever see.
As an amateur he won two National Golden Gloves.
Boxing might take him higher than any of his other loves.
He won the Olympic Gold Medal, a very incredible feat.
He tossed it in the Ohio River after not being allowed to eat
At an all-white restaurant. They didn’t know his name.
But why should it matter if he had or had not fame.
A fighter named Terrell kept calling Ali, Clay.
But in the ring when it mattered Ali Made him pay.
“What’s my name Uncle Tom”, you could hear Ali say.
He punished and humiliated “Uncle Tom” Terrell that day.
Most boxers put their hands up, Ali carried his down low.
He used his speed and quickness to carry his every blow.
Ali could spin the wrist right at the moment of a strike.
He honed his skills of which there was none the like.
He took the heat, even defeat, and weathered the worst.
Perhaps more than other fighters –perhaps he put God first.
Ali proclaimed himself the “Greatest” as he took on every foe.
He defeated Sonny Liston, George Foreman and even Smokin’ Joe.
He could anger an opponent, sap his energy, and take his hope.
Ali was smart, honed techniques, and used the rope-a-dope.
He floated like a butterfly and he stung worse than a bee.
If you look at all he’s become, the “greatest” may have been Ali!
We all have opinions and surely so do you.
Let's agree Joe and George were pretty cool too!
“My toughest fight was with my first wife.”
“I'm so fast that last night I turned off the light switch in my hotel room and was in bed before the room was dark.”
“I figure I'll be champ for about ten years and then I'll let my brother take over - like the Kennedys down in Washington.”
“I'll beat him so bad he'll need a shoehorn to put his hat on.”
“It's not bragging if you can back it up.”
“I'm not the greatest; I'm the double greatest. Not only do I knock 'em out, I pick the round.”
“Boxing is a lot of white men watching two black men beat each other up.”
“It's just a job. Grass grows, birds fly, waves pound the sand. I beat people up.”
“Joe Frazier is so ugly that when he cries, the tears turn around and go down the back of his head.”
“I am the astronaut of boxing. Joe Louis and Dempsey were just jet pilots. I'm in a world of my own.”
“Superman don't need no seat belt.”
“When you can whip any man in the world, you never know peace.”
“I am America. I am the part you won't recognize. But get used to me. Black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own; get used to me.”
“Life is a gamble. You can get hurt, but people die in plane crashes, lose their arms and legs in car accidents; people die every day. Same with fighters: some die, some get hurt, some go on. You just don't let yourself believe it will happen to you.”
“If they can make penicillin out of moldy bread, they can sure make something out of you.”
“My way of joking is to tell the truth. That's the funniest joke in the world.”
“The real enemy of my people is here. I will not disgrace my religion, my people or myself by becoming a tool to enslave those who are fighting for their own justice, freedom and equality. If I thought the war was going to bring freedom and equality to 22 million of my people they wouldn’t have to draft me, I’d join tomorrow. I have nothing to lose by standing up for my beliefs. So I’ll go to jail, so what? We’ve been in jail for 400 years.”
“I believe in the religion of Islam. I believe in Allah and peace.”
“It's the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief. And once that belief becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen.”
“Religions all have different names, but they all contain the same truths. ... I think the people of our religion should be tolerant and understand people believe different things.”
“He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.”
“It isn't the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it's the pebble in your shoe.”
“Friendship is the hardest thing in the world to explain. It's not something you learn in school. But if you haven't learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven't learned anything.”
“Hating people because of their color is wrong. And it doesn't matter which color does the hating. It's just plain wrong.”
“Give up what appears to be doubtful for what is certain. Truth brings peace of mind, and deception doubt.”
"It's lack of faith that makes people afraid of meeting challenges, and I believed in myself.”
“A rooster crows only when it sees the light. Put him in the dark and he'll never crow. I have seen the light and I'm crowing.”
“Silence is golden when you can't think of a good answer.”
“Love is a net that catches hearts like a fish.”
“Old age is just a record of one's whole life.”
“We have one life; it soon will be past; what we do for God is all that will last.”
“I'd like for them to say he took a few cups of love, he took one tablespoon of patience, one tablespoon, teaspoon of generosity, one pint of kindness. He took one quart of laughter, one pinch of concern, and then, he mix willingness with happiness, he added lots of faith, and he stirred it up well, then he spreads it over his span of a lifetime, and he served it to each and every deserving person he met.”
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