A Legend To Be Proud Of – A Tribute To Muhammed Ali (Jan 17, 1942 – Jun 03, 2016)


The African-American community has many men and women to be proud of and among them is the Star and hero in many ways, Boxer Great Muhammad Ali.

Muhammad Ali was born on January 17, 1942 as Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. in Louisville, Kentucky. Muhammad became a World Class Boxer, Olympic Gold Medalist over a long and successful career. Ali began training boxing training at the age of 12 and in 1964, at 22 years of age won the World Heavy Weight Championship over Sonny Liston .

Ali was not one to be shy or in the background and his life was proof of his convictions. Ali faced a media storm and the challenged the Judicial system during the Vietnam conflict. Ali changed his name shortly after the fight and win over Liston to remove the surname of Clay, Ali considered a slave name and became Muhammad Ali. In 1966 Ali refused to register for the draft by citing his religious beliefs and opposition to America and its involvement in Vietnam. This course of action led to Ali’s arrest by authorities and a long court battle lasting four years. Ali considered him a conscientious objector and was eventually convicted, lost an appeal and spent time in jail. Ali was not able to fight as he was stripped of his boxing license in the United States and his passport taken. Ali’s stand to refusal to be inducted into the Army resulted in Ali being unable to fight from 1967 until October 1970. The conviction was overturned in 1971 and Ali began boxing as if there had never been a break, his passion and dedication to boxing remained strong. Ali went on to win World Heavy Weight Champion titles in 1964, 1974 and 1978. Ali garnered the nickname, “The Greatest”. The title fights gained worldwide attention and fame with fights named, “Fight of the Century”, Super Fights II, "Thrilla in Manila" against rival Joe Frazier. The fight with George Foreman was titled, “The Rumble in the Jungle.” Ali continued to fight until he retired in 1981. Ali went on to be welcome guest and friend to Presidents and visited the White House many times .

Ali was known for his sharp with and quick comebacks during interviews and in dealing with the media. He was a man of convictions and was unafraid to stand for them and against racism and injustice. Later in life in 1985, Ali was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and began another great battle. Ali has been and remains to be an icon, a leader in what it means to stand up for one’s convictions even if it means a conviction and incarceration. Ali set the stage for many young men and women to follow. Local legend and Boxer China Smith had this to say about Ali, “ Ali’s famous float like a butterfly, sting like a bee and Rumble young man Rumble, means to me, do what you feel is right even when everyone else and the odds are against you. Ali did that all the time with the odds and racists against him. His religious beliefs were different but he stood up. I wanted to be like him!!! Ali never forgot his love for people and never forgot where he came form. I never forget where I came from. Ali set a great example of doing what is right. “ We salute and miss Muhammad Ali and agree, “He moved like butterfly and stung like a bee and Ali was and will always be “The Greatest.”