On June 3, 2016, the news spread around the world about the death of Mohammed Ali, the legend of world boxing of the 60s and 70s, recognized by some sports publications as the “Sportsman of the Century”. Here are just a few interesting facts from the life of the king of the world ring.
He was born in 1942 in Louisville, Kentucky and was named by his parents as Cassius Marcellus Clay. The boxer took the name Mohammed Ali only in 1964, having converted to Islam. Clay stated that he did not want to bear the surname that the slave owners gave his ancestors anymore.
However, among the ancestors of the Clay family were not only slaves. His mother Odessa Grady Clay carefully researched her pedigree and found that there was an Irishman Abe Grady in her family and even US Presidents Harrison, Tyler, Taylor and Harrison were among her distant relatives.
The boy decided to start boxing at the age of 12. Moreover, there was a good reason for this: a bicycle was stolen from him, for which Cassius earned his own labor, he washed the floors at the University of Louisville. The teenager turned to a policeman for help, promising to beat the thief. To this, the law enforcement officer replied that it would not hurt to do boxing. Two weeks later, Cassius came to the gym.
Already at the beginning of his boxing career, Clay dreamed of a professional ring. The coaches persuaded him to wait until the 1960 Olympics. At the games, the 18-year-old boxer turned out to be the youngest among the heavyweights, but managed to win the tournament by defeating the experienced Pole Zbigniew Petszikowski in the final. Interestingly, Cassius suffered from a fear of flying. To participate in the Olympics, Cassius needed to make an air flight and he told his coach that he was refusing to participate in the Olympics. For two hours, Clay's mentor convinced him that if he did not fly, he would ruin his career. In the end, Cassius agreed to fly, but took precautions - he bought a parachute in a military store and flew right in it.
Clay fought his first fight as a professional boxer on October 29, 1960. The rival was Tunny Hansecker. Despite the fact that in 6 rounds none of the rivals managed to finish the fight ahead of schedule, Clay was declared the winner by the decision of the judges, and Hansecker said that today he fought with the future champion.
In April 1967, when Ali had already earned more than $ 3 million in the ring, the boxer had problems with justice. Mohammed refused military service and was put on trial. The athlete was deprived of his license as a professional boxer and world titles. Weaning from boxing lasted more than three years. During this time, Ali advertised hamburgers, wrote an autobiography, and even played in a musical.
The court's decision was reversed only in 1971. The commission took into account the fact that Muhammad Ali's religious beliefs did not allow him to take up arms.
On March 31, 1973, Mohammed met with Ken Norton, his opponent never had significant fights, and for his last fight he received only $ 300. Suddenly, in the second round, Ken delivered an accurate blow to Mohammed's jaw and broke it. The doctor in Ali's corner wanted to stop the fight, but the boxer forbade him to do it. The fight lasted all 12 rounds, Ali lost by split decision.
Ali's professional career lasted over 20 years: from 1960 to 1981. During this time, the athlete fought 61 fights, scoring 56 victories. In 37 fights, Muhammad Ali ended the fight ahead of schedule, knocking out his opponent.
Ali has been married four times and has seven daughters and two sons. The marriage broke up due to the fact that his wife did not want to convert to Islam, Ali chose religion between marriage and religion.
In 1978, the athlete visited the Soviet Union. Here he held a three-round demonstration fight. Moreover, in each round there were different rivals: Peter Zaev, Evgeny Gorstkov and Igor Vysotsky. In addition, Ali met with Leonid Brezhnev and received from him the books "Small Earth", "Revival" and "Virgin lands".
Since 1984, the athlete has suffered from Parkinson's disease. Despite his illness, Ali was active: he donated huge sums to charity, was a Goodwill Ambassador, and often visited poor countries in Africa and Asia.
In 1993, Mohammed Ali, according to the Associated Press, was recognized as the most recognizable sportsman in the world. 97% of Americans knew about him.