Muhammad Ali



The career of Cassius Clay began at the age of twelve. After his brand new bike had been stolen at the Louisville Home Show. Cassius clay, better know as Muhammad Ali, had a difficult childhood dealing with segregation laws, but grew up to become a famous boxer.

Muhammad Ali was born on January 17, 1942 Louisville, Kentucky, and was raised in a clapboard house at 3302 Grand Avenue in middle-class Louisville, Kentucky. His mother Odessa Clay was quiet and religious, she was her son?s roll model. His father Cassius Clay Sr. was fiery and artistic, he gave Muhammad his courage and strength, and also has a younger brother by the name of Rudy. He began boxing at the age 12. A white Louisville patrolman named Joe Martin, who had an early television show called ?Tomorrow?s Champions,? started Ali working out in Louisville?s Columbia Gym, but it was a black trainer named Fred Stoner who taught Ali the science of boxing.

After winning an Olympic gold medal at 18, Ali signed the most lucrative contract ? a 50-50 split ? negotiated by a beginning professional in the history of boxing, with a 12-member group of millionaires called the Louisville Sponsoring Group. Later, he worked his way into contention for the coveted heavyweight title shot by boasting and creating media interest at a time when, by his own admission, he was only ranked number nine on the list of contenders. Even from the beginning, it was clear that Ali was his own man--quick, strong-willed, original, and witty. In 1961 he told Sports Illustrator?s Gilbert Rogin, "Boxing is dying because everybody's so quiet.... What boxing needs is more ... Clays." Ali knew that his rhymes and press-grabbing claims would infuse more interest and more money into the sport of boxing, and he was his own best public relations man. In February of 1964 he told readers of Sports Illustrated, "If I were like a lot of ... heavyweight boxers ... you wouldn't be reading this story right now. If you wonder what the difference between them and me is, I'll break the news: you never heard of them. I'm not saying they're not good boxers. Most of them ... can fight almost as good as I can. I'm just saying you never heard of them. And the reason for that is because they cannot throw the jive. Cassius Clay is a boxer who can throw the jive better than anybody. "The following month Ali ? then still Cassius Clay ? fought Sonny Liston in a match of classic contenders for the heavyweight championship of the world. The Miami fight almost single-handedly restored intelligence and balance to boxing. Cassius Clay had been chanting the war cry "Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee" for weeks; he beat Liston in a display of beautiful, controlled boxing. Liston could hit with deadly power, but Ali utilized his skills and courage with forethought and aplomb. He won the fight to become heavyweight champion of the world. At the tender age of 22, Ali knew that he was something above and beyond a great boxer: He had marketing sense, political finesse, and a feeling of noble purpose.
Throughout his career and life, Ali has always professed to want to help other black Americans--and he has, time and time again. When he returned from Italy, having just won an Olympic gold medal, he was so proud of his trophy that he wore it day and night and showed it to everyone, whether they wanted to see it or not. In the Philadelphia Inquirer Ali's first wife remembered him saying "I was young, black Cassius Marcellus Clay, who had won a gold medal for his country. I went to downtown Louisville to a five-and-dime store that had a soda fountain. I sat down at the counter to order a burger and soda pop. The waitress looked at me.... 'Sorry, we don't serve coloreds,' she said. I was furious. I went all the way to Italy to represent my country, won a gold medal, and now I come back to America and can't even get served at a five-and-dime store. I went to a bridge, tore the medal off my neck and threw it into the river. That gold medal didn't mean a thing to me if my black brothers and sisters were treated wrong in a country I