“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” Not only a term Muhammad Ali lived by in the ring-but outside of it as well. Known for his record-breaking boxing career he is considered America’s greatest heavy-weight boxer of all time. As Sylvester Stallone said, “He’s everything an athlete should be and a man should be.” Muhammad Ali lost a battle with Parkinson’s disease June 3rd, 2016 at the age of 74, but his lasting impression will live on for a very long time.
Born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. in Louisville, KY January 17, 1942 to Cassius Marcellus Clay Sr. and Odessa Grady Clay. Ali’s boxing career started at the young age of twelve when his bike was stolen. He took up boxing to “whoop” the culprit. Little did he know that boxing would soon become his life-long passion.
Fast-forward to February 25th, 1964 and Muhammad Ali is twenty-two years old in the ring with Sonny Liston as an amateur fighter. In the eighth round Sonny falls to the ground and Muhammad Ali is crowned the heavyweight champion - breaking the record for the youngest man to be crowned the heavyweight champion. A record which he held for twenty-two years until Mike Tyson broke it in November of 1986 at the age of twenty. Ali ran around the ring shouting that he had, “shook up the world” that night. In 1971, Ali fought against Joe Fraizer the fight was dubbed as the, “fight of the century”. And in 1974, he took on the seemingly invincible champ, George Foreman known as the, “rumble in the jungle”.
Ali’s boxing career officially ended in 1981 when he announced that he would be retiring with a record that stands unmatched to this day of 56 wins and 5 losses; 37 being recorded as knockouts. Shortly after this, in 1984, Ali was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. However, despite his illness in 1996, his tenacity lead him to carry the Olympic torch in the Atlanta, Georgia games.
Ali’s career didn’t just stop at boxing. He also released an album called, “I Am the Greatest”. He even had his own cartoon called, “The Adventures of Muhammad Ali” in which he voiced the main character. More importantly, he was able to use his unparalleled stature to bring aid to North Korea, Afghanistan, and Cuba. This would lead him to earn, “The Presidential Medal of Freedom” in 2005. Ali was such a revolutionary figure that on the Hollywood walk of fame his star is the only one placed on the wall instead of on the ground so that no one could walk on it.
Two days prior to his death Ali was taken to the hospital because of respiratory problems. It was supposed to be a brief visit, but family was soon contacted and rushed to his side. Ali was a pinnacle of success and inspired those around them to believe in themselves. His motto, “I am the greatest” was entirely true. Muhammad Ali wasn’t only a revolutionary fighter but a revolutionary figure in American History as well. His influential talks and inspiring battles will live on with us forever.