"I am the greatest; I said that even before I knew I was." Do you know the name of the person who said this? It's none other than Muhammad Ali, the heavy weight boxing champion of all times. There are very few people who call themselves greatest and yet receive all the glory. He was one such person who demanded glory and got it for himself. One can only dream of becoming a person like him for the things that he has believed and stood for are things not everyone can do. He remained an iconic figure and the king of heavy weight champions. He made himself known to the world in the 1960 Olympics in Rome when he won the light heavyweight championship. He was then fighting under the name of Cassius Clay which was his name by birth.
Ali came from a middle class family and was raised in Louisville, Kentucky. Do you want to know how he landed to boxing? When he was twelve years old, his new bicycle got stolen. That was the incident that motivated him to learn boxing. He was determined never to become victimized again and so he resorted to boxing and concentrated completely on changing his mind and body for the sport. He became a Golden Gloves champion at the age of 17, an Olympic gold medalist at age of 18, and an undefeated heavyweight champion at the age of 22. But all these titles were only the beginning of his career. Little did he know what awaited him in the future.
He followed a highly unorthodox style of boxing. He was a person who got his inspirations from challenges. His biggest strengths were the combination of extreme speed followed by immense power. With this particular talent, he was able to taste victory thrice in the world heavyweight championship. Watching him fight with force and grace was indeed a visual treat for the spectators. As the years passed by, his speed slowed down but he used his intelligence in the ring and it was a breathtaking experience to watch. But one could say that he experienced moments of glory in his personal life more than being a sports person. He has always stood up as a strong and determined individual in his personal life. He was against racial segregation and he still remains the champion of the civil rights movement. He converted to the religion of Islam and refused to join the U.S Military as he was against fighting the Vietnam War.
He was ripped off the heavyweight title but he became a stronger person and decided to live his life with dignity according to his own conviction. Very few champions have adorned the glory and glamour like Muhammad Ali. Ali finally retired in the year 1981 and he had achieved a record of 56 wins, 37 by knockout, and five losses in 61 bouts. Tragedy struck in his life in the year 1984 when he was diagnosed with a neurological disorder called the Parkinson syndrome. Little did he think about the side effects of the repeated head injuries he attained during his career. It had affected his brain and caused a hormonal imbalance. The imbalance caused involuntary movement, decreased movement, rigidity, and abnormal walking and posture.
But he still had his moments of glory and in the year 1996, he lit the Olympic torch and declared the games open in Atlanta. Despite his advancing age, the fame and glory which he earned still remains as strong and fresh as ever. He has remained a boxer, philanthropist and social activist all his life. Millions of people still throng to meet him when he makes a public appearance. I recently watched a program about Ali which was aired on TV through one of the service providers FiOS TV. However these days, he hardly speaks in public as he is overcome by fatigue. Although he has turned 70, he will continue to remain a champion and a legend in the truest sense.