Muhammad Ali: The Man, the Myth, and the Legend
Muhammad Ali is one of the most decorated athletes in American history. For decades he dominated the boxing world going against any and every opposition that came before him. His stamina and charisma has yet to be matched by any athlete since him. The Vietnam War drove many Americans into the vicious battle. Many served faithfully but Muhammad Ali refused to serve his country in that way. His career was threatened and he was on the verge of being named one of the great villains of American history simply because he refused to fight in a war that his religion did not believe in and that most Americans would find in bad taste just years later.
Muhammad Ali started off as Cassius Clay of Louisville who goes to a local store in search of merchandise and leaves his bike sitting unchained outside of the store. When he comes back the bike is gone and Clay is furious. He hunts for the nearest police officer in hopes of getting his bike back somehow, but the police officer could not help him and Clays vow to beat up the culprit (Ezra 7). Clay ironically took up boxing several months after the ruling of the Brown v. Board of Education court case. The story of Clay meeting Joe Martin is one of the defining moments in the man that would become Ali’s boxing career (Ezra 7). Without that moment in history you can validly argue that Muhammad Ali might have never became the legend that we know today.
Clay was born to Odessa Grady Clay and Cassius Clay Sr. on January 17th, 1942. His mother had roots going back to an Irishman named Abe Grady while his father claimed to be related to Henry Clay, a great politician of the American Whig party (Edmonds 13-14). Cassius Clay was sheltered from the type of life that kids his age and ethnicity dealt with. He never had to help to support his family. At a young infant Ali was always energetic who ran instead of stumbling around and even had enough power in his small body to knock his mother’s teeth loose albeit it was an accident. His mother also mentioned that Ali used to constantly talk as a child even going so far as to round up the neighborhood kids and chitchat with them (Edmonds 15).
Muhammad Ali’s career began after he became the owner of a prized red Schwinn bicycle. Ali spent his first day of ownership riding around with his buddy showing off his new possession. They soon found themselves getting free food from a merchant’s exhibition. After the event was over Ali soon realized that his prized bike had been stolen and confronted an officer at the basement of the local boxing gym (Edmonds 18). The man that he ran into was Joe Martin, a police officer whose actual passion was boxing. He offered to give the young lad boxing lessons so he could “whup” the person who took his bike. Ali initially refused but eventually decided that he would take the lessons after he saw some of the kids Martin had taught on television (Edmonds 18-19). As Ali grew as a man so did his...