Global sports icon and boxing legend Muhammad Ali passed away today at the age of 74 in Phoenix, Arizona. Ali was battling Parkinson’s disease since 1984. The boxer, arguably the greatest sports icon of the 20th century, was named the world heavyweight champion by the World Boxing Association three different times, in 1964, 1974, and 1978. Besides, he was also an Olympic gold medalist.
Apart from his feats in the ring, what added to Ali’s aura were the principled stands he took against racism and the Vietnam War. Later, he became a global figure as he used his fame from boxing to enter the world of philanthropy as he actively engaged in various causes including Human Rights violations, hunger, and HIV among others.
Today, as the world mourns the death of a legend, Sportskeeda presents to you some little-known stories about the man and the legend that Muhammad Ali was.
1. A stolen cycle was what got Ali to start boxing
Muhammad Ali’s boxing career wouldn’t have even started had it not been for a stolen bicycle and a chance meeting with a certain Joe Martin. As the story goes, a 12 year Cassius Clay was attending an annual convention of the Louisville Service Club at the Columbia Auditorium with a friend. On returning from the convention, Clay couldn’t find his new red and white Schwinn bicycle. A tearful Clay was directed to the basement of the auditorium by onlookers.
The basement happened to be a boxing gym where a certain Joe Martin, a policeman manning the gym met a crying Clay and asked him one question that would turn his life around. “Well, do you know how to fight?” Clay quipped back, “No, but I’d fight anyway.” To this Martin suggested, “Why don’t you learn something about fighting,” Martin suggested, “before you go and make any hasty challenges?” And Clay followed his advice and hence started his journey to boxing glory. Martin went on to become Clay’s first trainer.