RIP Muhammad Ali, a true world legend

Posted: 06/04/2016 in boxing
Tags: , , , , , ,

The photo below was taken by a gentleman named Neil Leifer. In my opinion, it might be the best sports photo ever taken. famous.Ali.photo

Leifer snapped this photo at ringside when photographers had to go develop the film to see if they nailed the shot. As you can see, he captured Muhammad Ali in full powerful glory with a first-round knockout of Sonny Liston in 1965.

The photo displays Ali at perhaps the top level of his boxing career — and a much different version of the man that the young people of today envision.

Muhammad Ali died on Friday night at the age of 74 and it is one of those deaths that hits everyone.

He transcended the sports world and is truly one of the legends of our time.

Ali battled Parkinson’s disease for the last 32 years of his life and I can tell you firsthand what a despicable, horrible disease it is. I know this because my father died from it.

While my dad’s health was deteriorating, I began praying with a request that nobody I knew ever get diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. I later upgraded it to ask that even people I don’t know not receive the diagnosis.

So part of me thinks of the sad way Ali lived the latter part of his life. Nobody of his stature deserves that.

But think of the way the younger Ali lived.

Wow, did he live.

I have no firsthand knowledge of how big Ali was in the 1960s but I can attest to his status in the 1970s. Every one of his fights was a major deal and the hype was incredible. This was before the ESPN era, mind you.

He would go on some crazy rants and would ridicule opponents and you never knew what was coming next.

“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee,” was one of his famous lines that you would hear repeated on the playground over and over.

Yeah, it is hard to believe Muhammad Ali no longer lives on planet Earth.

Here is a quick synopsis of his boxing career for the youngsters frequenting this website.

He was born as Cassius Clay and first earned boxing fame by winning the 1960 gold medal at the Summer Olympics in Rome.

He later changed his name to Muhammad Ali in 1967 when he joined the Nation of Islam. He refused to serve in the military during the Vietnam War, was found guilty of draft evasion and was stripped of the title he won in 1964 with the first of his two victories over Liston.

Ali eventually returned to boxing and suffered a loss to Joe Frazier in 1971 in one of three memorable fights between the two. Ali won the other two bouts, including the “Thrilla in Manila” in 1975.

In 1973, Ali suffered a stunning defeat when then little-known Ken Norton broke Ali’s jaw at the San Diego Sports Arena and won a 12-round split decision.

Ali regained the heavyweight title for the second time in 1974 when he defeated George Foreman in the famous rope-a-dope fight in Zaire.

Ali’s career record was 56-5 with 37 wins by knockouts. His last fight was in 1981 and he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1984.

And now, on June 3, 2016, a true legend has died.

He often referred to himself as “The Greatest.”

He just may have been right.

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