Muhammad Ali arguably one of the greatest boxers of all time. Some, including himself, would call him the greatest. You can dispute this if you wish but one thing is certain: the man was unbelievably skilled and just as charismatic.
Muhammad Ali, formerly known as Cassius Clay, made his debut in 1954, at the age of just 13. He won against Ronnie O’Keefe by split decision and over the next 6 years, he would continue to fight. By the time he made his professional debut, in 1960, he was already a master of the sport.
In less than 3 and a half years, Ali won 19 professional matches and lost none! And while he did face some challenges along the way, including a few knockouts, nobody was skilled enough to win against him. This record granted him the opportunity to fight for the title against a man who was more feared than respected at the time: Sunny Liston.
Fighting Sunny Liston
Liston was thought to be unbeatable. His strength, combined with his reach and his troubled past made him the kind of boxer that you did not want to fight. For any amount of money! But Ali was as confident as ever. He had already developed his bragging style that would become legendary in the sport and get imitated by many other fighters throughout the years, including Conor McGreggor. No doubt, this was one of the main reasons why the Irishman got so many fans over the years and was always regarded as a hot pick by sports betting sites like Rivalry. Ali’s confidence could be seen throughout the match. Before its start, he called Liston a bear and said in a comment that after he beats him, he would donate him to the zoo. Needless to say, people were eager to see if Ali’s skills would match his word. And when the match came, they certainly did.
The match lasted for 7 rounds and ended with a TKO. This was the famous TKO that Ali would joke about later, saying that his punch was so fast that people couldn’t see it. One thing is certain: his opponent didn’t see it coming.
This was a massive upset and it wouldn’t be the last.
After beating Floyd Patterson in 1965, Ali had a few other fights, with much smaller fighters. He won all of them but then, in 1967, he was stripped of his title for his refusal to serve in the army. On top of that, he was also condemned for 5 years in prison and received a $10,000 fine. The verdict was appealed. But Ali lost his right to box for more than 3 years. On June 28th 1971, the Supreme Court of the United States overturned his conviction.
Fighting Joe Frazier
The second big fight of Ali’s career was against Joe Frazier. It was called the “Fight of the century” and it was, indeed, a spectacular event. Ali tortured his opponent with harsh words before the fight began, but when the two men stepped into the ring, Ali was obviously unprepared for the challenge. The years he had spent outside the ring had made him a much weaker fighter and Frazier took full advantage of this. Ali got knocked down but eventually lost by unanimous decision. This was his first defeat as a professional boxer, after more than 20 victories.
Ali would go on to lose another important fight in the coming years, against Ken Norton. But overall, his record was amassing a lot more victories than
The Rumble in the Jungle
This was probably Ali’s greatest match. In fact, this might have been the greatest match in the history of boxing. Ali’s opponent was George Foreman, whose strength and skill in the ring were legendary.
Foreman was much bigger and much stronger than Ali, and had won numerous fights via knock-out prior to fighting him. Nobody gave Ali a chance. The whole fight was regarded as just a way to make a lot of money. Each fighter received $5 million for agreeing to take part in it, which was a huge amount at the time. Keep in mind, the year was 1974.
Before the fight, Ali said non-stop that he would dance and that Foreman wouldn’t be able to touch him in the ring. People expected him to run away or receive a quick knock-out but instead, Ali threw a lot of right hand leads in the first round, angering Foreman. George would go on to hit Ali with all his strength for 7 more rounds, without succeeding in knocking him down. And in the 8th round, Ali ended the match with a series of well-placed punches. The rest, as they say, is history.