Why Will Ali Always Be A Hero In The Middle East?

There are few more inspirational sporting athletes to have ever graced the world than Muhammad Ali. The boxer was born in Louisville, Kentucky in 1942, but his story is one that has transcended the world over. His legacy as one of the finest boxers to have ever lived has helped inspire all future generations of aspiring world champions, while it was also his actions outside the ring that also taught important life lessons.

There is nowhere that he is more popular than in the Middle East. The large number of people that wager on boxing at Arabwinners.com mirrors the popularity of the sport in the region - and much of this is due to Mohammed Ali. Muhammad Ali became a hero to Muslims all around the world because of his compassionate character and staunch commitment to Islam.

Early Career

Ali’s first steps in the world of boxing were taken at a local gym in Louisville when he was aged just 12. After just six years of training, he joined the United States Olympic team for the 1960 Games, where he won the prestigious gold medal in the light heavyweight division.

Soon after the Olympics, he turned professional and began making his mark in the sport with a string of dominant wins. His debut win was scored against Tunner Hunsaker when he was aged just 18, but his dynamic knockout power was shown in subsequent bouts against Herb Siler, Tony Esperti, and Jim Robinson.

World Title Glory

After building up a professional record of 19-0 with success against Henry Cooper at Wembley Stadium aged just 21. Ali finally got the shot that he had been dreaming of in February 1964, as he challenged the great Sonny Liston for the WBA, WBC, and The Ring heavyweight titles. In a stunning performance, Ali captured the world gold aged 22 in Miami. However, it was his second victory to retain the titles that caught the imagination, as he sensationally knocked out Liston in the opening round.

Ali would go on to successfully defend the titles on eight occasions, with the last of those coming by a seventh-round knockout against Zora Folley. However, the example of Ali’s power away from the ring was evident between 1967 and the early 80s. Ali took a stand against being drafted into the army due to segregation laws and his anti-war stance. This move would see Ali convicted before the decision was overturned in 1971.

Return To The Ring

Ali’s stance to refuse to fight meant that his boxing license was denied in every state, but he spent time actively protesting against the war in Vietnam. By the time Ali returned to the ring, he had lost the majority of his prime years. However, the Super Fight was finally set in March 1971, as he clashed with Joe Frazier at Madison Square Garden for the WBC, WBA, and The Ring heavyweight titles.

Ali would ultimately lose the showdown between the legendary boxers, but he would continue to dominate for years to come with victories across the planet against Jurgen Blin, Mac Foster, and George Chuvalo. A second career defeat was suffered by a split decision in March 1973, as he was beaten by Ken Norton, but he quickly reclaimed the title before the end of the year. In the opening month of 1974, he avenged his previous career defeat with a unanimous decision victory over Joe Frazier at Madison Square Garden.

Second World Title

The victory over Frazier set the scene for one of the world’s most historic bouts- The Rumble in the Jungle. Ali came up against one of his biggest challenges to date in the form of the hard-hitting George Foreman, and many expected the legendary Ali to fall short in his dream of winning a second world title. However, in many ways, this fight encapsulated exactly what Ali was about.

Ali would encourage the hard-hitter to attack him with shots, but the legend just moved out of the way and would continue to taunt Foreman. This irate Foreman continued to throw aggressive shots but couldn’t get near Ali, and the legendary boxer took full advantage when his opponent tried to score a famous victory by flooring his opponent in the eighth round.

He would then go on to hold the titles until a defeat against Leon Spinks, but he quickly regained the titles for a final championship run, before it was brought to an end with his only knockout defeat at the hands of Larry Holmes.

The Greatest Champ Of All

There is little denying that Ali is the finest sporting star that we have ever been blessed with. While his achievements in the ring speak for themselves, his ability to unite away from the ring was what made him such a legendary figure, who not only changed boxing for the better but also the world.

Share this story

must see