“Even the greatest was once a beginner. Don’t be afraid to take the first step.”
This famous saying came from the great African American Boxer known as Muhammad Ali. H was born in Louisville, Kentucky as Cassius Clay .Experiencing racial prejudice, he soon found his aspirations as a professional boxer after he had his bike stolen at the age of 12, saying to the officer and his boxing coach, Joe Martin, that he wanted to beat up the thief. Martin responded that he better learn to fight before he did anything. As they trained, young Cassius soon found that this was his passion and devoted all of his free time to the sport. Soon, he went for his first title as well as the career path that followed.
His vast victories started with his 1956 Golden Gloves tournament in the light heavyweight class, winning the National Golden Gloves Tournament of Champions and also the national title presented by the Amateur Athletic Union. He took home the Olympic gold medal for the light heavyweight class in 1960, then claimed the heavyweight champion of the world in 1964. Cassius soon after these victories converted to Islam, changing his name to the more well known, Muhammad Ali. Due to his conversion, Ali turned down the draft for the raging Vietnam War causing him to be stripped of his title and being suspended from the league for 3 years.
When Ali returned from his suspension he suffered from his first two losses in his career but, in 1974, he reclaimed the world heavyweight title from George Foreman. Four years later, Ali once again lost his title only to reclaim it one last time in a rematch, making him the first boxer in history to do this for the heavyweight title. In 1981, Ali retired from the league devoting more time to help raise funds for Parkinson’s disease, a neurological condition he himself suffered from. In 2005, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush.
From the streets of Louisville to the Olympic Ring, Muhammad Ali proved himself as a leader for the youth as a role model, a boxing legend, and a major contributor to the African American Community.