Muhammad Ali

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By: James Eicher E-mail: The Greatest Muhammad Ali is one of the best, if not the best, boxers of all time. He was an influential leader not only inside the ring, but throughout the world. His overwhelming confidence captured millions, bringing the sport of boxing the publicity it has always deserved. Though many criticized his brash comments, he became a role model of children across the nation. He frequently gave speeches in schools and ghettos throughout America. He managed to succeed in a world that was run by whites. Born January 17, 1942, in Louisville, Kentucky, Cassius Clay, Jr., displayed fighting skills early in his life when he punched his mother after she spanked him for misbehavior. It was not until he turned 12, however, that he became interested in boxing. He had just received a new, red bicycle for his birthday, so he and a friend rode bikes to the fair.

While he was milling around, someone stole his bike. He searched for his bike for hours, but it was to no avail. When he started asking people on his block if they had seen it, someone suggested he go ask Joe Martin, a policeman and owner of a boxing gym. Cassius was awestruck the moment he walked into the gym. Joe gave him an application and Cassius joined the gym the following day. Though he had not found his bike, he did find his future. Cassius trained constantly. He worked out after school every day, and he trained with Fred Stoner after supper from eight until midnight. Finally, his hard work was starting to pay off. In 1956 he won the Kentucky Golden Gloves tournament. Then, in 1958, he won the Louisville Golden Gloves light-heavyweight crown. He went on to win the National Golden Gloves light-heavyweight title in Chicago.