Muhammad Ali is a true legend of professional boxing. However, he gained fame not only in the ring, but also at the expense of his activities outside of it. Ali fights became boxing classics, and his statements are cited, and charitable activities are recalled.
Films, books are written about him. There is no doubt that this great athlete with his career shook the world and showed what a man with strong will can achieve.
However, in the biography of “The Greatest” there were a lot of unusual and interesting facts that the general public does not even guess. So let’s learn a little more about the legendary boxer and personality of Muhammad Ali.
The stolen bike inspired his career.
Before fluttering like a butterfly, and stinging like a bee, Cassius Clay was an ordinary 12-year-old boy. In October 1954, he did not think about the career of a boxer. His parents instilled in the teenager good manners, taught drawing and even poetry. And the father at Christmas gave his son a red bicycle brand “Schwinn”. While the boy and friend were walking around the stalls at the fair, someone stole two-wheeled vehicles from Cassius. The crying boy complained to the local police officer, Joe Martin. The teenager promised to teach his offender a lesson when he finds him. But, looking at the skinny figure of the boy, Martin advised him to first learn to fight. Surprisingly coincidentally, the policeman was also a boxing trainer. Cassius left a statement to the police and forgot about the advice.
But two weeks later, the teenager saw Martin and his charges in the program “Future Champions”. Ambitious Cassius also wanted to get on TV screens. So he started training. Martin advised the ward first thing to develop speed and began to put the technique, which became the basis of corporate identity. Cassius gave his younger brother a bunch of stones and made them throw at him. A few weeks later he learned with a fantastic reaction to shy away. After a month and a half, Clay won his first fight, which, of course, was shown on TV in “Future Champions”. Opponent, Ronn O’Keefe, was larger and more experienced, but Cassius won by a decision of the judges. And then Martin continued to teach the ward all the tricks. In 1956, Ali resigned his first in the career tournament “Amateur Gloves” and the path to fame was opened. Of course, his bicycle Cassius Clay back so never received, and even if ever met a thief, it is likely just shook his hand.
Fear of flying.
In preparation for the 1960 Olympics in Rome, Ali suddenly realized that he would have to get there by plane. The athlete asked to send him by boat. But when the 18-year-old boy was refused, he decided that for the sake of some kind of gold medal in the Olympics, there was no risk of dying in a plane crash. And Cassius Clay decided to abandon the most prestigious competition. Fortunately, coach Joe Martin persuaded his ward to fly. True, the boxer demanded additional security guarantees. Before taking off at a military store, he bought a parachute and did not take it off during the whole trip. Some say that Ali prayed all the way, while others claimed that he tried to distract himself by constantly boasting about future victories.
Back in the States, Ali bought himself a bus for future trips. He said that this transport, having broken down, will not fall from a height of several kilometers. But later Ali managed to overcome his fear. After applying to Islam, the boxer stated that Allah will not allow him to die in a plane crash. The boxer’s daughter, Mariam Ali, said that the only time she saw the fear in her father’s eyes was during a jolting in a flying airplane. The boxer’s eyes widened, and he clearly wanted to be on the ground at that moment.
Muhammad Ali did not throw out his gold medal.
This story is one of the myths about Muhammad Ali. Every great American has his own legends.But Washington did not cut the cherry tree, Walt Disney did not undergo cryogenic freezing, and Muhammad Ali did not throw his gold Olympic medal into the Ohio River. However, in this case, this legend was created by its hero. And it began with a victory at the Olympics in 1960. In the finals, Ali was able to defeat the experienced Polish boxer Zbigniew Peshikovsky. After that, the American went everywhere with a medal, showing it to others and even going to bed with her. However, Ali quickly discovered that victory did not give him much.
Once he entered the only restaurant in the city for whites, where the athlete was told that the Negroes were not served there. Then Ali, allegedly responded that he wanted to not even eat, but just sit. Nevertheless, he was quickly deported. In his 1975 biography, the boxer revealed that he was angry when he approached the Ohio River and threw in a medal that did not change his social status in any way. And only after years, Ali told that in fact he could not do so with a valuable reward. As a journalist, he admitted that he simply does not remember where he put his medal. Fortunately, in 1996, the legendary boxer was given a copy of the award. But he almost dropped the Olympic torch of Atlanta that year.
The roots of the myth should be sought in 1975, when Ali became a member of the NOI (Nation of Islam) organization. She preached the superiority of the black nation and believed that white people are the creatures of the devil. So Ali’s book turned out to be extremely politicized and supportive of NOI’s views. So several stories were interpreted in favor of Ali’s new reality. But how can you blame him for that? He grew up in the south, where a black man was always considered second-rate. Even after the transition to a new religion, most reporters refused to call him Muhammad Ali, still referring to Cassius Clay. And although the legend of the discarded gold medal turned out to be false, it was inspired by a cruel reality.
Fraud in battle.
When the word “swindler” is found next to the name of Muhammad Ali, it is often the first great challenger of the champion, Sonny Liston. Some say that he smeared his gloves with ointment, which temporarily blinded Ali. Many suspected that having the glory of champion Liston was afraid of his young competitor. He, realizing that he is losing the fight, deciding to use the prohibited means. But even fewer people know that Ali’s first fight against the English fighter Henry Cooper is also “badly smelled.” But this time the team differed from the American.
The battle took place on June 18, 1963 at Wembley Stadium in London. Among the audience was a lot of stars, among them Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. For Ali himself it was a bad fight. Shortly before the end of the fourth round, Cooper put the opponent on the floor with his left hook. Ali himself later recalled that the blow was so strong that his ancestors in Africa felt it. But luckily for Ali the round ended before the referee had time to start counting.
And then everything began to look very strange. Ali was literally stunned, there was no way to stand in the next round. Then coach Angelo Dundee decided to approach the matter creatively. He quickly tore off the glove from his hand and damaged it. The boxer needed new ammunition, while it was changed, he managed to come to his senses. It is said that four or five minutes passed between the rounds, which was quite enough for Ali. The newly acquired energy along with the ammonia, where Dundee probably added something, allowed the boxer to continue the fight. But in England for boxers were banned any stimulants, except water. When the gong rang, Ali quickly cut an eyebrow at his opponent. Due to a severe wound, the Englishman was forced to abandon the continuation of the battle. Nevertheless, Cooper turned out to be a decent athlete. When he learned about Dundee’s trick, he said that his coach would certainly have done the same.
Ali is a musician.
And although Ali is widely known for his fisticuffs and prophetic poetry, he also had another hidden talent.In 1964, shortly before his first heavyweight title fight with Sonny Liston, Ali released a music album. He was called modestly “I am the Greatest”, he was recorded by Columbia Records. The album included the most famous poems of the boxer. In his usual style, Ali praised himself: “This is the legend of Cassius Klee” or “I am the most beautiful fighter in the world today”, I predicted the outcome of the battle with Liston: “He can not fight, I watched him fight with the shadow. So she won in the first round. ” Nevertheless, Ali not only boasted in the album. Toward the end of the album, he quietly sung the classic Ben E. King “Stay with me,” and then performed the popular song “The whole gang in the collection” in 1960, where he interviewed the cities of the world to support themselves, the beloved.
That album on sale never really appeared. After the change of boxer religion and the name of Columbia Records decided not to continue to cooperate with him and not develop a singing career. Ali’s album was quickly removed from the shelves of stores. But this did not stop the athlete’s musical aspirations. In 1976, he released the album “Ali and his band against Mr. Caries.” The boxer taught the children to keep oral hygiene with chastooshkas. To the question: “Who made a crack in the Bell of Freedom” the answer was: “Ali, Ali”. But this time the project was supported by some famous friends of the champion. So, Frank Sinatra performed the party of the evil man-ice cream, and Howard Cosell sang “Song of Struggle”, describing the crucial battle of Ali with caries. And although this masterpiece is incredibly difficult to find, the performance of the boxer “Stay with me” is available. Just remember that Ali was not a pop star, you should not expect miracles from his singing.
Muhammad Ali persuaded the suicide not to jump from the roof.
In 1981, a 21-year-old resident of Los Angeles climbed to the ninth floor of the building. The guy claimed that he was hunted by Vietcong, and therefore he intended to commit suicide. The situation looked gloomy – the police could not persuade him to come down, while the crowd urged the guy to jump off, tired of waiting for the denouement. A tragedy could have happened, if not for Muhammad Ali. The former boxer was not far away when he found out about what had happened. Without the least hesitation, Ali hurried to the building and offered his help. Desperate police were ready to try any ways to solve the problem. But Ali was warned that a young man might have a weapon. To which the champion just shrugged, being ready to take such a risk. Ali made his way as close as possible to the guy, sticking his head out of the next window. The young man was shocked to see the most famous athlete in the world, who appeared next to nothing out of nowhere. He shouted: “It really is you!”. In the next half hour, Ali spoke with a young man about his difficult family life and employment problems. The champion said to him: “You are my brother. I love you, so I can not lie. ” Ali persuaded the guy to unlock the door leading to the fire escape. Then he led the young man down and put him in his limousine. The boxer took the guy to the hospital and promised him to arrange his future. “Saving lives is more important for me than winning the World Cup,” Ali said afterwards.
Muhammad Ali against the wrestler.
In the biography of Muhammad Ali there were some cult fights. So, his legendary trilogy with Joe Frazier ended with a bloody “Thriller in Manila.” During the “Rumble in the jungle” Ali in the eighth round defeated George Foreman in the difficult conditions of tropical Kinshasa. And in a duel with Ken Norton Ali beat him all 12 rounds, despite the jaw fracture that happened right at the beginning of the fight. Thinking about the great boxer, these stories are remembered. But the duel with Antonio Inoki makes Ali’s fans shudder. It all began in 1975, when the boxer met with the president of the Japanese Amateur Wrestling Association. Ali asked if there was an oriental fighter who would challenge him. That was Antonio Inoki.He was a pioneer of the MMA, defeating even the two-time Olympic champion in judo Wilhelm Ruska. Now, to a long list of victories, the Japanese decided to add another well-known boxer.
Ali accepted the challenge, and the battle took place on June 26 at the Buokan arena in Tokyo. But when the boxer appeared in Japan, strangeness began. Some argue that the outcome of the battle was predetermined in advance, and Ali only had to succumb. However, when the champion found out about this, he refused to play by such rules. According to other sources, the fight was originally supposed to be an exhibition. When Ali realized that Inoki was a professional in this sport, a panic arose in the team. The Americans offered their own set of rules: Inoki could not grab the boxer, use his knees and throw his opponent on the floor. The Japanese obviously did not like this, and he decided to play his script.
During the night battle, Inoki spent almost the entire fight on the floor, lying on his back and kicking Ali with his feet, if he was getting too close. And although the fight between representatives of two martial arts took place, he was not as exciting as he wanted. The most interesting moment happened when Ali tried to grab Inoki by the foot. The wrestler turned over Ali and sat on the opponent’s face for the next few seconds. In the rest of the time, Inoki simply threw out occasional strikes, and Ali teased him. After 15 rounds, the judges announced a draw, during which time the boxer was able to inflict only six blows. But his feet were filled with blood. Dissatisfied spectators shouted and demanded their money back. Both fighters became richer for several million dollars, and then even made friends.
Ali is a wizard.
Muhammad Ali was able to hypnotize not only his opponents in the ring, but also the public. And for magic, he needed only a coin or a scarf. One of the boxer’s favorite tricks was the disappearance of the object without a trace. Ali quickly moved the coin to the other side of the palm, magically restored the cut piece of the object, turned the scarf into a cane in the blink of an eye. But his most famous stunt was “levitation.” Ali turned to the spectators with his back, raised his heels and suddenly rose several centimeters above the ground. The trick was so natural that even David Copperfield called this trick classic. But in Ali’s opinion, people should not ask questions about the essence of tricks for a long time, because Islam does not allow deceiving. The fake finger helps to disappear, and levitation is provided by standing on the tips of the fingers of the left leg. Eventually, Ali’s tricks were just a tool to prove how simple it was to deceive people.
Hostages released in Iraq.
In the early 1990s Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein invaded Iraq. The US military decided to strike back. To protect himself, Hussein captured many hostages. He hoped that 2,000 foreigners could serve as a good living shield. Of these, by the way, about seven hundred were Americans. Negotiations for the liberation were rather difficult until Muhammad Ali interfered in them. And although the whole world knew him, the boxer himself was going through hard times. In 1981, he officially retired from boxing after a humiliating defeat from Trevor Berbick. And in 1984, Ali announced to the world that he was suffering from Parkinson’s disease. Six years later, he could no longer speak quickly, nor move quickly. Once a boxer fluttering around the ring swallowed words, and his hands trembled. Nevertheless inside he was still a fighter, and when he heard about the situation with the hostages, he decided to lend a helping hand.
At that time, Ali was the most famous Muslim in the world, which could help in an Islamic country. When Ali arrived in Baghdad, he went to Saddam’s palace and spent 50 minutes in conversation with the dictator. The former sportsman experienced speech problems and actively gesticulated to explain his intentions. Through an interpreter Ali told me that he came here with peace. He said: “I did not come as a politician. I am an American, but I am a Muslim. ” Ali advised Hussein to release the hostages, as this will be a good PR move.Throughout the world, people will see that negotiations with Iraq are possible. Already next month, Antonio Inoki, Ali’s longtime rival, came here to secure the release of Japanese hostages.
And the boxer stayed in Iraq for several days, visiting local shrines and meeting with the inhabitants of the country. Ali waited until Saddam completed his part of the deal. During his stay, Ali practically spent all his medicines, but refused to fly home until his compatriots were released. As a result, Hussein released 15 US prisoners of war, who owe their lives to Muhammad Ali. It’s no wonder that people call it the Greatest, the reason is not only sports achievements, but also a broad soul.
Superman against Muhammad Ali.
In comics about Superman, there are actually existing personalities, beginning with Orson Welles, Jerry Lewis and John F. Kennedy. But never this was accompanied by the birth of a real epic, as happened with a duel between the Man of Steel and the Greatest. Created this comedian Dennis O’Neill and Neil Adams with the approval of the spiritual mentor of the champion, Elijah Muhammad. In 1978, this creation appeared under the title “Superman Against Muhammad Ali.”
On the giant cover, there was a duel of two heroes in the stadium, and among the audience were such celebrities as Frank Sinatra, Five Jackson, Kurt Vonnegut, Lucille Ball. Even the cult heroes Batman and Lux Luthor were noted. But why fight such goodies at all? Naturally, to protect the Earth from an alien invasion! When the evil Rat’lar, Emperor Scrubba, declared that he would destroy our planet, there was only one way to defend it. It was better to defeat the enemy soldier in hand-to-hand combat face to face. And for the right to enter into this righteous fight, the two greatest terrestrial heroes, Superman and Muhammad Ali, came together.
Obviously, the battle between them was initially unequal. Although Ali was a muscular guy, he could not resist the magic hero. But both fighters made a deal. The Kryptonian agreed to hold a duel on the planet near the red sun, hiding it from the superpowers. Ali said he would show Superman this box. The heroes fought equally, but in the end, Ali won, becoming the champion of mankind.
Meanwhile, the aliens did not think to hold back the promise and were going to invade Earth, regardless of the outcome of the fight. Then Ali worked out a secret plan with Superman. When Ali boxed with Hung’Ya, his assistant Bandini Brown had to secretly sneak into the alien ship. At the last moment, Bandini removed the mask and it turned out that he was actually Superman. Ali at the same time actually distracted his enemies from the attack of his comrade. In the end, Superman defeated Rath’lar, and Muhammad defeated Hung’Ya in the ring. Two heroes shook hands, and Ali said: “We are the greatest!”.
However, there is one thing that obviously did not like the comic fan. At the very end of the story, the champion revealed that he recognized the secret of Superman’s personality. Allegedly this was the only way to persuade Muhammad Ali to consent to the use of his image in the comics.