He was raised in a middle class black household in the poorer district of the city. When he was 12, his new bicycle was stolen. When he went to the local police station to complain, the local policeman, Joe Martin, suggested to him to learn boxing. Young Cassius started training under Martin .who was also a boxing coach, in Louisville’s Columbia Gym. Although Martin gave him the idea and inspiration to become a boxer, it was the black trainer, Fred Stone, who taught Clay the finer intricacies of the science of boxing.
Boxing as a sport was known to the ancient Greeks and Romans. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, Boxing is a sport contested at the amateur and professional levels , which involves attack and defense with the fist. (Encyclopedia p. 177) Boxing had become a popular sport in the U.S, with the Irish immigrants, and later, the African Americans from early twentieth century. There were amateur and professional contests. Boxing was also a part of the Olympic Games. According to the Encyclopedia, Boxing first appeared as a formal Olympic event in the twenty third Olympiad in 688 B.C.(Encyclopedia 178) In the 1960 Olympiad, eighteen year old Cassius Clay won the gold medal, which brought him fame. But he knew the big money was in professional boxing. Ali signed the most lucrative contract- a 50-50 split -negotiated by a beginning professional in the history of boxing, with a 12 member group of millionaires called the Louisville Sponsoring Group.(Gale Cengage Learning)
He has a great media personality- his boasts and sayings created public interest in him. Unlike the other heavyweight boxers, who were usually quiet and retiring, he was fond of publicity. His wit also helped to make him well known. He is reported to have told Gilbert Rogin of Sports Illustrated, Boxing is dying because everybody is so quiet..What boxing needs is..more Clays (Gale) In February 1954, he boasted to the readers of the same magazine, Cassius Clay is a boxer who can throw the jive better than anybody. More money started to pour into the sport of boxing because of Ali’s flamboyant personality and his witty boasts.
In 1964, Ali fought Sonny Liston for the World Heavyweight Championship. Ali was only 22 at the time. Liston was a powerful fighter, but Muhammad Ali had science to his aid. Ali’s war cry had been, float like a butterfly, sting like a bee, which he did in the match in Miami. By using intelligence and science, young Ali won the championship. He beat Liston in a display of beautiful, controlled boxing. (Gale) Although Liston was very powerful, he went down to Ali, who used his skills with good planning and great courage and confidence.
An interesting anecdote about Liston is popular. According to Hauser, Liston picks up the dice and throws craps and there is a big silence. Then a voice comes, Look at that big ugly bear, he can’t even shoot.(Hauser p. 50) Clay had made his announcement to everyone present.
Confidence was the hallmark of Ali. Boxers without confidence are doomed. David Remnick writes about the fight on September 25, 1962. On the morning of the fight, the heavyweight champion of the world packed a loser’s suitcase. Floyd Patterson, for all his hand speed, for all the hours he put in the gym, was the most doubt-addled titleholder in the history of the division.(Remnick 1) But Ali was never doubt riddled, he was