Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Ali Steps In Ring For Last Time
On Dec. 11, 1981, Muhammad Ali's fights in his 61st career fight, losing to Trevor Berbick. It would be his last fight in his professional career.
At the ripe age of 18 Cassius Clay, now known as Muhammad Ali, earned a Gold for the United States in the 1960 Rome Olympics in the Light Heavyweight class.
At the age of 22, Ali won the world heavyweight championship from Sonny Liston.
Ali changed his name from Cassius Clay to Muhammad Ali after joining the Nation of Islam in 1964, subsequently converting to Sunni Islam in 1975.
In 1967, three years after Ali had won the heavyweight championship, he was publicly vilified for his refusal to be conscripted into the U.S. military, based on his religious beliefs and opposition to the Vietnam War.
Ali would go on to become the first and only three-time lineal World Heavyweight Champion.
Nicknamed "The Greatest," Ali was involved in several historic boxing matches.
Notable among these were three with rival Joe Frazier, which are considered among the greatest in boxing history, and one with George Foreman, where he finally regained his stripped titles seven years later. Ali was well known for his unorthodox fighting style, epitomized by his catchphrase "float like a butterfly, sting like a bee", and employing techniques such as the Ali Shuffle and the rope-a-dope.
Ali brought beauty and grace to the most uncompromising of sports and through the wonderful excesses of skill and character, he became the most famous athlete in the world.
He was also known for his pre-match hype, where he would "trash talk" opponents, often with rhymes.
In 1999, Ali was crowned "Sportsman of the Century" by Sports Illustrated and "Sports Personality of the Century" by the BBC.
Ali finished his career with 61 fights, winning 56 times, 37 by knock out, with only five losses. His fastest win came via knockout when he was just 19 years old. On Feb. 7, 1961, then Clay beat Jim Robinson in the first round just 1:34 into the fight.