Sports journalism likes to get hyperbolic in order to sell a story, so plenty of athletes have at one point or another been called arguably the best ever to enter their field. However, in sports and popular culture in general, only one man has the moniker as simply being The Greatest. It takes a huge ego to call yourself that and an even greater talent to repeatedly prove your reputation as such, but Muhammad Ali was more than capable of delivering in both fields. Muhammad Ali passed away on June 3, 2016, and endless tributes have followed, all of which made sure to mention Ali was more than just a fighter or an entertainer; Ali was The Greatest Of All Time in both arenas.
Ali was born Cassius Clay in January of 1942, but it was the name Muhammad Ali that turned him into an international superstar in the early 1960’s. Ali didn’t win every single fight, nor did he win the most fights per capita—in fact, for several years in the midst of his prime, he was all but banned from the boxing world due to his efforts at protesting the United States government and advancing the Civil Rights movement.
Once Ali was allowed back in the boxing ring in the 70’s he became an even bigger worldwide sensation, proving he was The Greatest all over again, and showing his age wasn’t slowing him down in any way. Ali stepped out of the ring in 1980 when his health started deteriorating, and he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1984. Nonetheless, Ali’s reputation as a showman and sportsman only strengthened in hindsight. In retrospection of his death, join us on our journey through 15 facts that prove Ali was the Greatest of All Time.
15 He Won Golden Gloves As A Teenager
14 He Won The Gold Medal At The 1960 Olympics
13 He Won The World Heavyweight Boxing Title At 22
12 He Fought For What He Believed In
11 He Refused To Fight In Vietnam
10 He Was Forced Out Of Boxing At His Peak
9 He Fought For Civil Rights During His Down Time
8 He Fought The Fights Of The Century
7 He Won The Rumble In The Jungle
6 He Survived The Thrilla In Manila
5 He Was a 3-Time World Champion
4 He Never Stopped Fighting
3 He Was The Sportsperson Of The Century
2 He Was A U.N. Messenger Of Peace
1 He Redefined The Concept Of Trash Talk
More than anything else, the legacy of Muhammad Ali will always be not that of a man who dominated in the ring like any other, but rather as the man who turned trash talk into a damn near art form. Ali didn’t invent the idea, and in fact famously claimed to have had his personality inspired by legendary wrestler Gorgeous George, but he redefined the sporting world where managers did most of the talking and started letting athletes become entertainers on an entirely different level. Ali wasn’t just the greatest boxer or fighter of all time, he was arguably the greatest showman and entertainer of all time as well, and he managed that with his quick wit, incredible cadence, and ability to bask in the spotlight like no other.
Sources: BBC, Wikipedia
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