Moments ago it was announced that Muhammad Ali, recognized as “The Greatest” by all, passed away at the age of 74.
Born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr. on January 17, 1942 in Louisville, Kentucky, he began training at the age of 12 and won the heavyweight title at age 22 by defeating Sonny Liston in 1964. Shortly after winning the title, Clay converted to Islam and changed his name to Muhammad Ali.
Ali was a three time heavyweight champion (1964, 1974, 1978), but more importantly, Ali became one of the most inspirational figures in history, known for standing up for himself and for those who sought and fought for basic human rights. He refused to be drafted and fight in the Vietnam war in 1967, was arrested and found guilty on draft evasion charges and stripped of his title. He faced intense scrutiny and criticism for many years, finally having the Supreme Court hear his appeal in 1971 and having his conviction overturned.
Ali had a professional record of 56-5 but it was his record outside of the ring that will always define his life. Even though he suffered from Parkinsons for 32 years, he still remained active and was always a presence no matter where he was.
Ali was a symbol of human rights. Always an entertainer, always a voice. Always a poet. Always a fighter no matter whether he was in the ring or outside of it and always unapologetically Black. But to all, he was always known simply as “The Greatest.”
RIP to Muhammad Ali, The Greatest.