Muhammad Ali is a true legend of professional boxing. Ali's fights have become boxing classics, and his statements are quoted, and his charity work is also remembered.
They make films about him, write books. There is no doubt that this great athlete shook up the world with his career and showed what a person with a strong will can achieve.
However, in the biography of "The Greatest" there were many unusual and interesting facts that the general public does not even guess. So let's find out a little more about the legendary boxer and the personality of Muhammad Ali.
The stolen bike inspired his career. Before fluttering like a butterfly and stinging like a bee, Cassius Clay was a typical 12-year-old boy. In October 1954, he did not even think about a boxing career. His parents instilled in the teenager good manners, taught drawing and even poetry. His father also gave his son a red Schwinn bicycle for Christmas. While the boy and a friend were walking around the stalls at the fair, someone stole Cassius's two-wheeled vehicle. The crying boy complained to the local police officer, Joe Martin. The teenager promised to teach his abuser a lesson when he finds him. But, looking at the boy's skinny figure, Martin advised him to first learn how to fight. Surprisingly, it coincided that the policeman was also a boxing coach. Cassius left a statement to the police and forgot about the advice.
But two weeks later the teenager saw Martin and his charges on the Future Champions program. The ambitious Cassius also wanted to get on television. So he started training. Martin advised the ward to develop speed first of all and began to put on the technique that became the basis of the corporate identity. Cassius gave his younger brother a pile of stones and made them throw them at him. Within a few weeks, he had learned to dodge with a fantastic reaction. A month and a half later, Clay won his first fight, which, of course, was shown on TV in The Future Champions. The opponent, Ronn O'Keefe, was bigger and more experienced, but Cassius won by decision. And then Martin continued to teach the ward all the wisdom. In 1956 Ali conquered his first ever Amateur Gloves tournament and the path to glory was opened. Of course, Cassius Clay never got his bike back, and even if he ever met a thief, he probably just shook his hand.
Fear of flights. While preparing for the 1960 Olympics in Rome, Ali suddenly realized that he would have to get there by plane. The athlete asked to be sent by steamer. But when the 18-year-old boy was refused, he decided that for the sake of some kind of Olympic gold medal, it was not worth the risk of dying in a plane crash. And Cassius Clay decided to abandon the most prestigious competitions. Fortunately, Coach Joe Martin persuaded his ward to take the flight. True, the boxer demanded additional security guarantees. Before takeoff he bought a parachute in a military store and did not take it off during the entire trip. Some say Ali prayed all the way, while others claimed he was trying to distract himself by constantly bragging about future victories.
Back in the States, Ali bought himself a bus for future travel. He said that this transport, having broken down, would not fall from a height of several kilometers. But later Ali managed to overcome his fear. After converting to Islam, the boxer said that Allah would not allow him to die in a plane crash. The boxer's daughter, Mariyum Ali, said that the only time she saw fear in her father's eyes was during a shaking in a flying plane. The boxer's eyes widened, and he clearly wanted to be on the ground at this moment.
Muhammad Ali did not throw away his gold medal. This story is one of the myths about Muhammad Ali. Every great American has its own legends. But Washington did not cut the cherry tree, Walt Disney was not cryogenically frozen, and Muhammad Ali did not throw his Olympic gold medal into the Ohio River. However, in this case, this legend was created by its hero himself. And it began with a victory at the 1960 Olympics. In the final, Ali managed to defeat the experienced Polish boxer Zbigniew Petszykowski. After that, the American went everywhere with the medal, showing it to others and even going to bed with her. However, Ali quickly discovered that the victory did not give him much.
Once he entered the city's only restaurant for whites, where the athlete was told that negros were not served here. Then Ali allegedly replied that he did not even want to eat, but just to sit. Nevertheless, he was quickly expelled home. In his 1975 biography, the boxer said that angry he went to the Ohio River and threw a medal there, which did not change his social status in any way. And only years later, Ali said that in fact he could not do this 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. And he nearly dropped the Atlanta Olympic torch that year.
The roots of the myth must be looked for 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 were the works 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 can you really blame him? He grew up in the south, where a black man was always considered second-rate. Even after converting to the new faith, most reporters refused to call him Muhammad Ali, still calling him Cassius Clay. Although the legend of the discarded gold medal turned out to be false, it was inspired by the brutal reality.
Fraud in battle. When the word “fraud” appears next to the name of Muhammad Ali, it is most often about the champion's first great rival, Sonny Liston. Some say he smeared ointment on his gloves, which temporarily blinded Ali. Many suspected that the famed champion Liston feared his young rival. He, realizing that he is losing the fight, deciding to use a prohibited means. But even fewer people know that Ali's first fight against British fighter Henry Cooper also smelled bad. But this time the American team distinguished itself.
The fight took place on June 18, 1963 at Wembley Stadium in London. There were many stars among the spectators, 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 his opponent to the floor with a left hook. Ali himself later recalled that the blow was so strong that his ancestors in Africa felt it. Luckily for Ali, however, the round ended before the referee could start counting.
And then everything began to look very strange. Ali was literally stunned, there was no way to resist the next round. Then coach Angelo Dundee decided to get creative. He quickly tore off the glove from Ali's hand and damaged it. The boxer needed a new ammunition, while it was being changed, he managed to recover. It is said that four or five minutes passed between the rounds, which was enough for Ali. The newfound energy, along with ammonia, to which Dundee probably added something, allowed the boxer to continue the fight. But in England, any stimulant except water was banned for boxers. When the gong rang, Ali quickly cut his opponent's eyebrow. Due to a severe wound, the Englishman was forced to refuse to continue the battle. Nevertheless, Cooper turned out to be a decent athlete. When he found out about Dundee's trick, he said that his coach would probably have done the same.
Ali is a musician. And although Ali is known to many for his fistfights and prophetic poetry, he also had another hidden talent. In 1964, shortly before his first heavyweight championship fight with Sonny Liston, Ali released a music album. It was modestly called "I Am The Greatest" and was recorded by Columbia Records. The album includes the boxer's most famous poems. In his usual style, Ali sometimes praised himself: “This is the legend of Cassius Klee” or “I am the most beautiful fighter in the world today”, then predicted the outcome of the battle with Liston: “He cannot fight, I watched him fight the shadow. So she won in the first round. " However, Ali did more than brag on the album. Towards the end of the album, he softly sang Ben E. King's classic "Stay with Me", and then performed the song "The Whole Gang Gathered", popular in the 1960s, where he asked the cities of the world for support of himself, his beloved.
That album never really came out on sale. After the boxer changed religion and name, Columbia Records decided not to continue working with him and not develop a singing career. Ali's album was quickly removed from store shelves. But this did not stop the athlete's musical aspirations. In 1976 he released the album Ali and his gang against Mr. Caries. The boxer taught children to maintain oral hygiene with the help of ditties. To the question: “Who made the crack in the Liberty Bell” the answer was: “Ali, Ali”. But this time the project was supported by some of the champion's eminent friends. For example, Frank Sinatra sang the part of the evil ice cream man, and Howard Cosell sang "Song of the Struggle", describing Ali's crucial battle with tooth decay. And although this masterpiece is incredibly difficult to find, the boxer's performance “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 Los Angeles resident climbed up to the ninth floor of a building. The guy claimed that the Viet Cong were hunting him, and therefore intended to commit suicide. The situation looked grim - the police could not persuade him to go down, while the crowd urged the guy to jump, tired of waiting for the denouement. The tragedy could have happened if not for Muhammad Ali. The former boxer was nearby when he found out what had happened. Without the slightest hesitation, Ali hurried to the building and offered his help. The desperate police were ready to try any ways to solve the problem. But Ali was warned that the young man might have a weapon. To which the champion simply shrugged his shoulders, being ready to accept such a risk. Ali made his way as close to the guy as possible, sticking his head out of the next window. The young man was shocked to see the most famous athlete in the world appearing next to him out of nowhere. He shouted: "It really is you!" For the next half hour, Ali talked to the young man about his difficult family life and the problems of finding a job. The champion told him: “You are my brother. I love you, so I cannot deceive. " Ali convinced the guy to unlock the door 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 my life is much more important to me than winning the world championship,” Ali said later.
Muhammad Ali vs. Wrestler. There were some cult battles in the biography of Muhammad Ali. So, his legendary trilogy with Joe Fraser ended with a bloody "Thriller in Manila". In Rumble in the Jungle, Ali defeated George Foreman in the eighth round in the challenging conditions of tropical Kinshasa. And in a duel with Ken Norton, Ali beat him all 12 rounds, despite the fracture of his jaw, which happened at the very beginning of the fight. Thinking about the great boxer, these are the stories that come to mind. But the fight with Antonio Inoki makes Ali's fans shudder. It all started in 1975 when the boxer met with the president of the Japanese Amateur Wrestling Association. Ali asked if there was an Eastern fighter who would challenge him? This turned out to be Antonio Inoki. He was a pioneer in MMA, even beating two-time Olympic judo champion Wilhelm Rusk. Now the Japanese decided to add the eminent boxer to the long list of victories.
Ali accepted the challenge and the fight took place on June 26 at the Buokan Arena in Tokyo. But when the boxer arrived in Japan, the oddities began. Some argue that the outcome of the battle was a foregone conclusion, and Ali had only 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, panic arose in the team. The Americans proposed their own set of rules: Inoki could not grab a boxer, use his knees and throw his opponent to the floor. The Japanese obviously did not like this, and he decided to act out his script.
During the night fight, Inoki spent most of the fight on the floor, lying on his back and kicking Ali if he got too close. And although the duel of representatives of the two types of martial arts took place, it turned out to be not as exciting as we wanted. The most interesting moment happened when Ali tried to grab Inoki by the leg. The wrestler turned Ali over and for the next few seconds sat on the opponent's face. The rest of the time, Inoki just threw random punches, and Ali teased him. According to the results of 15 rounds, the judges announced a draw, during which time the boxer was able to deliver only six punches. But his legs were filled with blood. The disgruntled spectators shouted and demanded their money back. Both fighters became richer by several million dollars, and then even became friends.
Ali is the wizard. Muhammad Ali knew how to hypnotize not only his opponents in the ring, but also the audience. And for magic, he only needed a coin or a scarf. One of the boxer's favorite tricks was the disappearance of an object without a trace. Ali quickly moved the coin to the other side of his hand, magically restored the cut off part of the object, turned the scarf into a cane in the blink of an eye. But his most famous trick was "levitation". Ali turned his back to the audience, raised his heels and suddenly rose a few centimeters above the ground. The trick was so natural that even David Copperfield called the trick a classic. But according to Ali, people should not ask for a long time about the essence of tricks, because Islam does not allow cheating. A fake toe helps objects disappear, and levitation is provided by standing on the tips of the left toes. Ultimately, Ali's tricks were just a tool to prove how easy 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 took many hostages. He hoped that 2,000 foreigners could serve as a good human shield. Of these, by the way, about seven hundred were Americans. Negotiations for the release were rather difficult until Muhammad Ali himself intervened. 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 to Trevor Berbick. And in 1984 Ali announced to the whole world that he was suffering from Parkinson's disease. After six years, he could no longer speak quickly or move quickly. The boxer who once fluttered around the ring swallowed words, and his hands trembled. Nevertheless, he was still a fighter inside, and when he heard about the hostage situation, 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 talking with the dictator. The former athlete had difficulty speaking and was actively gesturing to explain his intentions. Through an interpreter, Ali said that he came here in peace. He said: “I did not come as a politician. I am American, but I am also a Muslim. " Ali advised Hussein to release the hostages, as this would be a good PR move. All over the world, people will see that negotiations with Iraq are possible. The very next month, Ali's longtime rival, Antonio Inoki, came here to secure the release of the Japanese hostages.
And the boxer himself stayed for several days in Iraq, visiting local shrines and meeting with the inhabitants of the country. Ali waited for Saddam to fulfill his side of the deal. During his stay there, Ali practically used up all his medicines, but refused to fly home until his compatriots were released. As a result, Hussein released 15 American prisoners of war, who owe their lives to Muhammad Ali. It is not surprising that people call him the Greatest, the reason for this is not only sporting achievements, but also a wide soul.
Superman vs. Muhammad Ali. There are real-life personalities in Superman comics, starting with Orson Welles, Jerry Lewis and John F. Kennedy. But this was never accompanied by the birth of a real epic, as happened with the duel between the Man of Steel and the Greatest. This comedian was created by Dennis O'Neill and Neil Adams with the approval of the champion's spiritual mentor, Elijah Muhammad. In 1978 this creation appeared under the title "Superman vs. Muhammad Ali".
The giant cover featured a duel between two heroes in a stadium, and celebrities such as Frank Sinatra, The Jackson Five, Kurt Vonnegut, Lucille Ball were visible in the audience. Even the cult heroes Batman and Lux Luthor were noted. But why fight such goodies at all? Naturally, to protect the Earth from alien invasion! When the evil Rat'lar, Emperor of Scrabba, announced that he would destroy our planet, there was only one way to defend it. It was necessary to win better than the enemy fighter in hand-to-hand combat face to face. And for the right to join this righteous battle, the two greatest earthly 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 fight on the planet near the red sun, hiding it from the superpowers. Ali announced that he will show Superman a real boxing. The heroes fought on an equal footing, but in the end, Ali won the victory, becoming the champion of humanity.
Meanwhile, the aliens did not even think to keep their promise and were going to invade Earth, regardless of the outcome of the duel. Then Ali worked out a secret plan with Superman. When Ali was boxing with Hun'Ya, his assistant Bandini Brown had to secretly sneak onto the alien ship. At the last moment, Bandini took off his mask and revealed that he is actually Superman. Ali at that moment actually distracted the enemies from the attack of his comrade. As a result, Superman defeated Rat'lar, and Muhammad defeated Hun'Ya in the ring. The two heroes shook hands, and Ali said: "We are the Greatest!"
However, there is one point that the comic book fan clearly disliked. At the very end of the story, the champion revealed that he had discovered the secret of Superman's identity. Allegedly, this was the only way to persuade Muhammad Ali to agree to the use of his image in the comic.