The 3rd of June 2019 marks the 3rd death anniversary of one of the greatest boxing champions ever – Muhammad Ali. Let us recall some of the best fights of this impeccable human to remember the sheer warrior in him.
Cassius Clay (aka Muhammad Ali), died at 74 but left behind an indomitable legacy. His legacy is here to stay and made him arguably the greatest boxer who ever lived.
One of his greatest achievements was defeating Zbigniew Pietrzykowski to win the gold medal in 1960 at the Summer Olympics. Muhammad Ali has the greatest record of winning 56 of out of 61 matches and 37 out of those were complete knockouts.
Ali started his journey by winning all six rounds against his opponent Tunney Hunsaker who was 30 years old (back then) at the Freedom Hall in Kentucky. This marked the beginning milestone for this maestro.
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5 famous fights by Muhammad Ali
Check out some of the best fights won by Muhammad Ali and his journey to becoming a boxing legend:
Feb 25, 1964 – Cassius Clay vs Sonny Liston
Muhammad Ali’s most important and perhaps biggest fight was against Sonny Liston. Liston had become the heavyweight champion, by knocking Floyd Patterson in 1962. It was expected that Liston would win over Ali. He had the popularity and was a favorite among all. Almost 43 out of 46 sports journalists had predicted Liston’s victory, but it turned out to be Ali’s game instead.
On February 25, 1964, when Ali was 22 years old, he defeated the best boxer (at that time) and champion Sonny Liston. It was a technical knockout that would determine the world heavyweight boxing crown. It was a crucial match witness by Miami Beach. This match made Cassius Clay become Muhammad Ali and he later went onto becoming the first boxer to win three heavyweight titles.
Liston was a fighter to be reckoned with and Ali was a decade junior underdog. Clay was brash, mouthy and provoked a reserved Liston. He had by then only won a gold medal in the lightweight category in the Olympics.
While training Clay appeared juvenile, as he taunted, jibed and boasted, that he would knock Liston out. But that actually did match his performance and he came out as a champion, using, pace and footwork.
He was faster than Liston and moved swiftly and made Liston give up by the sixth round. Liston was by then showered with cuts and bruises under his eyes and had a shoulder injury. The warrior them knocked Liston out and screamed, “I am the greatest”.
Oct 30, 1974 – Cassius Clay vs George Foreman
In 1968 Olympics, Foreman had won a gold medal in heavyweight. He ascended the list of heavyweight fighters and reached a level to challenge Ali, who was at that time reigning No. 1. This event was also a significant one, as Don King, the infamous boxing promoter had promised to give $5 million to each of the fighters. This fight made the then 32-year-old Muhammad Ali, the second time champion, after being stripped of the title for refusing to enter the U.S. Army.
He knocked out Foreman, then 25, in the eighth round of the “Rumble in the Jungle”. This victory marked him as the only second dethroned champion, who had been able to reclaim his belt.
It was an epic moment under the moonlight when more than 50,000 spectators had come to see them fight. The energy was electrifying when they chanted “Ali, bomaye” (“Ali, kill him”). Ali had been taunting and jibing Foreman for weeks.
Foreman was also ready to take on Ali and started pounding Ali from the go with his signature sledgehammer blows. Ali was, of course, much experienced and ready for him. He backed towards the rope and blocked his blows with his arm. He was waiting to tire Foreman out by using his famous “rope-a-dope” strategy.
May 25, 1965 – Cassius Clay vs Sonny Liston
After Liston’s loss in 1964, the contenders met again in Lewiston, Maine. This was Liston’s chance to redeem himself. The match was nothing less than controversy and produced Liston’s most iconic sports photograph ever.
The game was pretty much over in the first round when Muhammad Ali knocked Liston out with his lightning-fast punch. But referee Jersey Joe Walcott was unable to get Ali to a neutral corner. Some of the onlookers were not even convinced whether Ali had punched Liston at all, leading to a discrepancy of whether Liston was to be held out or not.
Nov 15, 1962 – Cassius Clay vs Archie Moore
Muhammad Ali was a legend for a reason, he was a champion, but an arrogant one. He fought Moore at Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena on November 15th, 1962. He played his game and predicted his moves – he used to predict and strategize when and how he would dispose of his opponents.
Ali told his fans before the match not to block the aisle and doors, as the match would be over by round four. As predicted, he knocked Archie Moore out thrice in round four. He created his winning rhyme, “Archie Moore…Must fall in four”. Moore had aced a new punch “The Lip-Buttoner”, but that didn’t help him as he lost the match in the fourth round.
June 18, 1963 – Cassius Clay vs Henry Cooper
One more incident, when Ali’s prophecy was proven right, is when he fought with Henry Cooper. He had predicted, “It ain’t no jive, Henry Cooper will go in five!”. This was no easy match and had its share of controversy.
Cooper blew Ali with his signature move “Henry’s Hammer” and it knocked Clay down. Ali’s trainer Angelo Dundee was quick to react and informed the referee that Ali’s glove was torn. Ali got a breather to recover and came back with vigor, he punched Cooper aggressively. His quick punches wore Cooper down, within two minutes, and Ali was declared the winner.
Why Muhammad Ali is the greatest boxer of all times?
It wasn’t about the strength and power of sports when it came to Muhammad Ali. He wasn’t the toughest punchers and he didn’t have great height or weight. What made Ali topnotch was his speed and agility. His footwork was second to none and his athletic spirit was indomitable. He was heavy-weighted, but his moves didn’t have a negative impact on that. He has a record of 2,076 points, which is still 228 points higher than the second-best boxer – Evander Holyfield.