The Greatest of All Time (GOAT)

The Greatest of All Time (GOAT)

There is one athlete whose name rang true as 'the greatest of all time". Muhammad Ali was very popular on the ring that a mare photograph of him can convey the minds of boxing fans back to glorious days. Fantastic days when the three-time lineal heavyweight champion walked the Earth.

Ali was not only famous for being an amazing boxer. He was a father, husband, actor, poet, philanthropist, and most pivotal to the central theme of this article, Ali was a human rights activist. Up until his death on June 3, 2016, Ali lent his voice to the cause of the Black community.

Early life and Family

Before he changed his name, Ali was originally called Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr after his Father. He was born on January 17, 1942, and given the levels of racial segregation and persecutions he faced in his early life, it was a miracle how he grew up to be the only boxer to be called 'The Ring magazine Fighter of the Year' 6 times. Ali was also the first fighter to win the world heavyweight championship three times. No doubt, Ali had his areas of weaknesses, but it has remained a wonder to many how Ali could achieve these feats in a time that has come to be tagged' The Golden Era Of Heavyweight Boxing.'

The young boxer and civil rights in the U.S.

The 'Louisville lip,' as he was popularly called, was an extremely talented black boxer. The high-profile boxer was not only a force to contend with on the rings, but he was also a source of racial pride for African Americans during the U.S. civil rights movement. The young boxer made his debut on October 29, 1960, and forward he made numerous appearances on the ring, defeating George Logan, Doug Jones, LaMar Clark, Sonny Liston, Henry Cooper, Willi Besmanoff, and Joe Frazier.

The U.S. civil rights movement that spanned through 1954–1968 saw the contributions of men like Muhammad Ali and his mentor, Malcolm X. Given the background from which Ali rose to stardom; he needed no one to intimate him on the brutality of racial discrimination. This was why despite his popularity, he did so much to see that racial aggregation prevailed.

He was a very influential athlete and he played an important role in the civil rights movement. He was the first ever to be suspended from boxing for his stance against the war, and refusing to serve in Vietnam. This happened on the 28th of April 1967, and what he said was that “I ain't got no quarrel with those Vietcong.” It took a lot of courage for him to make such a stand, especially at such a young age. Ali was ready to give up his title and spend five years in prison because he believed so strongly in what he believed in. We can surely say that it's because he knew what it meant to be a true champion.

Ali refused to be used by the popular government; he refused to go to war in Vietnam. Ali was no coward. He was a tough guy on the ring, but because the war was an expression of white dominance, he refused to partake in it. And although this action cost him his freedom for five years, he clearly showed that oppression would cease by being brave and standing for one's conviction.

According to Ali, “My conscience won’t let me go shoot my brother, or some darker people, or some poor hungry people in the mud for big powerful America,” he had explained two years earlier. “And shoot them for what? They never called me nigger, they never lynched me, they didn’t put no dogs on me, they didn’t rob me of my nationality, rape and kill my mother and father. … Shoot them for what? How can I shoot them poor people? Just take me to jail.”

As the 1960s became more tempestuous, Ali’s popularity soared among the Black community, and soon enough, he became the catalyst that sparked the legendary civil rights movement. Ali is simply the G.O.A.T.

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Sources used: History.com, PBSLearning, NBCNews, Wikipedia, Hollywood Reporter, Brittanica