Muhammad Ali: Rights Are for Everyone
WW 7/8 D
You may know him as a heavyweight boxing legend, but there was more to Muhammad Ali then just muscle and brute strength. Muhammad Ali is a role model change maker because he has been a world boxing champion, as well as a Muslim activist who helped muslims feel recognized and proud.
Born as Cassius Clay on January 17th, 1942, Ali grew up in Louisville, Kentucky. Ali was born to Cassius Marcellus Clay Sr. and Odessa O’Grady. He first learned how to fight when he was 9 years old. One day, Ali was biking home from school, when a thief stole his bike. He immediately told a police officer about the situation, and Ali said that he wanted to fight the criminal and steal his bike back. Officer Joe told him he would need to learn how to box first, as it would help him fight the thief later on. Joe wasn’t just an officer, he was also a part time boxing trainer for youth who ran his own martial arts and boxing center. Joe started teaching Ali to spar, and not before long, Ali started his boxing career. His first battle was in a Youth Amateur Boxing League in 1954. Ali won the fight by a close split decision. Ali then moved up through the leagues and battles until he got to the 1956 Golden Gloves Tournament for novices in a light heavyweight class.
In 1959, Ali won the National Golden Gloves Tournament of Champions and the Amateur Athletic Union national title for the light heavyweight division. One year later, Ali got on the U.S Olympic Boxing Team, where he traveled to Rome, Italy to fight. At a height of 6’ 3”, Ali was known to be a slow, powerful giant, but he was one of the fastest boxers in the arena. After Ali’s first three victories, he defeated Zbigniew Pietrzkowski from Warsaw, Poland. After winning the match, Ali claimed his first official Olympic gold medal. After the victory, Ali was announced as America's hero. Shortly after, Ali turned professional with a sponsor being the Louisville Sponsoring Group. He continually defeated opponents in the ring, claiming medals constantly.
He became known for moving swiftly later on in his life. One of his most famous fighting and inspirational quotes is, “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.”
Ali joined the black Muslim group of the Nation of Islam in 1964. Ali changed his name to Cassius X, (not to be confused with Malcolm X) and changed it once more later on to Muhammad Ali. Ali stayed a faithful, practicing Muslim for the rest of his life. Ali explained his name change in an interview, as quoted by Ali. "Cassius Clay is a slave name. I didn't choose it, and I didn't want it. I am Muhammad Ali, a free name – it means beloved of God – and I insist people use it when speaking to me and of me."
Ali seemed to like all types of fights, being argumentative or physically. Ali was selected for the military for the Vietnam War in 1967. He refused to go and said that as a well meaning, practicing Muslim, his religion would not allow him to fight in a war, where he could potentially kill somebody. Ali was arrested, and his boxing license was taken away.This was a big part of Ali’s life. Rejecting being sent to the Vietnam War, he was standing up for black people and Muslims too. After Ali died, this became an even more important event then any other boxing feat or achievement.Ali was found violating Selective Service laws, so he was sentenced to five years of prison in June, 1967. Ali was more than willing to take the punishment. In fact, he was happy about it. In response, he said, “So what? Black people and Muslims have been in jail for 400 years.” This was also a big move from Ali, as it made lots of change in his career.
When he came out of prison, people liked him even more because he stood up for Muslims and black people, and represented everyone very well. He became world renowned for standing up for black people and Muslims, and he became one of the most famous Muslim and black activists in the world. Over the course of his life, Muhammad Ali has been an amazing change maker and activist that really inspired people to be proud of their skin color and their looks. It made people feel proud, and people started standing up for themselves and others.
Unfortunately he died June 3rd 2016. Ali was a big time champion, winning awards such as a the World Heavyweight Title 3 times in 1970. Also winning a gold medal in the 1960 Summer Olympics, Ali became a world renowned boxing champion, although Ali helped resolve multiple racial profiling issues, racial profiling and racism still exists today. Here is a statement of Ali’s that helped Muslims feel confident, proud, and recognized by other people: “We as Muslims have to stand up to those who use Islam to advance their own personal agenda. They have alienated many people from learning about Islam. True Muslims know or should know that it goes against our religion to try and force Islam on anybody.”
Sims, Alexandra. “Muhammad Ali: Why Did the Boxing Legend Change His Name from Cassius Clay?” The Independent, Independent Digital News and Media, 4 June 2016, 8:10 BST, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/muhammad-ali-death-cassius-clay-why-did-he-change-his-name-nation-of-islam-a7065256.html.