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Sports Then and Now



Muhammad Ali – The Most Influential Sportsmen Ever 27

Posted on September 13, 2011 by Rod Crowley

With sport of all kinds having made the transition from amateur to professional status, it is always worth remembering that one unique sportsmen who added unforgettable memories, great depth of character and unadulterated self belief, over a professional boxing career that spanned 21 years . His name of course is Muhammad Ali.

Without any doubt whatsoever, Muhammad Ali became the most famous sportsmen of all time. He was the first man to win the World Heavyweight Boxing champion three times, with two of those titles coming after he was stripped of his boxing license in his prime for 3½ years for refusing to fight in Vietnam.

His antics before and after fights were often a joy to behold, his self promotions, his poetry, his philosophy and his humour were aspects never associated with sportsmen of any kind until he arrived on the scene.

Add these aspects to a boxing style that was graceful, very fast in his early days, intelligent in his later days and ruthless on any given day, Ali established himself quickly as a major box office hero and quite simply was never out of the news. In his absolute heyday, he was unquestionably the most famous man in the world, even more famous than John Lennon, the man who claimed that the Beatles were more famous than Jesus.

Ali was known on all five major continents, fighting in four of them, two of which the ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ in Zaire against the unbeaten knock out specialist George Foreman in 1974 and the final bout in the Ali/Joe Frazier trilogy, known as the ‘Thriller in Manila’ in 1976 both broke world television viewing records. Ali of course won both of those fights with stoppages which gave him hero status throughout Africa and the Far East and also confirmed him in the eyes of many as the greatest heavyweight boxer of all time. Read the rest of this entry →

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