There is no small list of great athletes, but when you think of the greatest athlete of all time you have to look outside of the sport to choose the winner. Muhammad Ali is the winner! I must start by saying I’m not a fan of boxing and I’m not of the Muslim faith, however I’m open minded and enlightened enough to see outside of my own principles and values; there is therefore no doubt that Muhammad Ali deserves this high honor. As a bit of history: He was born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. in 1942.He was named after his father who was named after an abolitionist. However Cassius changed his name to Muhammad Ali when he joined the nation of Islam. He now practices Sunni Islam.
Muhammad Ali began boxing around the tender age of 12. He trained diligently and enjoyed the sport as what was seen as a positive alternative to street fights. Clay’s amateur record was only 5 losses with 100 wins. As a woman who opposes violence in any form, you would find it hard pressed to find me watching a boxing match; however the wonderful audacity of Muhammad Ali to successfully predict the round in which he would knock out his opponent, drew even myself to the screen to watch some of his historic matches. This in and of itself is a testament to his garnering the title of the greatest athlete of all time. He literally drew people to the sport who would NEVER watch prior to him entering the field. Politicians, Celebrities, you name it, would be seen at his famous bouts. He won the Light Heavyweight Olympic gold medal in 1960. Ali has won the World Heavyweight Championship three-times. He was loved by people of all races and nationalities, being revered in countries around the world. Although I truly love and respect George Foreman’s mild manner and calm nature against the braggadocio that was Ali and always will; I can’t deny that Muhammad Ali basically rallied the masses against Foreman during their historic battle in Zaire, Africa. Ali was truly seen as a fighter for people of African descent around the world and this can not be denied. And this “fighter for the people” designation was given to him by Black people more so than any other athlete. That being said I don’t feel that the racist attitude of the time is what made this so, keep reading.
When a man is tested you truly find out what he’s made of and the fiber of Muhammad Ali’s being is strength. Unlike any other athlete around he has demonstrated this strength in and most importantly out of the ring. I don’t impress easily at all. I’ve never been a follower myself and when I see a man truly be a man and stand up strong in the face of unimaginable opposition, I take notice. Mohammad Ali is most well known to me for not going to Vietnam or killing another human being for a country that at the time were still killing people of his race, simply for being Black! Would Mohammed shrink back and try to duck the issues? NO! HIS GREATEST FIGHT WAS IN THE COURTROOM! Mohammed reminds me of the men I know who would not be afraid to go to jail and/or die for their religious principles including my father whom I respect greatly. This fact alone sets Ali apart from other athletes around the world. Because Mohammad Ali refused to enter the Army it seemed that everything and everyone was suddenly against him. He stood firm and because of his stand was arrested and stripped of his World title. In 1971 Ali’s case went to the Supreme Court where he won his appeal and his conviction was reversed.
Mohammad loved women and as a woman I must say it’s commendable that he married the women he was in love with and tried to be true to those women. How do we know? The women themselves tell us. Most of his former wives have respect for the others and his current wife. Can you say that of any other athlete? NO! Ask the wives of current athletes about their faithfulness and commitment and you’ll have disgusting reality show after disgusting reality show. Most of their morals are something that would rival the lowest gutters. However Mohammed Ali’s children also tell of how he truly tried to be the best father he could. These reasons were not overlooked in my choice of Mohammed Ali for the greatest athlete of all time. He loves the African American community and sees, saw and espoused the great Beauty in his race and his culture. For this alone he’s respected by men of all races. Too many black male athletes don’t have that love of self and will never be respected by the majority of Black people.
Last but certainly not least does it help that the Worlds Greatest Athlete: Mohammad Ali is incredibly handsome, in a word: YES!