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Mohammed Ali - the greatest - 1
On January 17th, 1942, in the city of Louisville, Kentucky, one of the most famous and highly regarded sports figures of the 20th century, also one of the greatest boxers of all times, a three-time World Heavyweight Champion was born.
Cassius Clay's family consisted of a father, Cassius Marcellus Clay Sr, an American painter and musician, a mother Odessa Grady Clay, one sister and four brothers. The young Clay attended Central High School in the city of Louisville. But unfortunately, the little boy faced some difficulties in reading and writing due to dyslexia.
At the age of twelve, and after his bicycle had been stolen, Clay was first guided towards the world of boxing by a police officer and a boxing trainer called Joe Elsby Martin. Consequently, the latter informed the angry little boy that he would better learn how to box since Clay had told him that he could have beaten that thief if he had caught him. After this incident, the young teenager found himself truly fascinated by the prospect of fighting, especially after he watched a boxing TV show called “Tomorrow's Champions”.
Shortly afterwards, he started his boxing career as an amateur boxer. Clay was first trained by Fred Stoner, then by Chuck Bodak for almost four years. Clay first appeared as a young amateur boxer in 1954 after he outstandingly defeated a local boxer named Ronnie O'Keefe. During his early career, the young boxer had splendidly managed to defeat several well-known boxers with a record of one hundred wins including six Kentucky Golden Gloves titles, an Amateur Athletic Union national title and two national Golden Gloves titles. A few years later, the American champion participated in the 1960 Summer Olympics that was held from August 25th to September 11th, 1960, in Rome, Italy. Despite being only eighteen years old, Clay triumphantly won the Light Heavyweight gold medal against a three-time European champion, the Polish boxer Zbigniew Pietrzykowski.
Later that year, Clay turned professional.His highly, unique boxing style and skills which were mainly based on his quick foot movements and his ability to easily avoid punches, ultimately had some positive effects on his future professional career. So, on October 29th, 1960, Clay won his first professional fight against Tunney Hunsaker. During the period from 1960 to 1963, the young champion successfully managed to defeat many skillful boxers such as Lamar Clark, Doug Jones, Henry Cooper and above all, the legendary boxer Archie Moore who, as a matter of fact, used to be one of his former trainers.
On February 25th, 1964, a remarkable fight between Clay and the World Heavyweight Champion Sonny Liston took place in Miami, Florida. In spite of being one of the finest and strongest fighters, however, Clay was not expected to defeat the champion. Before the fight, Clay proudly announced that he would “float like a butterfly and sting like a bee”. Surprisingly, at the beginning of the seventh round, Liston, who in fact was suffering from serious injuries and a lot of bruises under his eyes, announced that he could not continue the fight. As a consequence, Clay was declared victor and he won the match by technical knockout.
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