My hero is Muhammad Ali, who first came into the public eye as Cassius Clay when he won a gold medal at the Olympic Games in Rome in 1960. In 1964 he stunned the boxing community with his defeat of Sonny Liston, the heavyweight champion, and shocked the world yet again when he changed his name to Muhammad Ali after the fight. During the Vietnam war, he was ordered to go and fight, but he refused on religious grounds, but his decision was not met with ease; he was branded a draft-dodger and threatened with prison. He was stripped of his title and was effectively banned from boxing.
Despite this, he never gave in to the American Government and stuck to his principles. During the years of exile from boxing, he spent time studying his religion and public speaking. It was evident that he was sincere in his beliefs. He started to reclaim the respect of the American public, especially as the horrors of what was happening in Vietnam began to be shared more widely. When he was 28, and after 3 years of the band from the sport he loved, he resumed his boxing career. He eventually regained his title and fought in some of the most breathtaking fights the world has ever seen. During his career, his influence on the world of boxing changed the sport forever. He took the world heavyweight championship away from its traditional New York City venue. He took it to Canada, Britain, Germany, Zaire, Malaysia and Manila, and the United States.
He used his position to speak out against inequality and always helped people less fortunate than himself. He is still an ambassador of his religion and continues to try to give people hope. After he came back from suspension, he started with a mission to reclaim his title; he was granted a title shot against Joe Frasier in 1971; he underestimated Joe’s ability, however, and lost the fight, it would now be even harder to become champion again. The world said that he was too old and past his peak when he was beaten again by Ken Norton in 1972. George Foreman beat Joe Frasier, so Ali knew that if he were once again to become the Greatest, he would have to beat Ken Norton, which he did and then he made an amazing comeback against Joe Frasier in the rematch in 1974. Ali had earned his title shot; the stage was set for Zaire (the Rumble in the Jungle) Ali vs Foreman.
Muhammad Ali was ancient, and although he had made amazing comebacks against Frasier and Norton, neither of these was the fighter that George Foreman was; even Ali’s own trainer asked Foreman to take it easy on Ali because he was an `old man`. But yet again, Muhammad Ali proved the world wrong by knocking out George Foreman in 8 rounds to retain his title. He reigned as champion for 4 years until Leon Spinks beat him, now Leon was thought to be the greatest, and the world expected him to become the next Muhammad Ali; he repeatedly taunted Ali until the rematch when Ali taught him; what it meant to be the greatest! He was the first man to win the title 3 times. His flamboyant style has made him a legend, and his slogans `I am the greatest` and `float like a butterfly, sting like a bee` became catchphrases.
Ali’s lifestyle was plagued with divorces and failed relationships, but he stayed loyal to his religion and fans. Ali was President Carter’s special envoy to Africa in 1980 (attempting to persuade nations to boycott the Olympics). Muhammad Ali has lots of personal qualities and values. He spoke for civil rights against discrimination against black people in America on numerous occasions and refused to go to Vietnam for 2 reasons: he remained loyal to Islam and refused to murder innocent people. This shows dignity and independence because he wouldn`t get drafted into the army when he didn’t want to. I admire Ali’s determination and strength of character in this act. Even when he was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment and had his boxing license revoked, he would not submit to the American Government. Ali has got to be the most entertaining sportsman ever; his humour, charisma and skill in the ring earned him the sportsperson of the century award.
I admired his boxing skills when I first learnt about Muhammad Ali, but as I progressed in learning about his life, I was amazed to find out how much money he donated towards charity; he held many fundraisers for privileged children on the streets of America and Africa. Ali was very endurant because he has always been the only boxer to dance around the ring for a whole 15 rounds during a fight. He was always confident in his ability’s and always optimistic. Ali has great ambition; ever since he started boxing, he said he would be the greatest and went in the right direction because he is widely known as the greatest boxer ever. Ali has the courage to stand up and fight for what he believed in because he became a Muslim whilst getting alot of criticism from Muslims themselves. He changed his name to Muhammad Ali to suit his religion even when his family disapproved of it. Now, Muhammad Ali has Parkinson’s disease, which attacks the nervous system; there is no cure for this disease, and Ali has suffered immensely due to it. Despite this, he still finds the energy to fund the Black Muslim campaign and other charities.
Muhammad Ali has certainly influenced my life for the better because he has taught me to never give up on my dreams. Muhammad Ali is a perfect example of that if you work hard enough and never give up, you can achieve just about anything, just as he did. The world might never have known Muhammad Ali if his bike hadn’t been stolen when he was 12. He set out to be the greatest ever and worked extremely hard but never gave up; even when he was deemed too old to fight again, he beat George Foreman, against all odds, in Zaire. In conclusion, Muhammad Ali is my hero because he has proved the world wrong again by defeating other boxers against all odds (and still leave room for his witty humour). I will remember Muhammad Ali as someone who always stood up for his beliefs and was indeed the greatest.