4 June 2016

Muhammad Ali: 11 things you may not have known about The Champ

Muhammad Ali
He was one of the most influential sports figures of all time, the Heavyweight Champion of the world three times.  Muhammad Ali died in an Arizona hospital Friday. Here’s a look at 11 things you may not have known about the man called, “The Greatest of All Time.”
1. Muhammad Ali, whose given name was Cassius Clay, was named for a 19th-century farmer and abolitionist named Cassius Marcellus Clay.

2. For a time, he was known as Cassius X. The morning after defeating Sonny Liston, Ali, flanked by Malcolm X, announced he had a new name – Cassius  X. He changed his name, he said, after he become a member of the Nation of Islam. Later, Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad gave him the name Muhammad Ali.
3. He was banned from boxing for three years because he refused to serve in the U.S. military during the Vietnam War. He was the heavyweight  champion of the world in 1967 when he was arrested, then stripped of his boxing license and his title. It wasn’t until 1970, when the Supreme Court ruled on his case, that his license was reinstated.
4. Muhammad Ali starred on Broadway for a very short time.  After he was banned from boxing he needed to make money and agreed to star in a Broadway musical called “Buck White.” The job didn’t last long. Despite good reviews, the show closed after four nights and seven performances.
5. Ali’s roots go back to Ireland. His great-grandfather, Abe Grady, immigrated to the United States from Ennis, Ireland. Abe married a freed slave – Sallie Anne, said to be from Madagascar – and one of their grandchildren was Odessa Lee Grady Clay, Ali’s mother.
6. Ali was terrified of flying. On one trip, he wore a parachute for the entire flight.
7. A biography of the boxer, called “GOAT: A Tribute to Muhammad Ali," is 792 pages long. It was published in a 20-by-20 inch format and weighs 75 pounds. The book is covered in silk and Louis Vuitton leather. Ten thousand copies were published, and the first 1,000 sold for $7,500. GOAT stands for “Greatest of All Time.”
8. As a professional, he fought 61 bouts, won 56 – 37 by knockout – and lost five. He was a three-time Heavyweight Champion of the world.
9. He once talked a man out of killing himself. The man was on a ninth-floor fire escape in a Los Angeles building across the street from where Ali happened to be. He saw what was going on, ran to the building and asked police to let him talk to the man. He convinced the man not to take his life.
10. After Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait and took foreign hostages, Ali flew to the country and convinced the Iraqi dictator to release 15 Americans held captive. It was said to have taken only 50 minutes of negotiation between the two men to secure the release of the hostages.
11. Muhammad Ali was married four times and has seven daughters and two sons.