Muhammad Ali earned his power through his ability as a boxer. He gained the respect of his peers, fans and the media. The words he said were heard by almost everyone all over the world and had great influence over many people. Through his boxing he was able to grow in social stature and the things he said and did were able to change people’s ideas about certain issues, more specifically the Vietnam War.
Muhammad Ali, who was born as Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jnr, was born on the 17th of January 1942, was a professional boxer. Ali was born in Louisville, Kentucky and was the younger of two boys. Ali began boxing at 12 years old after having his bike stolen and wanted to ‘Whump’ the boy who had stolen it. After an amateur career which included six Kentucky Golden Gloves and a Gold Medal at the 1960 Olympics Ali began his professional career. In a professional career that spanned 21 years Ali had a record of 56 wins, 37 by knockout, and only 5 losses.
Muhammad Ali didn’t have then conventional power that most leaders have but he had the ability to influence people decisions and ideas about topics. Ali had gotten his power through his skill at boxing, when he became world champ people he had earned the respect of the boxing community. His loud mouth nature meant that he attracted a lot of media attention, which then got his notoriety up and people from all corners of the world had heard of the man who called himself ‘The Greatest’. Ali had power over all of his fans and the media who both hung off his every word, with a microphone in his face most of the time not much of what he said went unheard. Also after converting to the nation of Islam Ali had gained the respect and power of the Islamic community, in joining Islam he had also gained some friends in high places like Malcolm X and Elijah Muhammad.
Ali was at the height of his fame around the time of the Vietnam War, with American men being drafted into the army to fight in Vietnam Ali was expected to go to war like everyone else. But he had a different view on the idea, declining his drafting and facing the $10,000 fine and 5 years in prison penalty.
“I ain’t got no quarrel with the Vietcong. No Vietcong ever called me Nigger.”
As a consequence of his power and fame this decision rocked not only the boxing community but the whole world. Although he didn’t actually spend any time behind bars he did have to spend 3 years out of the ring as a consequence of his beliefs and actions.
As soon as he had done his penalty Ali was straight back in the ring, when he fought George Foreman in the ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ one of the biggest fights in boxing history. In this fight Ali regained his World Champion title once again.
Every decision that Ali made had some kind of good intention behind it, he wasn’t corrupted by his power didn’t turn into some kind of power hungry animal. Overall, I believe that Muhammad Ali falls into the good category, he stood up for the right things and promoted the acceptance all races kind of living. As well as being one of the best boxers of all time he was also one of the most influential people ever.
– by Tom Grayson, 10ENG