The one and only Muhammad Ali had some amazing, celebrated and thrilling career. To say the least. And though it may be trivia and nothing much more, the pro career of the great man – a career that has been ultra-analysed by any and all over the years – saw in the month we are now in, October, so many eventful/important/significant and unforgettable moments.
Where it all began:
Ali, at pro level, this after Cassius Clay, as he was then known, had won Olympic gold down at light-heavyweight, fought in October, the 29th, his pro debut. Facing policeman/boxer Tunney Hunsaker at The Freedom Hall in Louisville, Kentucky (home town of course of Ali/Clay), the 18 year old romped to a clear six-round decision.
Where it all started all over again:
In October of 1970, with his career having been jutted to a halt for almost four (peak) years, Ali was finally allowed to box again. Having lost so many peak performances and paydays due to his utter refusal to enter the Vietnam war, and stripped of his crown and well being as a result, Ali came back to face Jerry Quarry in Atlanta, Georgia. Ali won a 3rd-round TKO. But ask yourself this: what if Ali had never been permitted to fight again after his 1967 win over Zora Folley!
The crown returns to its king:
October of 1974, and Ali, a massive underdog, strips George Foreman of his invincibility and his title. A momentous event, “The Rumble in The Jungle” sees a 32 year old Ali fight, arguably, his greatest fight. The “Rope-a-Dope” stuns all fans, and Foreman, and the circle is complete. Ali, so unjustifiably stripped of his majesty, regains the lot inside eight incredible rounds!
The toughest fight of his life:
October 1, 1975, Manila. You know the rest, “The closest thing to dyin’,” Ali said his third and deciding fight with arch-rival Joe Frazier was. And how. It was brutal, it was breathtaking, it was mesmerizing. It was “The Thrilla” and how savage a fight it really was. After coming through such hell the way he did, no-one – as in no-one – could ever doubt Ali’s greatness/toughness/heart/guts/fortitude, not EVER!
October 2, 1980.
The fight Ali never should have taken (nor should the fight have been sanctioned). At age 38, and already showing clear signs of the Parkinsons symptoms that would soon engulf his active life, Ali’s ego got the better of him this time. No way could he beat the primed and peaking Larry Holmes. Thyroid pills got Ali looking great, but on this occasion it was left to the non-glory hunting Angelo Dundee to deliver the most apt line: “light ain’t right.” Ali had nothing, he was a shell of himself. The fight should never have happened. Ali was stopped for the one and only time in his career. It should have been the end. In reality, it was.
Happy October, Ali fans. And let’s all celebrate his masterpiece: the fight that took place 45 years ago today – “The Rumble in the Jungle.”