What Made Muhammad Ali Great?

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Muhammad Ali was – without a doubt – one of the greatest boxers of all time and the first fighter to win the world heavyweight championship on three different occasions. In addition to this, he was known for his social message of black pride, black resistance to white domination and for refusing conscription into the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War.

Here are a couple of reasons why he was great.

A Fighting Champion

As opposed to so many elite-level boxers of today, Muhammad Ali wanted to cement himself as a truly great boxer. He knew to do so meant remaining active. To put his activity level into perspective, think about that – in the span of five years: 1970 to ’75 – he answered the bell 22 times, in the process giving sports fans his trilogy with Joe Frazier, two tough battles with Ken Norton, his unforgettable knockout over George Foreman as well as wins over a host of elite-level contenders including Jerry Quarry, Oscar Bonavena, Jimmy Ellis, George Chuvalo and Ron Lyle. Meanwhile, from 2010 to 2015, Wladimir Klitschko competed twelve times; Floyd Mayweather just nine.

Mental Strength

Ali also showed major psychological strengths. He was renowned for his self-belief, which often extended beyond vocal pre-contest expressions of confidence to essentially nominating the very round in which he would win.

He was prone to composing rap-style poems that were designed to extol his talents as well as unsettle opponents. Ali was well-known for his intimidatory stares and for subjecting opponents to verbal taunts during bouts of a match.

Over time, Ali’s perennial competitive success seemed – more and more – to justify the self-belief and enabled him to instil an impression that he was nearly superhuman. That was an idea that a public seeking new heroes in tumultuous social and political times was very willing to accept. In addition, it appears to have been adopted by Ali himself.

The self-belief and illusion of superhuman qualities were possibly instrumental in enabling Ali to get through a number of torturous contests. These included the “Thrilla in Manila”, where he and Joe Frazier inflicted shocking damage on each other in what he later described as a near-death experience as well as the “Rumble in the Jungle”.

The Ambassador

Ali boxed on four continents during his career, all of which you can now access a Canada casino online from. He started his international travels with fights in Europe and then visited Asia and Africa later in his career. He never lost a fight away from US soil until his last match in the Bahamas in 1981.

His appearances in locations such as southeast Asia assisted with spurring worldwide growth of the sport. However, Ali paid dearly for one international outing. He sustained injuries following a 1976 exhibition against Antonio Inoki in Japan. Inoki was a wrestler and a martial artist, and he remained out of reach for the whole bout. His low kicks and lunges inflicted serious damage to Ali’s legs, which led to blood clots. Ali lost a portion of his mobility in the ring and never recovered it.