The Incomparable Muhammad Ali
Muhammad Ali takes out the ‘Bear’ Sonny Liston
Charismatic, outspoken and nicknamed "The Greatest," heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali was the dominant heavyweight fighter of the 1960s and 1970s. A fighter of exceptional speed, cunning and flair, Muhammad Ali won the world heavyweight title on three separate occasions over a span of fifteen years. He was born Cassius Clay, and under that name he won a gold medal at the 1960 Olympics in Rome, Italy. After claiming his first title victory by defeating Sonny Liston in 1964, Clay joined the Black Nation of Islam, and changed his name to Muhammad Ali. Adhering to his Islamic faith, Muhammad Ali refused to serve in the U.S. military during the war in Vietnam; his world title was revoked and he was sentenced to (5) years in prison for draft evasion. The U.S. Supreme Court reversed the conviction in 1971.
He had a long-running rivalry with former world heavyweight champion Joe Frazier, whom he fought three times. Muhammad Ali lost the first match in 1971, but won rematches in 1974 & 1975. Ali also defeated George Foreman in the famous 1974 "Rumble in the Jungle" held in Kinshasa, Zaire, Africa. Muhammad Ali retired from boxing in 1981, but since retiring he has remained one of the world's most famous athletes & ambassadors of peace.
In his retirement! Muhammad Ali has suffered from “Parkinson's Disease”, a motor-skills illness which has slowed his movements, and left him mostly unable to speak in public. In 1996 he was selected to light the ceremonial flame at the Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia, bringing him again into the public eye. Additionally, Muhammad Ali was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990... He won his three titles by defeating Sonny Liston in (1964), George Foreman in (1974) and Leon Spinks in (1978). Muhammad Ali's managers sometimes referred to him as (GOAT) or the;
“Greatest of All Times”
‘Muhammad Ali’s influence upon Bruce Lee’
It is a well known established fact that Muhammad Ali had a tremendous amount of influence upon the legendary Bruce Lee’s combative fighting style known as “Jeet Kune Do”. In the book titled: “The Making of ENTER THE DRAGON” on page 148; Bruce Lee makes reference to Muhammad Ali. The following is an excerpt taken from the book.
Another time Yeung, aka (Bolo) went to see Bruce at Golden Harvest Studios. Bruce was screening a Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali) documentary. Ali was world heavyweight champion at the time and Bruce saw him as the greatest fighter of them all. The documentary showed Ali in several of his fights. Bruce set up a wide full-length mirror to reflect Ali’s image from the screen. Bruce was looking into the mirror, moving along with Ali. Bruce’s right hand followed Ali’s right hand, Ali’s left foot followed Bruce’s left foot. Bruce was fighting in Ali’s shoes.” Everybody says I must fight Ali some day” Bruce said “I’m studying every move he makes. I’m getting to know how he thinks and moves.” Bruce knew he could never win a fight against Ali “Look at my hand” he said “that’s a little Chinese hand. He’d kill me.”
These particular photos reflect the similarities between Bruce Lee & Muhammad Ali’s fighting styles.
When we reflect upon the Bruce Lee action packed films such as “CHINESE CONNECTION” “FIST OF FURY” “ENTER THE DRAGON” “WAY OF THE DRAGON” & “GAME OF DEATH” it becomes very apparent that Bruce Lee adopted Muhammad Ali’s fighting concept of “Float like a butterfly & sting like a bee, your hands can’t hit what your eyes can’t see”… into his fight scenes.
In the film “WAY OF THE DRAGON” Bruce Lee finds out very quickly that he is having a very hard time defeating mega Karate “Super Star” Chuck Norris because he is attempting to combat him in a classical manner… After receiving a few hard knocks from Chuck Norris, Bruce Lee finally switches up his classical style of fighting into a non-classical style of fighting & very swiftly defeats Chuck Norris with a barrage multiple punches, kicks & fancy Muhammad Ali footwork.
Although Bruce Lee has been highly credited & acknowledged for formulating an eclectic method of combat known formally as “Jeet Kune Do”, Muhammad Ali stands out alone as the primary essential source & model that Bruce Lee proudly based much his fighting theories & strategies upon. In conclusion of this first part series on the man who has been formally acclaimed as the “Greatest fighter of all times” it must be mentioned that all of the famous personalities that have gone on to become “Great” in their own rights, have all had “Great” mentors & archetypes along the way. Bruce Lee is no exception to the rule. If Bruce Lee were alive today, surely he would continue to give “Great” credit to Muhammad Ali for inspiring him in his up rise into fame, stardom & fortune.
“Thank You Muhammad Ali for inspiring us all in the pursuit for Excellence in all that we do”
Greatest Regards Grandmaster “D”/President
WORLD SERRADA ESCRIMA FEDERATION