Admiration for Muhammad Ali reaches into W-S

Muhammad Ali

Admiration for Muhammad Ali reaches into W-S
June 09
05:40 2016



Although Muhammad Ali, born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr., passed away on Friday, June 3 in Scottsdale, Arizona, his legacy lives on.

“For me Ali was a true leader to the sport of boxing,” said Carlette Ewell, Winston-Salem native and female boxing champion.  “He always made it known that he was the greatest before others thought so.  He also believed in himself even if other doubted him.”

Ali’s bravado and supreme confidence in the ring had a direct influence on boxers that followed him.  He opened the door for fighters such as Pernell Whitaker, Roy Jones Jr. and of course Floyd Mayweather Jr., who all had a cocky flare to their styles.

“Ali was extremely arrogant but with his arrogance came smarts and the grit to destroy his opponent because he just did not want to lose.” Ewell said.

Quick feet, sharp reflexes, and a devastating jab were staples of Ali’s repertoire. Trainers studied it and attempted to teach their fighters the importance of these qualities.

“I learned of Ali from my father because he was a professional trainer and he had the opportunity to meet him. Some of the fighters my father trained actually sparred against Ali, so that’s how my father came to know him,” said Louis Lowery Jr. of the 14th Street Recreation Center.  Lowery’s father, Louis Lowery Sr., was a boxing trainer at 14th Street, and trained heavyweight champions such as Oliver McCall and Tim Witherspoon.

Ali was quite possibly the most recognized athlete in the world.  He may have been best known for his long-term battle against Parkinson’s disease, which inevitably contributed to his death, as well as his publicized stance against the Vietnam War.

“I was sad when I heard he passed, but I wasn’t shocked because I knew what he was dealing with,” Lowery said.  “Even without having Parkinson’s, you see many fighters who don’t make it as long as he did because you take a lot of punishment in boxing. He was still a fighter and he fought all the way until the end.”

Ewell and Lowery both said they most admired Ali because he stood up for what he believed in and did not waver even when faced with the possibility of prison and significant scrutiny from the American public.

“He was a firm believer that everyone was equal and everyone deserved to be treated as such.  He fought for that, and it’s God’s will, and he was willing to stand for that. Some are not willing to suffer the repercussions, but he did. That’s what I most appreciated about him outside of the ring,” said Lowery.

Born on Jan. 17, 1942 in Louisville, Kentucky, Cassius Clay took to boxing with ease, winning two Golden Glove titles by age 18.  At 6-foot-3-inches tall, Clay went on to win the light heavyweight gold medal in the 1960 Summer Olympics.  At age 22, he defeated the menacing Sonny Liston to win the heavyweight title, and after the fight said, “I am the greatest.”

He converted to Islam in 1964 and changed his name. He refused induction into the U.S. Armed Forces in 1967 and was stripped of his title.  He was reinstated to box in 1970, and later reclaimed the title two more times, becoming the first three-time heavyweight champion. His fight trilogy with Joe Frazier and the “Rumble in the Jungle” against George Foreman will go down in boxing history as some of the greatest battles of all time.

Following his historic career inside of the ring, Ali’s biggest impact came outside of it by inspiring people all over the world with his humanitarian efforts, charitable deeds and even lighting the cauldron during the opening ceremonies of the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.

For more coverage of Ali’s passing, click here

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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