Saturday, June 4, 2016

Ali Bomaye!

Muhammad Ali faced George Foreman in the Rumble in the Jungle (1974). The Congolese audience members cheered Ali shouting - Ali Bomaye! The boxer and civil rights champion famously proclaimed himself The Greatest. The three-time World Heavyweight Champion spent a lifetime living up to that billing.

Ali was confident and colorful before the fight in 1974. He told interviewer David Frost, If you think the world was surprised when Nixon resigned, wait 'til I whup Foreman's behind!  He told the press, I've done something new for this fight. I done wrestled with an alligator, I done tussled with a whale; handcuffed lightning, thrown thunder in jail; only last week, I murdered a rock, injured a stone, hospitalized a brick; I'm so mean I make medicine sick.  Ali was wildly popular in Zaire, with crowds chanting "Ali, bomaye" ("Ali, kill him") wherever he went.

Ali burst into the national consciousness in the early 1960s, when as a young heavyweight champion he converted to Islam and refused to serve in the Vietnam War. He became an emblem of strength, eloquence, conscience and courage. He was an anti-establishment showman who transcended borders and barriers, race and religion. His fights against other men became spectacles, but he embodied much greater battles.

Born Cassius Marcellus Clay on Jan. 17, 1942 in Louisville, Kentucky, to middle-class parents, Ali started boxing when he was 12, winning Golden Gloves titles before heading to the 1960 Olympics in Rome, where he won a gold medal as a light heavyweight. He turned professional shortly afterward. His knack for talking up his own talents — often in verse. He backed up his talk with action. He relocated to Miami to work with top trainer Angelo Dundee and built a case for getting a shot at the heavyweight title.

Muhammed Ali - January 17, 1942 – June 3, 2016

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