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Muhammad Ali (Grade 8)

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Muhammad Ali

Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr., better known as the great boxer Muhammad Ali, was born in Louisville, Kentucky on January 17, 1942. When he was twelve, Clay conveniently told a police officer, who also happened to be a boxing coach, that he was going to beat up the kid who stole his bike. The police officer, Joe Martin, told him to come learn how to fight first. The two then started training together.

As an amateur fighter, Clay piled up a record of 100-5. In 1960, he took part in the Olympics, where he won the gold medal. It wasn’t until then he decided to go pro. Rather than power, Clay focused on quickness. He once stated, “I’m so fast that last night I turned off the light switch and was in bed before the room was dark.”

Clay was a famous trash-talker using the slogan, “Float Like a butterfly, sting like a bee. I am the greatest, Muhammad Ali.” Even though he was arrogant, Clay could back it up in the ring. In 1964, he got his shot at Sonny Liston, a champion fighter. Clay won the fight and a national title.

In 1964, Clay converted to Islam, changing his name to Muhammad Ali. Starting in 1967, Ali was not allowed to fight, and was stripped of his title for three years because he refused to join the Army after being drafted.

In 1970, Ali came back to participate some iconic fights, including “The Fight of the Century” between himself and the then 26-0 Joe Frazier. Frazier won a split decision giving Ali his first professional loss. He came back during “The Rumble in the Jungle” against George Foreman where he knocked Foreman out in the 8th round.

To reclaim his heavyweight title, Ali competed in “The Thrilla in Manila." Once again, he fought Joe Frazier where he won by TKO in the 14th round. Ali ended his career with a record of 56-5 (37 K.O.s). Ali retired from boxing in 1981 and since then has fought a long battle with Parkinson’s disease. In 2005, he won the Presidential Medal of Freedom from then president George W. Bush. He was also voted the Number One Heavyweight of the 20th Century by the Associated Press.

Ali said it best himself, “I am the greatest, I said that even before I knew I was”.
Why does the author share Cassius Clay's encounter with a police officer when he was 12?
  1. To describe where he grew up
  2. To show that he was a violent child
  3. To explain how he got his start as a boxer
  4. To share why he appreciates police officers
What does the word AMATEUR mean in the beginning of paragraph two?
  1. someone who competes without getting paid
  2. someone who loves participating in a sport
  3. someone who is not very skilled in a sport
  4. someone who competes as a child
Which word best describes Cassius Clay?
  1. arrogant
  2. astute
  3. honest
  4. humble
The author includes information about Cassius Clay's conversion to Islam to explain why he:
  1. changed his name
  2. stopped fighting
  3. turned pro
  4. won a lot
Which statement BEST describes the author's view of Muhammad Ali?
  1. He was the greatest boxer of all time.
  2. He was the most over-rated boxer in history.
  3. He was an incredibly self-centered and arrogant person.
  4. He was an average boxer who had a few great wins when he went pro.

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