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The student news site of Tracy High School

Scholar & Athlete

The student news site of Tracy High School

Scholar & Athlete

The student news site of Tracy High School

Scholar & Athlete

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BHM: Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali was born Cassius Clay on January 17, 1942, in Louisville, Kentucky. Growing up in a middle-class family with his parents, Cassius and Odessa, and his younger brother, Rudolph, Ali faced the harsh realities of racism and segregation in the South. However, his early life was also marked by a discovery that would change his life forever: boxing.

At 12 years old, Ali began training at the Columbia Gym in Louisville, where his mentor, Joe Martin, saw potential in the young boy. Ali quickly fell in love with the sport and his natural talent and dedication led him to win several amateur titles, including a gold medal at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome.

After his Olympic victory, Ali turned professional and began his meteoric rise in the boxing world. He won his first world championship in 1964, defeating Sonny Liston in a stunning upset that made him the youngest heavyweight champion of the world at the time, aged 22. Ali’s boxing career was marked by his quick wit, charisma and powerful punches. He was known for his boastful phrases such as, “I am the greatest” and “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” He dominated the sport, winning 56 out of 61 fights with 37 knockouts.

“History says he’s the greatest, I believe his famous saying is describing how great he was at dodging punches like a butterfly and hitting hard, stinging like a bee,” Joshua Giuliacci, sports editor, said.

Ali’s impact extended far beyond the boxing ring. He was a vocal critic of racism and inequality, his refusal to serve in the Vietnam War in 1967 sparked a national debate. He was stripped of his heavyweight title and faced a five-year prison sentence, but his conviction was later overturned on appeal.

“I can understand why he refused to serve the war, the time then was very horrific if there was a war to opt out of it would the Vietnam war,” Marnie Bradford, senior government teacher at Tracy High School, explained.

Throughout his life, Ali received numerous awards and accolades for his contributions to not only sports but also society. He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990 and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005.

Ali’s personal life was just as eventful. He converted to Islam in 1964 and changed his name from Cassius Clay to Muhammad Ali. He was married four times with seven children. Ali’s life story is truly inspiring, as he stood up for what he believed in, even when it was unpopular. His impact on the world extends far beyond the boxing ring and his legacy continues to inspire generations.

However, Ali’s life was not without its challenges. He faced discrimination and prejudice throughout his career and his outspoken views on race and politics made him a target of criticism and backlash. He never wavered in his beliefs and his unwavering commitment to his principles is a testament to his strength and character.

“Ali’s courage to stand up for his beliefs, even when it was unpopular, inspires me to speak my truth and fight for what’s right,” Alexander Gray, travel editor at THS, said.

In addition to his achievements in the ring and his impact on society, Ali was also a devoted husband and father. He was married four times, to Sonji Roi, Belinda Boyd, Veronica Porsche and Lonnie Williams.. Despite his busy career and public life, Ali always put his family first. His love and dedication to them are a testament to his character. Ali’s later years were marked by his battle with Parkinson’s disease, which he was diagnosed with in 1984.

Despite his illness, he remained active and engaged, his spirit and resilience inspired countless people around the world. His life was a testament to his courage, and unwavering belief in himself and his principles. He will always be remembered as a champion boxer, social activist, and global icon.

Ali passed away on June 3, 2016, at the age of 74 in Phoenix, Arizona, due to respiratory issues complicated by Parkinson’s disease. His legacy continues to inspire generations and his story is a reminder that with hard work, dedication and a commitment to one’s beliefs, anything is possible.

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About the Contributor
Japri Jamison
Japri Jamison, Opinion Lead
Japri Jamison is a 17-year-old senior currently going to Tracy High School. He was born in San Jose, California on February 20, 2006. He has moved back and forth, from San Jose to Tracy throughout his life. He is the oldest of two siblings. Jamison has one sister and one brother. Jamison’s Mom attended high school in San Jose and attended college in Milpitas, California. Jamison is a student-athlete and is enrolled in the National Honors Society, which demonstrates academic achievement by achieving a 3.65 GPA or higher. Jamison has played with the Tracy High Men’s Basketball program since coming to Tracy High. He is looking forward to playing in his fourth year with Tracy High as a senior. He is excited to take journalism and looking forward to improving his writing abilities as well as writing about things that interest him, such as basketball and sports in general. Jamison is looking forward to majoring in biomedical sciences, as well as playing basketball in college.  

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