As a professional athlete who popularized the sport and who remains one of the most well-known boxers of all time, Muhammad Ali was a three-time world heavyweight champion as well as an Olympic athlete. The following will explore the life and times of Cassius Clay/Muhammad Ali and discuss the important contributions that he has made to the boxing world as well as to the United States of America (About Muhammad 2009).
Cassius Clay grew up in the 1940s Louisville, Kentucky, a community in which blacks and whites intermixed but there was also an undercurrent of racism which pervaded all aspects of society. Accordingly, racial segregation was a feature of the early boxers existence in Kentucky as the state practiced the infamous Jim Crow laws. Due to these restrictions on race mixing, education, healthcare, and a variety of other things such as rural road transport were segregated based upon race. Despite growing up in an era in which the color of his skin was a hindrance, Cassius Clay put whatever anger he had at the discriminatory and racist society in which he grew up towards boxing. As a young boy he began boxing and eventually won six Kentucky Golden gloves titles as well as an Amateur Athletic Union national title. Cassius Clay impressed boxing aficionados throughout the Midwest as well as nationally and he represented the United States in the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome. Unknown to many, Cassius Clay – later to become the world-famous Muhammad Ali - was an accomplished amateur boxer who won the light heavyweight gold medal for the United States in Rome in 1960. Racism was a serious problem in the United States during this time and the victorious Cassius Clay reportedly threw his gold medal into the river upon returning to United States and being refused service due to the existence of Jim Crow laws. Despite the fact that Cassius Clay successfully