The death of Muhammad Ali brought an outpouring of grief , sorrow and sadness as literally tens of millions from around the world sought ways to express their condolences. Various media sources had their tributes and the print media in particular paid their respects with full-page articles , op-ed pieces and even comments sought from the public , in letters sent to the newspapers. Obituaries were also resplendent with the announcement of Ali’s death and of course the Hollywood literati also mourned the death of the fighter in their own inimitable way.
From my own standpoint , much of what I have read in the recent days subsequent to Muhammad Ali’s death has reminded me how little things have really changed since the days of his seeking to speak out against the injustices wrought upon minorities here in the United States , the country’s entry into the Vietnam War and his stance taken as a conscientious objector. Many seem to forget , the fighter was well within his right not to fight in the war even though he had been drafted. Politically motivated or not , the verdict of the US government could not sway Ali in his determination. The boxer may well have been leveling his criticism at the government , but in reality, a great deal of what he saying was indeed true and even judging by his vocal opposition to the war and the US government’s mistreatment of minorities. If you take a look at the racial divide now in place within the country, the economic and social angst , without seeing a number of the current Presidential candidates using race as a platform for their political diatribe and you have to really wonder how much a real social advancement has actually been made in the US, altogether .
I have long admired Muhammad Ali as a fighter, humanitarian and a genuinely passionate individual. He brought a voice to the issue of the downtrodden , when many of his boxing peers at the time remained silent. Even his most famous opponent of his illustrious career , Joe Frazier was very critical of Ali and his antiwar stance. Yet , if anything Frazier could very well have been thought of as an ‘Uncle Tom ‘ , with his own stance and obeisance of not wanting to offend his Caucasian associates within the sport and the public in general. Floyd Patterson , himself a former boxer , was also critical of Ali and beyond the three-time world heavyweight champion’s choice to change his name and religious faith from being a Christian to a Muslim , was also seen as a threat. The perception being , Ali’s choice of aligning himself to the Nation of Islam and its then leader the Honorable Elijah Muhammad posed a real threat to the country. Anti Muslim sentiment then and even more so now , but no one seems to give a damn, that the biggest threat posed to the country remains the ineptitude of the US Congress and successive Presidential administrations over the past four and a half decades. It is simply the downright ambivalence and stupidity of the electorate along with the ongoing nonsensical diatribe of politicians at the local, state and national levels which continues unabated.
As a youth , my fondness for the sport of boxing came from my father who was as passionate about the sport as he was about Muhammad Ali, Joe Louis and Sonny Liston . It would be his fight against Liston where Ali would make his name professionally, when he won the world heavyweight title for the first time. A successful defense against Sonny Liston and the drama which surrounded the bout still draws a great deal of attention and criticism to this day. Muhammad Ali would go on to make eleven successful defenses of the world heavyweight title (WBA/WBC) before he suffered a loss to Joe Frazier at Madison Square Garden , New York City, New York on the 8th March ,1971. There were three now classic fights between Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali, which are considered to be among the very best in boxing history . Nothing before or since has been considered close in comparison , though everyone will have their favorite bouts or series or trilogy of fights between famed boxers over the years.
Perhaps the fight which might resonate the most with fans of Muhammad Ali , has to be the bout against George Foreman , who at the time was considered to be the most lethal fighter of his generation. Forman was known for his punching power and his ability to knock an opponent out with either hand. Foreman would defend the title he won in defeating Joe Frazier by making a defense against Muhammad Ali in Kinshasa , Zaire (Democratic Republic of Congo) on 30th October , 1974 . In a result which was seen as one of the biggest upsets in boxing history , Ali as the challenger would defeat Forman in the eighth round by a TKO (technical knockout) . These two protagonists would never meet again professionally in a boxing ring , but a long-lasting friendship would begin , lasting right up to Ali’s death.
If Muhammad Ali’s greatest professional triumphs were said to have taken place in the ring , then he also had a number of demons outside it , which I believe arose from what he saw as a blatant disregard of human rights , a government still steeped in racism , with a wish to disenfranchise segments of the population. Forget about the protests about the Vietnam War and simply look at the facts as they stood at the time during the Civil Rights’ Era of the sixties and the lead-up into the seventies. Politics was divisive , the Klu Klux Klan wielded a great deal of power not just in the Deep South, but across the country. Yet, there are those who try to gloss over those rather abhorrent moments in history and simply deem it as being an idyllic period in the nation’s history and this was particular true from the White perspective. There were also internal fractions within a number of black organizations , as the unity sought within the NAACP and Nation of Islam (NOI) might well have been orchestrated by the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) as a way weakening the growing power of both groups. Funny isn’t it this sought of attention was never seen as appropriate in dealing with the violent actions of Klu Klux Klan , as then FBI Director J Edgar Hoover only felt there to be a threat against the country by either Communists and organizations such as the NAACP and Nation of Islam , whom he felt to be subversive and a danger to national security.
The Vietnam War was a sham and the country’s involvement the conflict brought a great deal of loss for the nation, with so young men dying for no apparent reason , other than the fog , folly and down right stupidity with the decision-making of the Congress and President at the time. Those returning heroes in many cases , were not seen as heroes in some circles , but more so as murderers and many of them also returned , psychologically battered and mentally unstable . PTSD (post traumatic stress syndrome) was not yet a syndrome or psychosis which was fully understood by the medical establishment and even to this day the Department of Defense and the VA (Department of Veterans Affairs ) are not able to fully appreciate the ravages of this illness, much less treat the sufferers of this illness appropriately or with dignity. So in effect it was better deflect the incompetence of an administration, , by haranguing an athlete , Muhammad Ali , who sought to speak out about social indifference , the folly of war and the fact he felt his country had no respect for many of its citizens .
Four-plus decades on and there have been few athletes in today’s arena who are willing to speak out on social injustice. In many respects so-called acts of opposition are orchestrated and rather comedic with regard to the effect sought. Nowhere has this been more self-evident than with the rather innocuous stance taken by the NBA and a number of the high-profiled stars within the league in the aftermath of the death of teenager Trayvon Martin . Since then , there have also been some rather tedious and asinine PSA’s (public service announcements) on the issue of gun violence , but no real vociferous calls for any type of real dialogue concerning the issue.
Muhammad Ali may well have set a template for athletes to be vocal on issues of social inequality , but far too many of today’s superstar athletes are far too concerned with endorsement deals , accumulating wealth or simply being boorish in terms of their conduct in public or private . Ali gave of himself monetarily , in a variety of causes which he truly cared about around the world, but a great deal of this seems to be forgotten by those who only seek to oppose what he stood for .
Picture gallery. Click on image to view a frame along with the accompanying narrative.
While the world mourns Muhammad Ali’s passing , the eulogies continue across various media formats , with a cast of thousands posting daily about their memories of one of the most widely recognized athletes in history and how much he meant to them. As a youth my memories of him have to proven to be long-lasting , but it has been my respect and what he has stood for, which has my ultimate admiration ! The cause of a great man can be deemed as doing something great , but I feel it can also mean having a lasting impression on others, where they also seek to change a life for the better. Not only do I believe Ali has been able to achieve this feat, he has also changed the viewpoint of many on how we also look at our political leaders and question their conduct while in office.
Don’t blame me for what an ancestor did , that was then , this is now
Over the past ten years a concerted effort has been made to right an evil wrong perpetrated within this country , that most would rather forget and simply choose to ignore , or better yet, claim , that as it was a thing of the past , then it should be forgotten . Well , racism is not a thing of the past nor has it been forgotten . Today , we have the proliferation of sex trafficking and slavery across the globe , and the United States has become one of the largest market places for the industry . Many of those who are being trafficked are young girls , as well as young boys , as the purveyors of this trade cater to the needs of their perverted customers . Never let it be said , that money doesn’t get you what you want and when you want it . And yes , the oldest profession known to man remains the livelihood of many , with law enforcement simply at a loss as how to eradicate its presence .
Many of you may well be aware of such boxing luminaries from the past , Archie Moore , and Floyd Patterson , who reigned over the heavyweight scene , when the sport was rich in talent and the title fights actually meant something . Long before, the prominence of Muhammad Ali , George Foreman , Sonny Liston , Larry Holmes and Mike Tyson came into being . The two most celebrated fighters within the division , of any era and weight category , were boxers who paved the way for the sport of boxing to be respected and where boxing historians still reveled in their notoriety , fame and skill-set . Less of the stupidity , as to the “ greatness” of Rocky Marciano , who on his best day would have been hard pressed to defeat either Jack Johnson or Joe Louis Barrow . The latter , whose given name was Barrow , took the name Joe Louis , and then rose to become the greatest heavyweight in boxing history , until the ascent of a young man from Louisville , Kentucky , by the name of Cassius Marcellus Clay. Clay , as you know , would later become known as Muhammad Ali , having converted to Islam , and the Sufi sect, of one of the world’s great religions.
Jack Johnson became boxing’s first African-American world heavyweight boxing champion , when the sport , not so much in its infancy , was still finding a way to legitimize itself and become recognized as a sport that appealed to the masses . Routinely , triumphed as a discipline of gentlemen , the sport was essentially dominated by Caucasian males who refused to fight their African-American contemporaries at the time (turn of the century) , for fear of being beaten or shown to lack the physical ability in proving to be the better athlete or boxer. Much as it was within the game of baseball, and the continued belief that Babe Ruth was, and still remains the greatest player to have ever played the game baseball . The inductee within Baseball’s Hall of Fame , refused to play against teams from the Negro Leagues and was a staunch supporter of the sport remaining segregated . Granted , there were laws on the books that prevented teams from within what was then MLB from facing any affiliate from the Negro Leagues . However , it was known that these edicts were circumvented , when money was said to have changed hands, in order to facilitate such games , which were never actually recognized in or for the record books . Historians and the revisionists of baseball, would later seek to change that all , primarily to suggest that the game at the time was being played on a level playing field . What a crock of fecal matter !
Joe Louis remains amongst the top five heavyweight champions in boxing history , his record of twenty-five consecutive title defenses and the longevity of his boxing reign and career , places him amongst the pantheons of the sport . Yet it was his demeanor away from the ring that enamored the fans of boxing , while at times , we knew there to be detractors, because of Louis’ ethnicity . As World War II (WWII) was about to reach , and spread its tentacles widespread , and the rise of Nazism becoming a plague across Europe . Joe Louis would be used as a battle cry for the war effort , when he fought then former foe and nemesis , German boxer , Max Schmeling , in an epic rematch , that has been described as one of the greatest fights in the annals of boxing history. It should be remembered that Louis , lost to Schmeling , when the two met in a non-title fight at Yankee Stadium , in New York City , New York on June 19th , 1936. A then unbeaten Louis (24-0-0) was the prohibitive favorite for the bout ,which would end with a knockout in the twelfth round victory for Schmeling. The shock of that loss and the fact that the news was reported back to then German Chancellor , Adolph Hitler , was met with a great deal of adulation and exaltation by the leader and German people , as they sought to prove themselves the “Master race “ and that indeed , the rise of an Aryan Nation to profligate the world, and to try and prove that nation’s dominance . Alas , it would prove not to be , for Hitler , or for the German people .
In the long-awaited rematch , Joe Louis would exact his revenge, with a sweeping and stunning victory , which saw Max Schmeling KO’d in the very first round , when the two fighters met for the second and final time of their illustrious careers. A long-lasting friendship would be built between the two up until 1981 , and the passing of Joe Louis , whose funeral would be attended by Schmeling , who had now become a successful businessman and industrialist .
Louis was hoisted and used as a tool to try to sustain the myth that Rocky Marciano should and would become a great champion . Marciano’s career (49-0, 43 KO’s) was unblemished upon his retirement, and the fact that he fought and defeated , a past his prime Joe Louis , only showed the slippery slope that the sport of boxing would take over the ensuing years . One of the more embarrassing aspects of the post Joe Louis’ career , was the fact that as a ” war hero ” and military veteran , he would then be pursued by the federal government for the non-payment of taxes by the IRS, the agency responsible for such endeavors . It would take the assistance of Louis’ former nemesis, Max Schmeling to come to his aid , with then known gangster , Frank Lucas , disgusted with the treatment of the boxer by the US government , paying off a $50,000 a tax lien levied against Joe Louis by the agency . It would not be the last of Louis’ financial woes , much of which were caused by caused by the mismanagement of his finances by his then manager , Mike Jacobs .In the wake of it all , we can see what happened then to Joe Louis, has been mirrored repeatedly down the years within the sport of boxing , countless times , with promoters and managers defrauding their clients , and simply leaving them destitute .
Jack Johnson’s career was marred by the inherent racism that was abound within the sport and the very fact that the early part of his boxing career was simply prefaced with bouts against “colored fighters” , speaks largely to the fact that the country was still divided primarily along racial lines , before one could actually mention socioeconomic lines . It would also fair to say , that even though the sport had yet to attain an international presence by way of an internationally recognized body to run boxing . Fledgling groups grew out of the need , for there to be some sort of structural setup. However , the main groups were all Caucasian controlled , with the input coming from wealthy financial backers , who simply saw fit for the none inclusion of Black or even Hispanic fighters at the time . Out of this grew the nondescript organizations with claimant of being a legitimate body to govern the sport for colored fighters. Quickly shot down , it was the growing reputation of Johnson as a pugilist , that would catch the attention of the now more famed white fighters, who sought to debunk the myth that their black counterparts were superior and who were merely ancestors of slaves simply looking for another avenue to vent their anger and to seek reparations . Those claims and particular that of Johnson, that would also hold sway with the promoters and manager of James L Jeffries , who at the time was the world heavyweight champion .
During the ensuing years of his reign , Jack Johnson would be the subject of numerous racial attacks, in which, on several occasions he narrowly escaped death . And if to further exacerbate this all, Johnson also became the subject of ongoing police investigations , as law enforcement in the South as well as in his home state of Texas, sought to make an example of him , rather than see him prevail with his new-found fame , wealth , and notoriety. I was recently rebuffed by two patrons who tried to suggest that the racial divide within the country as such no longer exists . Unless I’m mistaken , the “so-called advances” that have been made , are now being trampled upon , not only by the electorate themselves , but also by the highest court in the land , the US Supreme Court. If anything , the apathy of the electorate and the ongoing existence of racism hasn’t declined but can and will remain within our midst , only because so many , no longer wish to question this type of behavior .
Away from the ring , Jack Johnson’s life was lavish , as with his new-found notoriety and acclaim , came the trappings of wealth , success and the very fact that abroad , specifically in Europe, he would find the sort of respect and reverence he would be unable to find in America . The very fact that the Parisians of Paris, France , held the boxer in such high esteem , simply showed, that he could gain respect elsewhere , that was not afforded or granted to him in the land of his birth. Can anyone not see the similarities in Johnson’s life and that of Muhammad Ali’s , at the time of his wrongful incarceration for being a conscientious objector to the Vietnam War ? Ali became a man without a home , having been imprisoned , vilified in the press as a coward , and then to have his family subjected to heinous racial epithets, as well as physical harm . Par for the course in a country that tries to hold itself up as a moral beacon of light , when it subjects many of its citizens to such heinous acts , never-mind the continued mistreatment of the native American Indians .
Four decades on , ask yourself , how far has this country really advanced , and how it treats the minorities within its borders ? Do you really, have an answer that you believe to just and even based on principles that you would hold true?
Johnson’s undoing, it was believed would be the fact, that his private life became more public , when he remained in America . Lavish cars , the parading of his wealth and his accompanying of females , especially those from outside of his ethnicity ran afoul of the laws of the land. A black man, cavorting with a white woman, and parading her off as a chattel ? Yet, a white male raping a black woman , and you would be hard pressed to find law enforcement agencies seeking to arrest the perpetrators of such a crime , let alone have him being placed on trial . Less, we forget also, interracial relationships were frowned upon , and marriages within those racial demographics , were unlawful, during the early part of the twentieth century . Jack Johnson epitomized the lifestyle of so many of today’s high-profiled athletes , a disdain for the law , specifically those that he felt were unjust , and the very fact that in spite of his wealth and his wish to enhance the life of those amongst his own race , he was treated with disdain by his white counterparts within his chosen profession, as well as by the bodies who sought to represent the sport across the country.
Lucille Cameron, a white female , whom Johnson would be in a long-term relationship for several years was questioned by the police , who sought to coerce her into making a false claim that she had been abducted , and taken across state lines . Under the outmoded and archaic “Mann Act “ (1910) , it was unlawful to take a white female across state lines for a pernicious act . The law itself was drawn up specifically to stop acts of immorality , and prostitution , but more often than not , it was used to target black males with a desire to enter into a sexual relationship with a white female . In the rural south of America , and in the Midwest , it was not uncommon to hear of a black male being railroaded into pleading guilty, for such a crime , even when there was said to be no evidence of a crime being committed . And for Jack Johnson , his fate was a year imprisonment on a trumped charge , for which it was never proven that he took Cameron across state lines , only that the two traveled together as companions , while at the time both he and Lucille Cameron were in a relationship , albeit that it was frowned upon because of their ethnicity . As I alluded to earlier , white male raping a female could go unpunished , but god forbid a black man at the time , got involved with a consensual relationship with a white female .
Over the past two decades, several congressional leaders have sought or proposed a legislative measure to have this crime expunged from Jack Johnson’s record . However , as of late , it has been the past decade , Senators John McCain (R-Az) and Harry Reid (D-Nv) have sought to obtain a Presidential pardon for Jack Johnson , which has been reviewed by successive administrations from Bill Clinton on down to the present White House incumbent , Barack Obama to have a pardon be granted . Having been reviewed by the US Justice Department under then President Clinton , a pardon was never granted. And as the descendants of Johnson’s family, awaits for some kind of progress in the petition for his pardon , it does seem odd that in this day and age, it is left to an ambiguous and some might determine an inept bureaucratic agency to make a recommendation to a President , who seems more intent on trying to create the perception that he seeks to represent the electorate and is said to understand the rule of law . Yet when questioned on the initiative concerning Johnson , he appeared to be nonplussed and out of sorts as to whom this individual was said to be .
Members of Congress introduced a resolution Tuesday to pardon ex-champ Jack Johnson
By Jon Saraceno USA Today
The fight for the legacy of Jack Johnson continues unabated.
Two U.S. Senators and two U.S. Representatives introduced a resolution Tuesday to pardon the first African-American heavyweight champion, wrongfully convicted of violating the Mann Act in 1913.
Since 2004, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) have sought a posthumous pardon of Johnson, whose racially motivated prosecution and conviction imprisoned him for a year.
The Mann Act prohibited transporting women across state lines for immoral purposes; Johnson dated a Caucasian woman.
Johnson’s reputation and Hall of Fame career were ruined.
Johnson, the son of a former slave, was born March 31, 1878, in Galveston, Texas. His boxing skills were honed in “battle royals,” events in front of white audiences in which several black men fought until a last man was standing to collect the coins tossed his way.
He turned professional in 1897 and went on to win the heavyweight title in 1908 by defeating Tommy Burns in Australia.
U.S. Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Rep. William “Mo” Cowan (D-Mass.) joined McCain and King in co-authoring the resolution.
With bipartisan support, McCain hopes President Obama will take action. In past years, both chambers of Congress unanimously have passed the resolution but no executive action was taken.
Click on link to read in full .
In spite of his relationships , and marriages , Johnson’s yearning for respect from his white counterparts would lead to a bout , that saw the beginnings of the decline in his career . His fight with Jess Willard at the Oriental Park , in Havana , Cuba , with the World Heavyweight title at stake , would take on epic proportions. As the fight was staged and fought in humidifying heat , in an outside arena , with the temperature , in excess of 105 degrees. Johnson as the champion could have refused to have taken the fight , but such was his pride and ego , that he simply made light of the threats , from the promoters , his opponent and his detractors who were in attendance , seeking the black champion dethroned . The bout would go on for an astonishing twenty-six rounds , with Willard , winning by a knockout . Yet that was not in part all of the story , as during the fight , Johnson punished his much bigger opponent relentlessly , knocking him down , only to have the referee Jack Welch , disregard what was a clear knockdown , by claiming that Willard slipped during the fight in the third round . A further knockdown took place in the seventh round, that saw a prolonged count , beyond the mandated ten seconds’ count , that allowed the challenger , Jess Willard , to regain his composure and to continue . Johnson would then realize, that this fight could and would not be won by the champion , and that it would not be won fairly , according to the Marquis of Queensbury rules .
Attrition would get the better of the champion in spite of his gallant effort and the very fact that he out-boxed his opponent throughout the entire fight , even after having been knocked down, himself . In the twenty-sixth round the bout came to an end with Johnson being knocked down , seemingly unwilling to make it to his feet. He would later acknowledge that he could have carried on and would have beaten Jess Willard , but knew that any effort that was put forth by him would have been in vain. The 5th April , !915 , would forever , change the face of boxing as we know it, as it would be three decades later before the sport would see another heavyweight champion of color , when Joe Louis won the title by defeating James Braddock , on June 22nd , !937 at Comiskey Park , in Chicago , Illinois , with an eighth round knockout of the champion.
After the championship title loss to Jess Willard , Jack Johnson would fight for another sixteen more years , winning twelve of his final thirteen bouts , never once being allowed to challenge for the heavyweight title again. The boxing establishment in America had enough the braggadocio pugilist and his claims as being the best boxer on the planet who mocked his white opponents for their lack of ability. In reality , it may well have had more to do with the fact that they saw with Johnson’s reign as the champion , more young men of color would seek to make a name for themselves in a predominantly white Caucasian driven sport , that was also dominated at every level by Caucasians and that had intertwined itself with the gaming interests in a number of circles that was also dominated by organized crime . Now the sport of boxing no longer needs organized crime to remain and maintain its seediness , as the remnants of such endeavors have now found themselves at the highest echelons of the sport within each of the main international governing bodies of boxing . Wherein , corruption prevails , promoters dictate, what title fights take place and in many respects, which fighters are given title shots , even when their credentials remain suspect . And I might add, in a sport that now sees declining audience participation, and where the two most prominent boxers of today, are now said to be in the waning years of their careers . It could be said, that Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao can bring nothing new to the sport of boxing , that we have not yet seen from a bygone era .
Both Jack Johnson and Joe Louis , had the skills and the talent to garner fame worldwide , while carrying themselves with a great deal of character and respect. Can the same actually be said of many of today’s fighters, who followed in the footsteps two of the sport’s most renowned talents ? Do bear in mind that Johnson set the template for many of the antics we would later see with Muhammad Ali , with his imbued talents , of which a great many of his traits were also reminiscent of Joe Louis at his very best . Say what you will about the era of Mike Tyson , but in reality Tyson was not so much a boxer , he was more of a street brawler , with an intimidating disposition, that simply scared many of his opponents in the early part of his career .
Picture gallery .
What thoughts if any, do you have concerning the careers of Jack Johnson and Joe Louis ? Is it your belief that the sport of boxing during the era that each fought had a resounding effect on their lives and the way that they were said to have conducted themselves ? Chime in with a comment as you see fit on this and anything else that you feel is pertinent to this particular subject matter ?
Picture and slideshow details below .
(1) World heavyweight champion , Jack Johnson , pictured , prepares to defend his title against Tony Ross at Duquesne Gardens in Pittsburgh , Pennsylvania , in June of 1909 . Johnson would go on to defeat Ross with sixth round victory , referee Jimmy Dime presiding . @ copyrighted material ………. all rights reserved .
(2) Jack Johnson is seen here during a ring workout in preparation for a defense of the World “Colored” Heavyweight” title . Johnson before actually winning the legitimate world championship primarily fought only black or Latin fighters because of the restrictions that prevailed within the sport of boxing at the time . The sport was a closely monitored and controlled by primarily white businessmen and organized gambling , who sought no participation whatsoever at any level by minority fighters or trainers . As with all of the major sports’ recreational activities , segregation dominated the landscape completely . In many cases there were legal statutes on the books around the country restricting mixed sports between Caucasians and minorities of any ethnicity . AP/REUTERS archives ….
(3) Johnson is seen here with the third of his three wives , Irene Pineau . The couple were married for twenty-five years , right up until his death in 1946. Attalla pictorial biographies .
(4) A pensive Joe Louis is seen here having just finished an arduous and rigorous ring schedule . Louis still remains the longest tenured champion in heavyweight boxing history , along with having made a record 25 consecutive title defenses . Time Inc @ copyrighted material ….. all rights reserved ….
(5) Joe Louis would prove to be triumphant in his rematch against German fighter Max Schmeling . Considered bitter rivals at the height of their respective careers . It was the “fog of war” and the looming appearance of the country having to enter WWII that brought about much of the seething vitriol and xenophobia aimed at Schmeling . The two ring rivals would end up being close friends , right up until the time Louis’ death , which Max Schmeling who had become a wealthy industrialist , and who would come his friend’s financial aid , as well as attending his funeral in 1981. REUTERS/ Thomson Inc …….
(6) Joe Louis , left , is seen here with former boxing adversary Max Schmeling . The two former pugilists fought two epic battles during their careers , but would later become firm friends . It was Schmeling who would provide Louis with financial assistance when the former world champion underwent financial difficulties , much of which was self-inflicted . However, a large portion of Louis’ ring earnings were squandered on meaningless investments or simply withheld from him surreptitiously by his then manager , Mike Jacobs . Joe Louis was also given assistance when renowned Harlem gangster and drug Lord , Frank Lucas paid off a $50,000 tax-lien placed against the fighter by the IRS. It should be noted that Louis a war hero and veteran during WWII , had been hounded by the IRS and US government for his debts. It would later take an act of Congress to have that debt stricken , in recognition of Louis contribution to the “war effort” and his contributions to the sport of boxing . Hearst Inc. / Keith Appleton ….. …….
It seems strange the heavyweight scene of boxing cannot be identified with as having a champion that the fans can actually identify with . At present that niche within the sport has been carved out by the Ukrainian brothers Vladimir and Vitali Klitschko who between them hold all four of the pre-eminent titles that are duly recognized by the major governing bodies of boxing .
From my own perspective the sport and in particular the heavyweight division took a downward spiral the moment that Lennox Lewis stepped away from the ring and announced his retirement as the last undisputed champion of the world . Since then there have been a plethora of claimants to the title in one form or any other with no one champion standing out or having the ability to unite the division . What might now be even more detrimental for the sport is that neither Vitlali or Wladimir Klitschko would care to fight each other and bring about a unified champion within the division . Instead the two have refused to consider such a bout stating that this is in fact due to a promise made to their mother . That asides this only further adds evidence as to the fact that there’s little discerning interest within the division and even less so throughout the sport beyond the names of Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather .
And though the fans long for a bout between the two most recognizable names within the sport that prospect now seems further off then one would have thought possible. Pacquiao’s promoter Bob Arum has simply scuttled such an instance and Mayweather through his own sheer stupidity simply makes such a scenario seem even further unattainable either through his own outrageous demands or the very fact that he’s still embroiled with a number of legal issues that have yet to be resolved . As a fight fan who longs to see meaningful fights in all of the weight categories I now find it where that simply watching a bout in what we’re told is an title fight more often than not simply turns out to be a monotonous bore !
Here within the US many of the states are either aligned to multiple boxing authorities for their own self aggrandizement more than anything else . Furthermore domestically the rules governing the various state athletics commissions simply makes an outright mockery as to how the sport is actually regulated in North America , albeit that Las Vegas and New York city are seen as the Meccas for the sport .
Now there’s no denying that the loss of Mike Tyson from the sport in spite of his own misdeeds and the fact that Don King seemingly sucked the life blood out of the boxer like a vampire explicably led the fighter’s downfall. Those who simply state different are obviously not acutely aware as to King’s dealing with the fighters whose interests he claims to actually take care of. Simply look at the number of legal entanglements that he has had over the course of his career where he has been sued by fighters formerly associated with him ? It reads like a who’s of the sport from Muhammad Ali on down to the likes of Larry Holmes , Pernell Whitaker , George Foreman and Leon Spinks ___ all fighters who at one time or another had the rather dubious distinction of having to do business with the renowned promoter . This further emphasizes why the sport still remains corrupt and the strangle-hold that both Arum and King have on the sport as the two most dominant promoters in boxing .
I have long maintained that after Tyson’s mentor and former trainer Cus D’Amato died with King intervening seeking to lure Tyson away from his then co-managers Bill Clayton and John Jacobs simply led to the downward spiral of his professional career and private life . Given that King merely saw the young fighter as his way to numerous riches creating conflict within the Tyson camp were the means to the necessary ends for the promoter and all that he sought to achieve . And as impressive as Mike Tyson’s ascent to the top of the boxing world was said to be , his downfall if anything was all the more startling and the numerous events that led to it all. His incarceration for the rape of pageant contestant Desiree’ Washington and those three ” infamous fights” with Evander Holyfield was enough to suggest that as the biggest draw in the sport we simply yearned for more from Mike Tyson as we were all interested in seeing the train the wreck that his life had now become.
In watching fight during e early part of his career was simply to witness a ferocious animal intimidating , tormenting and then devouring its prey. What Tyson was able to achieve in becoming the youngest heavyweight champion in history by defeating Trevor Berbick for the WBC heavyweight title sent shock waves through the sport and especially within the division . Granted , the fighter had been mowing down opponents the way the machine gun had been used during the St Valentine’s Day Masscare led everyone to believe that Mike Tyson’s longevity as the world champion might well be a long one . And for all of his attributes as a fighter the one lingering issue I had with the boxer was the mere fact that biggest advantage was also to my mind his weakest attribute ! He intimidated his opponents to such an extent that he felt he was impervious , unbeatable and if anything complacent . His power lay within the fact that he could knock a fighter out with either hand but if anything his boxing skills were simply not as good as many purists believed it to be. Historians would suggest that his uppercuts and right cross were his most dangerous weapons in his arsenal but if anything what we would then find out over the course of Mike Tyson was the fact that his chin was indeed made of glass .
When Mike Tyson lost his title having made nine successful defense and the fact his demise came at the hands of what many believed was a journeyman in James ‘Buster’ Douglas at the Tokyo Dome in Tokyo , Japan , was all the more unbelievable . Douglas to my mind brought with him solid credentials in terms of his fight resume’ ! But it would appear that odds-makers simply viewed Tyson as the prohibitive favorite and the Douglas as simply another stat to pad the fighter’s already impressive record . What would follow then and all of the controversy that surrounds the fight to this day simply attests to the fact that no matter what you came to expect from a Mike Tyson fight there was always a chance that you get to see the unexpected . Tyson crawling around all on fours unable to beat the count of a rather surprised Octavio Meyran , the referee who presided over the bout left over 70,000 fans and a global audience of millions absolutely shell-shocked . The bewildered Tyson who had earlier knocked down the challenger in an earlier round (eighth) would lose in by a knockout in the tenth round . In the aftermath of that fight Tyson’s claim as the ‘baddest man on the planet’ clearly was now a thing of the past .
Don King as the promoter sought have the fight verdict overturned but that simply didn’t happen and Douglas’ own reign as the champion itself was somewhat short-lived as he would lose the title in his very first defense in a lackluster performance in a third round loss to Evander Holyfield at the MGM Mirage & Casino Complex in Las Vegas , Nevada in October of 1990 .
As I survey the boxing scene especially within the heavyweight division I simply no credibility within the division . It has become so asinine in seeing the ridicule being heaped upon the whole landscape of the category . What might be even more incredible this is the very same division that has given us great champions such as Joe Louis , Rocky Marciano , Muhammad Ali , Floyd Patterson , Larry Holmes and Lennox Lewis who have all distinguished themselves as former heavyweight champions of the world. The division no longer has any real legitimacy or credibility to it at all and while this all happens the category has simply become the laughing stock of the sports’ world and boxing in particular . One simply can no longer count on any of the major governing bodies to do what is morally right in bringing about a unified division as they simply have too much vested in their own well being from a financial standpoint rather than seeing the integrity of the sport rise to where it should be . But in reality I now believe that the hierarchies in question have now lost the opportunity to bring their sport back amongst the masses along the lines where the fans feel that they can once again take an interest in boxing .
The sport of boxing is now losing out to the upstart genre of MMA and the fact that the premiere governing body UFC stages bouts around the globe that has fans attending in droves , gives credence as to one of the main reasons why boxing has been steadily on the decline for almost a decade . Boxing for its part simply markets the brand to a select demographic base , those willing to spend $49-95 for PPV and major title bouts . And it now has becomes a rarity to find a major network broadcast of a bout much less a fight that is actually worth watching . Not so in the case of the UFC and the events that they stage for mass consumption and that of their major title bouts.
As to what the future holds for the heavyweight division doesn’t bode well without there being an undisputed champion . If anything it leaves the whole division with a void and a vacuum , moreover , the fans yearn for something far more exciting and meaningful. Mike Tyson may well have had his flaws but you simply knew that while he was in the ring he brought about a great deal of excitement lured us all to watch his fights . Now you’d be hard pressed to show any interest to watch either of the Klitschko brothers fight much realize that they’re said to be heavyweight champions of the world .
Picture gallery for your perusal . By clicking on an individual frame you can view that picture in its original formatted size .
In your honest opinion do you feel that the sport of boxing actually is of any importance on the sports panacea ? Also what thoughts if any do you have on the career of Mike Tyson and the reasons behind his abrupt fall from grace ? Simply chime in with your thoughts on the points raised within this piece .
(1) Vitali Klitschko, left, from Ukraine and his brother Vladimir pose with their world champion belts after Vitali defeated Samuel Peter from Nigeria during a WBC heavyweight boxing world championship fight in Berlin, Germany, Saturday, Oct. 11, 2008. Klitschko defeated Peter by technical knock out in round nine. The Ukrainian now hold all four of the internationally recognized organizationally belts within the heavyweight division. AP Photo/Herbert Knosowski ….
(2) Bruce Seldon (left) seen here facing Mike Tyson at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas , Nevada for Seldon’s WBA heavyweight title in September 1996 . The challenger , Tyson would end up defeating Seldon with a 12th round TKO. courtesy of stuff.co.nz @ copyrighted material all rights reserved …..
(3) Don King (left) of Don King (Promotions) Inc and Bob Arum of Top Rank Inc are the two most dominant promoters within the sport of boxing . The duo have promoted in excess of 500 world title fights in their cumulative careers spanning in excess of four decades. courtesy of AFP / Ronald Canter ……
(4) Lennox Lewis (left) is seen here defending his world heavyweight title against Mike Tyson at The Pyramid in Memphis , Tennessee. The champion would go on to defeat the challenger with an eighth round knockout to retain the undisputed heavyweight title . REUTERS/ Phillippe Gaston …….
(5) The challenger James ‘Buster’ Douglas is seen here on the canvas in the 8th round as referee Octavio Meyran carries on the count . Tyson also in picture is seen in a neutral corner watching the count . Douglas was able to continue and went on to defeat the champion, Mike Tyson with a 12th round knockout that shocked the world of boxing and ended the champion’s claim of being “the baddest man on the planet” . courtesy of BBC Sports / Cameron Gyles …….
(6) The left hook that led to the now memorable “long count” and Tyson’s demise at the hands of challenger James ‘Buster’ Douglas in their undisputed heavyweight title fight held at the Tokyo Dome , Tokyo , Japan in 1990. BBC Sports / Boxing ….
(7) Referee Octavio Meyran looks to escort Buster Douglas to a neutral corner before commencing the count over the prostrate Mike Tyson during the twelfth round of the duo’s world title bout . BBC Sports/ Boxing …
(8) Evander Holyfield (right) grimaces in pain having just been bitten on his right ear by Mike Tyson during their bout . Referee Mills Lane seen here looks to separate the two fighters after the incident for which Tyson would later be disqualified . Getty Images / archives …..
(9) Both fighters look to connect with solid shots aimed at each other during their now infamous bout staged at The MGM Grand in Las Vegas , Nevada on the 28th June 1997 . Mike Tyson would be disqualified at the end of round three with the verdict being awarded to Evander Holyfield . Getty Images / archives ……
One of the great tragedies of the modern sporting arena, was to witness the downward spiral of the boxing career of Muhammad Ali . We all knew that he fought way past his prime and if anything had four or five fights too many. Call it the ‘Pride And The Passion ,The Agony Of Shame And Defeat’ . But nothing to my mind epitomized that more than when Ali fought Larry Holmes (69-6-1, 44KO’s) for the WBC heavyweight title in October of 1980 .
What cannot be disputed is that, whilst being courageous , Ali was also being foolhardy in thinking that he would be able to defeat at Holmes at this stage of his career. Larry Holmes at the time, was the pre-eminent heavyweight boxer in the world and his record suggested as much. And though the relationship between the two wasn’t all strained. Holmes as a former sparring partner of Ali, was at first reluctant to accept his challenge. With that in mind , the fight still went ahead with the usual ballyhoo accorded with such a spectacle. We had a former champion looking to regain the title for an unprecedented fourth time. Holmes if anything , wanted to keep some semblance of respect that he had for his former mentor. But it was hard to do so when Ali , himself, wanted to sell the fight with his usual aplomb. A task made certainly all the much easier as it was being promoted by none other than Don King. Perhaps no else within the sport of boxing as a promoter, would be able to put on such a spectacle and at the same time have the public lapping it all up like voracious beasts ?
Ali (left), seen here with Holmes (right), in their WBC heavyweight title clash . Ali would lose the bout to Holmes in an 11th round TKO. The fight would be Ali’s penultimate fight but he would go on to have one last fight against , Canadian , Trevor Berbick . A fight which he also lost in a unanimous decision. picture appears courtesy of John Iacona – copyrighted material . @ All rights reserved …………..
Now, not wanting to sound outlandish or come off as being trite. I do believe that those within the sport and many who governed the sport of boxing at the time. I feel , full well that they were quite aware as to the acute problems that Ali was facing at the time. Primarily , with his health and the fact that he was lured into taking on fights that in no way shape or form , should be have done so, to begin with. And even prior to the Holmes’ bout , it was quite evident that his skills had already began to erode as a boxer and were in fact on the decline. Unfortunately however, he was being enabled by his handlers and many in and outside of his entourage. They impressed upon that he was still ‘The Champ’ , even if it was in name only. And by all accounts , that was how Ali still wanted to be referred to -as ” The Champ” . Sadly, but surely this was one of those episodes where valor may well have not counted for a great deal on Muhammad Ali’s part.
Holmes the aggressor takes the fight to Ali and backs him up into a corner where unleashes a vicious onslaught with a barrage of punches in the sixth round. picture appears courtesy of sweetfights.com/archives/boxing/Ali-Holmes …….
From the moment that the bell first rang and until the referee stopped the fight in the eleventh round. One knew that this was going to be a night when we all saw a once great champion be brought humbly to his knees . Ali had his moments in the fight, where he brought back memories past , with moments of impish speed and flashes of brilliance. But on the side of the equation, there stood Holmes , a masterful technician, with an all too wicked right jab , powerful upper cuts and tremendous body punching. Who completely at will , literally went about destroying the legacy and myth that was once Muhammad Ali. He was brutally efficient in exposing Ali to his barrage of attacks and more than once he called on the referee to stop the fight , in order to save Ali from further punishment and embarrassment. Alas, much of that fell on deaf ears as the referee proceeded to let the fight continue to its bitter conclusion.
Don King , boxing promoter and infamous showman. Here he talks about his influences , the sport of boxing ,how he feels that he’s influenced and enhanced the sport . Little does he speak of the subpoenas that he’s received over the years from boxers who he’d represented over that time. You can see also, that King has a way with words, as he waxes on so lyrically on a number of subjects. I do believe that he’s swallowed a dictionary !
Now we come full circle where both of these tremendous gladiators of the ring have moved in differing directions as far their lives have gone. Both having been inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. However, one of these two fighters is in conscious state of clear health. Aging , but still active in the community , Holmes resides in Scranton , Pennsylvania, with his wife and family close at his side. Ali , as we all know suffers from Parkinson’s Disease, plus various other ailments that have ravaged his body over the course of time. Much of it coming from his many fights within the ring.
Cognitive of those around him , Ali now mumbles as he’s unable to speak , nor can he facilitate any prolonged movement because of the degenerative disease. Furthermore , with him being cloaked in silence , it seems all the more bewildering for us all who’ve witnessed him speak with rapid fire aplomb about he would indeed defeat an opponent. Medication alone won’t bring him back to us in some shape or form that we can all recognize from days of old. Sadly in part, this has been due to the negligence of others. But perhaps , even more so, the negligence shown by Al, in not heeding the advice of others who only wanted the best for him and not the worst.
Ali in a scene from a ESPN commissioned documentary entitled ’30 For 30′ . The titles denotes the sports programming network’s thirty years as a cable broadcast outlet. And it has commissioned a wide variety of documentary films covering sport’s topics of the past thirty years. One of the films in question , is a piece on the Ali – Holmes’ title fight , entitled ‘ Muhammad And Larry’ . Which goes into great detail, as to the lead-up to the fight and what ensued after-wards.
There are very few sporting icons alive today whose names are immediately recognized no matter where you are on the face of the planet. Muhammad Ali is one of those icons whose light still shines brightly in terms of that said recognition. But now, it merely in his own mind , it is but a fading ember as his memory . And for we , his fans all we now have to live with are those memories that are on film. Never again will hear his voice speaking passionately on a wide range of subjects. As his voice has now been silenced in the most cruel of ways. I can only but imagine how different his life might have been ,had he not been struck down by such a debilitating disease.
Date of Birth 01/17/1942
Name; Born Cassius Marcellus Clay changed name to Muhammas Ali after change in religious status- becoming a Muslim- Nation of Islam
Place of Birth; Louisville, Kentucky,.
Notable achievements; Olympic Gold Medalist at the 1960 Rome Olympics Lt Heavyweight champion
First Professional fight ; 10/29/1960 Opponent ; Tunney Hunsaker W UD 6 rounds
Final Professional fight ; 12/11/1981 Opponent ; Trevor Berbick L
UD 10 rounds
First man to win the heavyweight title three times
I know that we all don’t share the same ideology or political views. But I’m sure that the majority of us know right from wrong. Well , at least I’d like to think that we do ! I know that the freedom of speech is one of the main freedoms that this country affords its citizens and it is a freedom that we’re all imbued with and value like no other. But at the same time that very same freedom can have its consequences. Unfortunately there those who seem to forget that and also use it as a veil for their own insidious behavior.
Recently on a local sports’ talk radio show here within the Tampa Bay area. The co-hosts of the early to mid-morning show were having a rather innocuous discussion on the state of race relations within this country. I knew from the outset that this wasn’t going to be very good. The calls from many of the listeners that ensued bordered on the absurd. And by no stretch of the imagination , I’m definitely sure that the screener who took the calls for the program had to be screening out many of those incoming calls. Especially the ones that’d doubt want to air their vapid views as to the state of the country and the fact that they no doubt thought that minorities were the cause for many of the ills that the country now faces. True or not , this is more of a collective problem and not one of race at all !
However. over the course of the aired discussion during the program , one of the hosts who happens to be Hispanic made the comment that former boxer, Muhammad Ali was an outright racist. Now the other host of this show , who also happens to be of ethnic origin , in part agreed with his co-host. But what I found somewhat galling , was that he, as an African American took such a stance to begin with. Bearing in mind , what Ali had to endure and what was taking place at the time during his fight against the US government and his refusal to fight in Vietnam. Less we forget , that during the height of the sixties and the Civil Rights’ era – minorities and in particular African Americans had to endure a great deal of abuse , physical and verbal . All as part of fighting for the right to be free bstut what’s even worse the right to cast a vote . And though it pains me to think that these things had to take place just so that the rights of the few can be recognized. It pains me even more to think that there idiots such as this on the airwaves who are so unintelligent and have sense of history . But who proffer up an opinion without any looking back at the history of this country to begin with.
This host’s view that because Ali used the words or shall we say term ? “………… the white man is a devil “ In his eyes it suggests that Ali is a racist and as such he’s no different than a member of the Klu Klux Klan. Perhaps , I mistaken here but I think that in making such a comparison. It either proves the point that ….’ ignorance is bliss’, or that this individual doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about from the get-go. I know that the Federal Communications Commission(FCC) is wavering on the ‘Fairness Doctrine’ as it perceives to the airwaves, the print and television media. And the counter culture war that’s now said to be taking place between the Liberals and Conservatives. But clearly much of this just smacks in the face of all that’s said to be decent and of moral integrity. And if anything in trying to make a case for his argument it just showed how ignorant this individual was being. But then again, I ought to remind myself that this is the state of Florida . It still remains in ‘the dark ages’ in terms of its social and economic progression.
Ali seen here facing Jerry Quarry in his comeback fight held at the City Auditorium in Atlanta , Georgia. He would go on to defeat Quarry with a 3rd TKO. picture appears courtesy of moneygallery.com/ Neil Leifer ………………..
The strange thing is , this country decries the fact that some isn’t afforded the right to freedom of expression. But rarely does it do something when a person is actually denied that right. I mean if you’re being denied the right to vote , much less make a choice . What does that tell you about that society to begin with ? Furthermore , I thought it somewhat asinine that a person who’s on the airwaves didn’t put all that much thought before he made his statement to his listeners to begin with. Education obviously has its merits but it’s also predicated upon a student’s willingness to learn. An acute crisis the country now faces and has been facing over the last two decades.
1. a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to rule others.
2. a policy, system of government, etc., based upon or fostering such a doctrine; discrimination.
3. hatred or intolerance of another race or other races.
Most certainly the road traveled …..’ as to the social journey in terms of race relations’. The final destination is not yet in view. And that stems from the mere fact that on both sides of the social divided there’s a great deal of ignorance out there, that’s still being displayed. And it certainly hasn’t helped that the political climate and both parties shares a great deal of blame for that as well. From the very outset they’ve made it a part of a political agenda and doctrine that has done little to eschew the ideals ‘….of all men are created equal’. Instead there are those who are meant to be viewed as the dominant idealists , merely because of the color of their skin. Something that I for one don’t believe was being taught by Jesus Christ at the behest of his ‘Holy Father’. We were supposed to have been created in his own image , were we not ? So I guess the traits that we’re meant to share are essentially the same in some aspects ? Other than that of the color of our skin off-course !
ThosedayswhenAli , FrazierandNortonheldswayovertheheavyweightdivisionwasindeedsomethingtobehold.And thankfullywestillhavethefilmandpictureswherebywecanstillremembertheseevents.Onecouldgofartherbackandstate that duringtheeraofJoe Louis ,RockyMarciano ,Ingemar Johansson andFloyd Pattersonwasgreat.Butinsheertermsofthequalityoffightersin thecategory.Theerawouldpaleintocomparison whencompared against thesixtiesandseventies.Thiswasperhapswaswhen thedivisionwasdefinitely atitsbestintermsof thequalitiesof thefighterswithinthedivision.
We allknowthepraise,ridicule andhatredheapeduponAliforonereasonoranother.Andthepurposeof thepieceisn’t toholdswayover thereaderandtoaskfor theirpredispositionastothecourseofactiontakenbyhimastohisbeliefs.Onecanassumethathewasaffordedthoserightsasacitizen ? Likeitornotwe have tolivewithit.Menoflesserstaturehavedonefarworse.