Ali Celebrates 69th Birthday!
By Ken Hissner, Doghouse Boxing (Jan 17, 2011)
Ali was proclaimed to be the greatest heavyweight of all time per Ali himself! He didn’t stand alone in that opinion as he celebrates his 69th birthday on January 17th which is acknowledged to be a holiday for most in the United States in honoring Rev. Martin Luther King! King was one of the great preachers during an era of unrest in this country. King may have been better known for his activism and his “I Had a Dream” speech that still gives most of us chills upon hearing.

Last summer Ali along with Wilbert “Skeeter” McClure and Eddie Crook celebrated their 40th anniversary in winning Gold Medals at the 1960 Rome Olympic Games. Crook has passed on while this writer’s friend “Skeeter” McClure enjoys retirement in New England.

Ali won the 1959 and 1960 AAU light heavyweight championships prior to winning the light heavyweight Gold at the Olympics. He compiled a 99-8 amateur record which NJ HOF President Henry Hascup has confirmed. His professional career started in 1960 and went onto winning the heavyweight title upsetting Charles “Sonny” Liston, 35-1, in February 25, 1964, in 7 rounds at the Convention Hall, in Miami Beach. It was his 20th fight and 16th by knockout.

Ali defended his title around the world in such places as Toronto, Canada, London, England, Frankfurt, Germany, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Manila, Philippines and Hato Rey, Puerto Rico. He also fought in Zurich, Switzerland, Nassau, Bahamas, Kinshasa, Congo (Zaire), Jakarta, Indonesia, Dublin, Ireland, Vancouver and British Columbia (CAN). For a man who didn’t like flying he sure got around. His final record was 56-5, with 37 knockouts and 19 title defenses. He became the most recognized person in the world barring none.

It was told that Ali got out of a limo in Newark, NJ, and had such an effect on 2 gang’s fighting that they all stopped and ran over to Ali. He also helped free 2 political prisoners in Iran who were in risk of execution.

In his hometown of Louisville, KY, today stands the Muhammad Ali Center which opened in November of 2005. It serves as both a cultural attraction and international education center. Though he suffers from Parkinson’s disease which was diagnosed in 1984, he still travels with his wife Lonnie. In 2005 he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from then President George W. Bush during ceremonies at the White House.

The Ali’s live in Scottsdale, AZ. In 2007 they purchased a house in Jefferson County, KY. In September of 1999 Ali was named “Kentucky Athlete of the Century” by the Kentucky Athletic hall of Fame.

In November of 2002 Ali went to Afghanistan as “U.N. Messenger of Peace”. He was in Kabul for a three day goodwill mission as a special guest of the United Nations. So let’s celebrate not only one of the greatest boxers of all time but one of the greatest humanitarians of all time in wishing him “Happy Birthday 69, Muhammad Ali”!

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