Ali Celebrates 68th Birthday today!
By Ken Hissner (Jan 12, 2010) DoghouseBoxing  
It was just 9 days ago one of Ali’s greatest admirers, Elvis Presley’s birthday was celebrated on January 8th. The Pop King would have been 75. Today the one who called himself “The Greatest”, Muhammad Ali celebrates his 68th birthday today, January 17th!

Elvis who portrayed a boxer in the movie “Kid Galahad’ once presented Ali with a full length silk robe with the name “People’s Champ” on the back. Presley himself was one who performed in the Martial Arts field so he had great respect of Ali’s accomplishments and abilities. Where they parted ways was Presley served in the military and Ali refused induction and gave up about 3 years of his boxing career in turn. They were a pair of “southern boy’s” with Presley from Tennessee and Ali from Kentucky.

Ali turned a loss in the amateurs to Marine Percy Price, Jr., in the Olympic trials to a spot on the team at a lower weight. While Price lost in the second round, Ali went onto win his Gold Medal at the Rome Olympics in 1960. This year will mark his 50th anniversary since that event.

Love him or hate him Ali was one of a kind. Some compared him to the flamboyant “Galveston Giant” Jack Johnson who ruled the heavyweight division from 1908 to 1915. Ali in comparison won the title from Sonny Liston in 1964 and relinquished it in 1967. In a comeback attempt to win back the title he lost his first fight to “Smokin” Joe Frazier in 1971. Frazier celebrated his 66th birthday on the 12th of this month. Born in South Carolina he moved to Philadelphia taking up his boxing career. Frazier won Gold at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo.

It wasn’t until 1974 that Ali regained the title stopping “Big” George Foreman in Africa. Foreman, another Gold Medalist, won at Mexico City in 1968. Foreman celebrated his 61st birthday on January 10th. He was and still is a Texan. Ali held the title until 1978 when he lost to Olympic Gold Medalist Leon Spinks, who won his at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal. Spinks was from St. Louis. Before the year was out Ali won the title back in defeating Spinks. He never defended the title. Overall he had a 56-5 (37) record with 18 title defenses. One of those defenses was over another Gold Medal winner and former world champion Floyd Patterson who won his in 1952 at Helsinki. Patterson would have celebrated his 75th birthday on January 4th. Born in Waco, North Carolina, he moved to Brooklyn where he began his boxing career.
As you can see there were many similarities between Ali, Foreman, Frazier and Patterson. All Olympic Gold Medalists, born in the south and all to become heavyweight champion of the world. Where they separate is there was and may only be one Muhammad Ali, the self proclaimed “Greatest of All Time”! Happy Birthday champ!

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Ken at: kenhissner@yahoo.com

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