2016 has seen famous people pass from this life, David Bowie shocked the world when he passed as did Prince. These two musicians were individuals who were followed, they were not followers of others. To be a leader who is looked up to is rare. Many people look to the past and copy idols. Not David Bowie or Prince along with these two people I would like to add Muhammad Ali. An African American boxer who was never intimidated by the vile treatment of the African American at his time. He was a great orator who would speak out against the treatment of African Americans, joining the nation of Islam and changing his name from Cassius Clay to Muhammad Ali.
Thomas Hauser with the co-operation of Muhammad Ali wrote the book Muhammad Ali His Life and Times. On page 19 Muhammad Ali said;
“When I started boxing, all I really wanted was someday to buy my mother and father a house and own a nice big car for myself. I figured if I could turn pro and get on Saturday night fights, I could make four thousand dollars just for one night. Then my dreams started to grow. In school, sometimes I’d pretend they were announcing my name over the loudspeaker system, saying ‘Cassius Clay, heavyweight champion of the world. ‘ Other times, I’d draw a picture of a jacket on a piece of paper, like a high school football jacket; only on the back I’d write ‘National Golden Gloves Champion’ or ‘Cassius Clay, World Heavyweight Champ.’
“Joe Martin was the man who started me in boxing, but sometimes I trained with a black man named Fred Stoner. I trained six days a week and never drank or smoked a cigarette. The only thing I ever did like drugs was twice I took the cap off a gas tank as smelled the gas smelled the gas, which made me dizzy. Boxing kept me out of trouble.”
On page 28, following the 1960 Olympics, Cassius Clay was perfectly positioned for a love-in with the American people (remember at this time there was apartheid in America and South Africa). Young handsome, entertaining, and gifted, he radiated the aura of an All-American boy. When a Soviet reporter asked how it felt to win a gold medal for his country when there were restaurants in the United States he couldn’t eat in, Clay looked his questioner in the eye and answered, ” Tell your readers we got qualified people working on that problem, and I’m not worried about the outcome. To me, the USA is the best country in the world, including yours.”
On page 30 his father Cassius Clay, Sr. Said “there were a lot of people who wanted to take him over when he came back from the Olympics. And I saw he took take care of himself in the ring, but I wanted to see that he was well taken care of out of it too. He was underage, and didn’t know exactly how to handle himself in business.
The Louisville Sponsoring Group was a collection of eleven white men between the ages of twenty-five and seventy, ten of whom were millionaires or heirs to old-line Kentucky fortunes. William Faversham, the eleventh, bought the group together. A former investment counselor and vice-president of Brown-Formant Distillers Corporation, Faversham estimated the cost of launching Clay as a professional at $25,000 to $30,000. Accordingly, each member of the syndicate was asked to pay $2,000, except for Faversham, who was given a $1,400 discount for his organizational efforts.
The contract signed by Cassius Clay and cosigned by his parents was fair and generous for it’s time. Clay received a $10,000 signing bonus and , for the first two years, a guaranteed draw of $333 a month against earnings.
Muhammad Ali joined the organization The Nation of Islam. Attallah Shabazz daughter of Malcolm X said “I don’t think the Nation Of Islam was a religious organizational at all. When Cassius Clay, which is what he was called then, joined the Nation, he underwent a social and political awakening.
“My father’s relationship with Cassius Clay was not as a recruiter for the Nation so much as it was one individual meeting another and saying, ‘why don’t you join me in this organizational so you can have direction and a family of supporters.’
Muhammad Ali as we all know went on to be arguably the greatest sportsman of all time.