Where to start with boxing? It’s a sport I’ve followed for many years and I could end up writing an untold number of blogs on the topic. I think my passion for the sport was passed on by my father, who was a big fan.
My earliest memories take me back to 1974 and the now well-documented bout between The Champion, George Foreman, and the great Muhammad Ali (formerly known as Cassius Clay). The event was held in Zaire on October 30th and started way after my bedtime, but I know my father listened to the fight live on the radio and told me all about Ail’s victory, by knockout in the 8th round the next day.
Big George as he was known, came into this fight as undefeated Heavyweight Champion of the world and was a big favourite to win by knockout, but the boxing world woke up to the shock news, that he had been defeated. That said, Foreman had a great career and is a two-time world champion, he won 76 fights and lost 5 out of 81, with 68 coming by knockout. He also won a Gold medal at the 1968 Summer Olympics. When he became the Champion for the 2nd time in 1994, he was at that time the oldest person ever to win the title at the age of 45. George, now 70, went on to become an ordained minister and successful businessman. It still makes me smile that today’s generation know more about George Foreman’s Grill, than George Foreman’s boxing 🙂
Muhammad Ali (1986-2016)
Told the world he would float like a butterfly and sting like a bee, and he did! In my opinion, he came about at a time that enabled him to be one of the most significant sporting figures of all time. Outside the ring, he was well known for his stance on many social and political issues and even spent time in jail for his beliefs. Inside the ring, he had 61 fights, won 56, with 37 coming by knockout and like Foreman he was an Olympic gold medallist, winning the title in 1960. It’s not just about the numbers with Ali, he was involved in some of the greatest fights of all time and had one of the biggest personalities, that extended way beyond sport.
The likes of Foreman and Ali fought in an era where there was 1 Championship belt to fight for. If you wanted to be the champ, you had to fight the best in the world. At the moment there are at least 4 major belts in the heavyweight division alone. In the opinion of many, this has made the sport a lot less appealing and I tend to agree. It’s a shame that the best boxers in the world are able to avoid each other and still call themselves a Heavyweight Champion. In recent years the popularity of boxing at all weights has come under pressure from the up and coming sport of cage fighting, who now compete with boxing for sponsors, fans and the fighters themselves. I for one, hope that boxing continues to survive and provide great memories for the generations to come.
I’m sure there will be more to come from me about the world of boxing, so watch this space!
Read more: Matt talks cycling.
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