When he was only 12 years old, someone stole Cassius Clay’s bike.
Clay complained to a police officer. “If I find the guy who took my bike,” he said, “I’m gonna whup him.”
As fate would have it, the officer also operated a boxing gym in his spare time. After admiring Clay’s tenacity, an offer was extended to the boy to learn to fight in his gym.
And so the champion Cassius Clay, later known as Muhammed Ali was born.
On a trip down south this summer, I was fortunate enough to make a stop at the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville. What an amazing place! 4 floors of exhibits, artwork, and artifacts that represent the great Ali's life as both a boxer and a humanitarian. There were displays that highlighted Ali's core principles of life, like conviction, dedication, giving, and confidence. Beautiful quotes and artwork of Ali are at every twist and turn. You can watch 15 of Ali's favorite fights in a ringside seat. As for what I think about today, I will remember the torch that Ali carried at the Atlanta Olympics.
As I wandered through the gift shop, there were three distinct Muhammad Ali books that caught my eye. These three titles should be in every school library, as they represent Ali in very unique ways.
Ali, Muhammad. The Soul of a Butterfly: Reflections on Life's Journey. Simon & Schuster. 2013. 269p.
Ali, Muhammad. The Greatest: My Own Story. Graymalkin Media. 2015. 398p.
Myers, Walter Dean. The Greatest: Muhammad Ali. Scholastic Paperback. 2001. 172p.
In The Soul of a Butterfly, Ali takes readers on a spiritual journey through the seasons of life, from childhood to the present, and shares the beliefs that have served him well. My Own Story is a more comprehensive, traditional autobiographical look at the fighter’s life and accomplishments, while Walter Dean Myer’s book is a fantastic biography with similar information, but aimed at the traditional young adult audience-written at the appropriate level.
During the Olympics, remember this great man, and if you get down to Louisville, you MUST SEE the Muhammad Ali Center!