12 rounds of trivia on Muhammad Ali to mark day when The Greatest had his last fight

This Is Local London: Muhammad Ali, known as The Greatest Muhammad Ali, known as The Greatest

Legendary boxer Muhammad Ali’s last fight was on this day back in 1981.

At the age of 39 he tussled with Trevor Berbick for 10 rounds and was defeated in a unanimous decision by the judges.

This was the official end to his career but it is said that the end was actually when he suffered a loss against Larry Holmes the previous year.

It was a disappointing end to an amazing career during which Ali won 56 of 61 professional bouts, 37 victories through knockouts and 19 decisions. Four of the five losses were down to judges’ decisions and he was only ever knocked out once in his career.

To mark the day The Greatest last fought let’s go 12 rounds (of trivia) with these facts about his life and career:

  • Ali’s interest in boxing was ignited by the theft of his new bike when he was 12 which led to him meeting a police officer who gave boxing lessons at a local community centre. Ali wanted to “whip whoever stole his bike" but never got the chance, fortunately for the thief.
  • In 1960 he won Olympics gold in Rome as a light heavyweight. He was 18 at the time and had already won numerous amateur titles in America. He turned pro after the Games.
  • He ended up throwing his gold medal into the Ohio River in protest at being refused service at a diner because of his skin colour after he returned to the USA.
  • He became world heavyweight champion for the first of three times in 1964, aged 22. It came after he defeated Sonny Liston in a huge upset for the sport. In the same year he changed his name from Cassius Clay and joined the Nation of Islam. He converted to Sunni Islam in 1975.
  • As a conscientious objector to the Vietnam War, Ali was in trouble with the authorities in 1967 for refusing US military service. He was convicted on draft evasion charges and sentenced to five years in prison, although he stayed out of jail. He was also stripped of his boxing title and was out of the sport for almost four years. Eventually in 1971 his conviction was overturned on appeal.
  • Ali suffered his first professional loss in 1971 after the ‘Fight of the Century’ against Joe Frazier, but he went on to become heavyweight champion for a second and third time in 1974 and 1978 by winning the ‘The Rumble in the Jungle’ against George Foreman and later beating Leon Spinks on a points decision.
  • In 1978 the US city of Louisville dedicated Muhammad Ali Boulevard to him. Around a dozen street signs were subsequently pinched by memorabilia hunters!
  • During his professional career Ali had fights in 12 different countries and also fought 12 world champions (losing to just two of them).
  • Ali’s 1975 bout with underdog Chuck Wepner is said to have inspired Sylvester Stallone’s classic Rocky movie. The character of Rocky Balboa, was based on Wepner for the courage he showed in going the full distance against the champ (albeit losing in the end) while Rocky’s opponent Apollo Creed was based on Ali.
  • ‘Bad guy’ wrestler Gorgeous George was the inspiration for Ali’s flamboyant behaviour and taunting of opponents. Ali once said: "I saw 15,000 people comin’ to see this man get beat, and his talking did it. I said, this is a good idea!"
  • Ali was a guest referee or ‘special enforcer’ for the World Wrestling Federation’s first Wrestlemania extravaganza in 1985.
  • Cassius O’Clay? He is reported to have Irish roots, with his great-grandfather being from the Emerald Isle. Abe Grady is said to have gone to the US in the 1860s and married an African-American woman.

Do you think Muhammad Ali is the greatest sportsman of all time? Have you seen any of his bouts and was he really the best fighter there’s ever been? Add your comments below.


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