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Focus On Him (5 of 8)
Series: John the Baptist
Our society makes much of heroes. It is little wonder, then, that athletes delight in seeing their names become household words,
that movie stars strive for as much publicity as possible, and that
business tycoons have their names inscribed on products, buildings and stadiums. People like to promote themselves because it feeds their egos and makes them feel important.
Cassius Clay became a boxer at the age of 12 and had won six Kentucky Gold Gloves while in High School and was allowed to graduate despite his poor grades. His principle once told the staff
that Cassius would someday be "this school's claim to fame."
Clay later joked about his poor academic record by saying,
"I said I was the Greatest not the smartest."
At the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome he won the gold medal as
light heavyweight boxer. He then turned professional and quickly
became famous for his unorthodox style, his spectacular results and his self-promotion. A few months after the Olympics he won
his first professional fight. During the next three he complied a record of 19 wins, of which 15 were knockouts, and no defeats.
He made a name for himself as the famous "Louisville Slugger" by composing poems predicting in which round he would knock out his opponent. He like to sing his own praises with sayings like:
"I'm young, I'm pretty, I'm fast and no-one can beat me."
"I float like a butterfly , sting like a bee,
I am the Greatest, there's no body like me."
As a result of his victories he was the number one contender for Sonny Liston's heavyweight title. Most sports writers didn't give Clay a chance against the heavyweight champ. But when the bell rang for the seventh round Liston didn't come out claiming that his shoulder had become dislocated. Clay leapt out of this corner, proclaiming himself the "King of the World" and demanded that the sports writers eat th ...
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