This Is What Happens When You Steal Muhammad Ali's Bike

Muhammad Ali 1966/Unknown /Wikimedia/CC-SA 3.0


No one would know Muhammad Ali as “The Greatest” had a kid not stolen Cassius Clay’s bike in 1955.

As a child, Clay took so much pride in his brand new $60 bike. One day, he rode his bike to the fair at Columbia Gym, parked, and went on to have a good time. When he came back, his bike was gone.

Clay was furious. “If I find the kid who stole my bike, I’ll whoop him,” he said aloud. Joe Martin, a police officer heard him. Wanting to help Clay channel that anger with exercise, he invited Clay to his boxing gym to take some classes.

Clay was good. Real good. After only six weeks of training, he won his first match.

He shined as an amateur fighter. By 18, he won over 100 fights including six Kentucky Golden Gloves titles, two national Golden Gloves titles and two Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) titles.

After all of his wins, he wanted to go pro, but his coach, Martin, convinced him to go for Olympic gold instead.

He succeeded through the qualifying rounds, but his fear of flying nearly deterred him from competing in the 1960 Olympic Games. “Your whole future depends on this one plane ride to Rome, Martin told Clay. Clay understood the stakes and went to Rome. He left an Olympic champion.

Days before Clay’s first professional fight, offers to manage him poured in. He eventually settled on a syndicate of 11 businessmen who offered an impressive deal: $4,000 yearly salary, a $10,000 bonus and a 50-50 split of the purse bid.

Clay continued to dominate, winning his first six fights. Everyone wanted to see him fight -- fans and detractors alike. For a sport that was losing its thrill, Clay brought it back. For first time in a long time, boxing was exciting again. And it all started with a kid stealing Clay’s bike.

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