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Muhammad Ali the Fighter: Speed, Stamina and Psychological Warfare

Asked to describe the man he trained for over 20 years, Angelo Dundee shook his head in wonder and replied, “Being with Muhammad was like riding a comet,” and a comet he was. First despised then beloved, Ali was a warrior for racial justice and peace. He was the first athlete to transcend sports. But for all his transcendence outside of the ring, we should never forget what a transcendent performer he was in the ring.

Then Cassius Clay, Ali won the Olympic Gold medal in Rome in 1960. As he moved up the heavyweight ranks toward a title shot, the fighter known as the “Louisville Lip” used to boast, “I’m so fast that last night I turned off the light switch in my hotel room and was in bed before the room was dark.” Some fighters have quicksilver hands, others flash dance foot-speed, but Ali was lightning from top to bottom.

In the 20s, Gene Tunney proved that speed and lateral movement could defang a mauler like Jack Dempsey, but no heavyweight before or after the Great One could dance like the balletic Ali...


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