Tag: African-American heavyweight champion

R.I.P. Muhammad Ali, 74, Boxing Legend, Self-Determination Icon and Greatest Of All Time

Muhammad Ali (photo via express.co.uk)
Muhammad Ali (photo via express.co.uk)

article by Robert Lipsyte via nytimes.com

Muhammad Ali, the three-time world heavyweight boxing champion who helped define his turbulent times as the most charismatic and controversial sports figure of the 20th century, died on Friday. He was 74.

His death was confirmed by Bob Gunnell, a family spokesman.

Ali was the most thrilling if not the best heavyweight ever, carrying into the ring a physically lyrical, unorthodox boxing style that fused speed, agility and power more seamlessly than that of any fighter before him.

But he was more than the sum of his athletic gifts. An agile mind, a buoyant personality, a brash self-confidence and an evolving set of personal convictions fostered a magnetism that the ring alone could not contain.

Ali was as polarizing a superstar as the sports world has ever produced — both admired and vilified in the 1960s and ’70s for his religious, political and social stances. His refusal to be drafted during the Vietnam War, his rejection of racial integration at the height of the civil rights movement, his conversion from Christianity to Islam and the changing of his “slave” name, Cassius Clay, to one bestowed by the Nation of Islam, were perceived as serious threats by the conservative establishment and noble acts of defiance by the liberal opposition.

Loved or hated, he remained for 50 years one of the most recognizable people on the planet.

In later life Ali became something of a secular saint, a legend in soft focus. He was respected for having sacrificed more than three years of his boxing prime and untold millions of dollars for his antiwar principles after being banished from the ring; he was extolled for his un-self-conscious gallantry in the face of incurable illness, and he was beloved for his accommodating sweetness in public.

In 1996, he was trembling and nearly mute as he lit the Olympic caldron in Atlanta.

That passive image was far removed from the exuberant, talkative, vainglorious 22-year-old who bounded out of Louisville, Ky., and onto the world stage in 1964 with an upset victory over Sonny Liston to become the world champion. The press called him the Louisville Lip. He called himself the Greatest.

Ali also proved to be a shape-shifter — a public figure who kept reinventing his persona.

As a bubbly teenage gold medalist at the 1960 Olympics in Rome, he parroted America’s Cold War line, lecturing a Soviet reporter about the superiority of the United States. But he became a critic of his country and a government target in 1966 with his declaration “I ain’t got nothing against them Vietcong.”

“He lived a lot of lives for a lot of people,” said the comedian and civil rights activist Dick Gregory. “He was able to tell white folks for us to go to hell.”

If there was a supertitle to Ali’s operatic life, it was this: “I don’t have to be who you want me to be; I’m free to be who I want.” He made that statement the morning after he won his first heavyweight title. It informed every aspect of his life, including the way he boxed.

The traditionalist fight crowd was appalled by his style; he kept his hands too low, the critics said, and instead of allowing punches to “slip” past his head by bobbing and weaving, he leaned back from them.

Eventually his approach prevailed. Over 21 years, he won 56 fights and lost five. His Ali Shuffle may have been pure showboating, but the “rope-a-dope” — in which he rested on the ring’s ropes and let an opponent punch himself out — was the stratagem that won the Rumble in the Jungle against George Foreman in 1974, the fight in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) in which he regained his title.

To read full article, go to:

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/04/sports/muhammad-ali-dies.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=image&module=b-lede-package-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news

Philadelphia Pays Tribute To Boxing Icon Joe Frazier With 9-Foot Sculpture

frazier

Sylvester Stallone’s  fictional character, Rocky Balboa, in the memorable film, “Rocky” is what many will conjure up when they think about a Philadelphia-born prizefighter, but the City of Brotherly Love is working on changing that. Artist Stephen Layne is in the final stages of completing a 9-foot tall, 1,800-pound clay sculpture of the late boxing great Joe “Smokin’ Joe” Frazier as a tribute to the hometown champ, according Fox 23.

frazier statueThe former World heavyweight champ, who passed away three years ago at age 67 from liver cancer, was actually born in Beaufort, South Carolina but settled in Philly and called the city home.

The statue project came to fruition two years ago but there were stumbling blocks along the way. The original sculptor passed away and then fundraising efforts to pay for the endeavor hit a brick wall.  Finally, Layne was commissioned to finish the project, after four private donors ponied up $160,000, and the process resumed again in March.

 Frazier, who was an Olympic gold medal winner in 1964, had a stellar boxing career that ended with a record of 32-4-1, with 27 knockouts.  He was, however, most noted for his professional matches with Muhammad Ali, another titan of the ring.  As a matter of fact, two of Frazier’s losses were during matches with Ali, including the legendary 1975 “Thrilla In Manilla.”

The sculpture will be placed about five miles south of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Frazier’s daughter, Weatta Collins, is reportedly working with tourism officials to have her dad’s memorial will be included on sightseeing maps.

The statue will reportedly be unveiled next spring.

article by Ruth Manuel-Logan via newsone.com

Jamie Foxx to Play Mike Tyson in New Film

jamiefoxx & mike tyson

Having already played the corner man to one of the greatest boxers of all-time in “Ali” starring Will Smith, Jamie Foxx looks ready to get back in the ring and take on the lead role to portray one of the most recognizable boxers and sports figures of this generation.

Foxx is attached to play Mike Tyson in an untitled biopic that Terence Winter (“Wolf of Wall Street”, “Sopranos”, “Boardwalk Empire”) is set to script. Rick Yorn, who is Foxx’s manager, will produce the movie.

As one of the most polarizing figures in sports, producers are eager to tackle Tyson’s life story. Known for the power and ferocity he displayed in the ring, Tyson became not just the top boxer at the end of the ’80s but one of the most popular sports figures, with a rough around-the-edges personality he displayed both in and out of the ring.

After losing his heavyweight title in 1990 following the upset loss to Buster Douglas, Tyson’s life began to spin out of control, including a six-year stint in prison after being found guilty of rape. Tyson returned to boxing but never quite returned to form, and became more known for his losses to Evander Holyfied (a match which made headlines when Tyson bit off part of Holyfield’s ear) and Lennox Lewis.

After leaving boxing in 2005, Tyson still had hurdles to overcome, such as his 2003 bankruptcy and the death of his young daughter. In recent years, he has kept out of trouble.

He premiered a one-man show in Vegas in 2012 that he later took to Broadway with the help of Spike Lee and released a memoir “Undisputed Truth” that made the New York Times bestseller list.

Though it’s unknown exactly which parts of Tyson’s life Winter will focus on, he has plenty of material to cover over the past 30 years. HBO tackled the story before with the 1995 pic “Tyson” starring Michael Jai White, but no one has tried to adapt his story as a feature film, though boxing is a popular sport for films.

Foxx played Dwight “Bundini” Brown in “Ali” and also cocky quarterback Willie Beamen in Oliver Stone’s “Any Given Sunday.” Winter, on the other hand, is no stranger to taking on controversial figures after receiving an Oscar nom for adaptation on Wall Street bad boy Jordan Belfort’s life in “The Wolf of Wall Street.”

Foxx can be seen next in Sony’s reboot of “Annie.” He is repped by CAA and LBI Entertainment. Winter is repped by CAA and is currently working on the final season of HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire.”

article by Justin Kroll via Variety.com

Black History Facts of the Day: Feb 3rd

Check out the facts below:

– In 1903 Jack Johnson became the first black Heavyweight Champion

– In 1956 Autherine J. Lucy becomes the first black student to attend the University of Alabama. She was expelled three days later “for her own safety” in response to threats from a mob.

– In 1964 NYC School officials reported that 464,000 Black and Puerto Rican students boycotted New York City public schools. More than 267,000 were absent during second boycott, March 16.

– In 1965  Geraldine McCullough Wins Widener Gold Medal

article via blackenterprise.com

GBN Quote Of The Day

“Don’t let your dreams be dreams.”

— Jack Johnson, the world’s first African-American heavyweight boxing champion