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Is Muhammad Ali the most influential athlete of all time?

SC Centerpiece: "SportsCenter" debates Muhammad Ali's merits as the most influential athlete of all time on the 50th anniversary of Ali's (then Cassius Clay) bout with Sonny Liston.

Is Ali The Most Influential Athlete Ever?

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hytorcjj February 26 2014 at 6:27 PM

He definitely was the greatest

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edwardg5 February 26 2014 at 9:56 AM

He called Joe Frazier, a kind and decent family man, a ******. Joe didn't deserve that. I'll never forgove Ali for that. And don't tell me that was fight hype because Joe felt it and he was on the receiving end of it. Ali did influence me greatly, though. I will hate that awful word for the rest of my life.

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dukethepearl50 February 26 2014 at 9:53 AM

WOW!!! It's been 50 YEARS!!! I remember sitting in the living room with my with my parents listening to the fight on the radio. I was 13 (going on 14) and saw my parent's jaws dropped in the discription of the 3rd Round, where 'Cassius Clay' began his first real assault on Sonny Liston. I remember we all sitting on the edge of our seats when a half blind from ointment in his eyes 'Cassuis Clay' avoided Liston until his vision cleared. And then the rant when Liston sat on his stool. I digress. To the 'question'.

It is almost unfair to pose such a question. Jackie Robinson was the 'Beginning' of the 'Civil Rights Action'. What he endured cannot be qualified into words. 'I' would have 'run out of cheeks' long before him and probably wouldn't have made the 'experiment' successful. Partly why he was 'chosen' by Branch Rickey.

What Cassius Clay did as a fighter was one thing. What Muhammad Ali did as a 'man'....a 'Black Man' is yet another. The case could be made that what he was able to do was done on the back of what Jackie Robinson endured and got World Wide scrutteny. The grounds by which Ali was willing to surrender 3 years of his career to stand up for had major impact socially and culturally to the entire country. I would even go so far as to say it was a catalyst to encourage Curt Flood to challenge the 'Reserve Clause' a few years later in Baseball. He too lost key years to his career but wasn't quite as successful personally as Ali was in regaining his championship status.

Muhammad Ali was genuinely a pivital influence on the generation that followed Jackie Robinson, and I was/am a huge fan. But Jackie, I think, was the shoulders that Ali stood on to impact our society and carrying it to the World Stage.
Just a thought......

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ddstan1120 February 26 2014 at 9:42 AM

It's awfully hard to look past the courageous men and women that participate in paralympics and other sports that were shut out to these people until recently. They are the true heroes and the most influential, in my book.

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jgibman February 26 2014 at 9:36 AM

The stance he took for his convictions was extremely risky in an era of status quo, Jim Crow and limited to no rights in America for ethnic people. Ali instilled pride and strength in the so called African American community. In a currency driven stay in your place society he was willing to walk away from his craft while on top of the game. All of this took place during the civil rights era when assassinations were the order of the day. Even today very few are willing to make that kind of sacrifice.

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Carter February 26 2014 at 8:58 AM

He was one of the greatest COWARDS of all time .

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glers February 26 2014 at 8:55 AM

Yes he was and one of the greatest civil rights spokesman of all time! Ali Bomaye!

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snookhookr February 26 2014 at 8:49 AM

Third....behind Jackie Robinson and Jesse Owens.

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snookhookr February 26 2014 at 8:56 AM

Those of you who are younger don't realize how boring and frustrating to watch Ali's Rope-a-Dope strategy was. 90% of the fight Ali would run and cover up. leaving you screaming at the TV screen. Today, all you see are his hilites. Plus, this era of boxing was EXTREMELY corrupt. Any outcome of a fight could be, and WAS, based on what was best for Don King.

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gov111w February 26 2014 at 8:42 AM

I'm not sure he was the most influential or not, but he certainly was one of the most controversial and entertaining athletes. There is a big difference between influential and entertaining ....

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Generale Leone February 26 2014 at 8:27 AM

My father boxxed in high school and on streets and in WW2. The Italo-American interpretation of Mr. Clay (Ali) is it was OK for him to raise his fists for $$$$, but not OK to protect that priviledge by serving. Gutless is what that is. Also, the Sonny Liston fight was a fix. Go back and watch it. My admiration for pro fighters (boxers) was in order (Louis/Marciano (tied). Frazier, Leonard, couple more. Ali's style of fighting the establishment had a couple goods, but provided a list of items for ghetto kids to cause havoc. I have zero respect for this individual. Italo-Americans were great afficianodos of boxxing. Joe Louis served his country. He was in my fathers platoon. High regards. All business. Kind man. Pity his career ended in the manner of which it did. That's all folks. Influential. Try Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth or Jackie Robinson. Heroes.

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glers February 26 2014 at 9:01 AM

So you think He should of fought in a BS war for a country that wouldn't allow him to drink from the same water fountain as a white man,?

Joe Louis fought in a legitimate war The Viet Nam war is a stain on US history anyone who stood up against the Viet Nam War was a hero in my eyes!

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Prowl February 26 2014 at 9:20 AM

You admire those who towed the line, said the things you wanted to hear. Ali stood up and said I do not need to bow down, I do not have to fight/ kill another man because american companies have an economic interest there. you want to say that the Liston fight was a fix, perhaps that makes you feel better, feel more secure in your beliefs to think so, but on the other hand.. No one beat Liston did they and Liston never recovered from those losses.You seem to forget too that the Italians came to America and lived in the ghetto. That being said I will say that Marciano also provided a list of items for ghetto kids to cause havoc.. but it's ok they were Italian ghetto kids so in your mind that gives them a clean slate. And while Americans spitted on the Viet Nam Vets and to this day try to sweep them under the rug, yet on the other side of their mouth, about support our Vets. Yet at the same time I have seen Ali stop along the road or highway, pick up a serviceman hitchhiking back home, take them home with him or to his parent's house.. feed them and then buy them a ticket home. Seen him come home broke, because he give his money away to people who are having hardships, (real or otherwise) I have seen Ali meet with kings, queens, rulers, president and popes, and then turn around and go walking through slums to meet the people there, spending time with them and entertaining them, treating them with the respect and dignity few have given to them. And always, always stopping to spend time with a child. If you want to see the real Ali. watch him when he is with children, with the poor, with the infirmed, the elderly. the boxing was but a show, a vehicle to allow him the chance to make changes in the world.

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