“Look at me. Not a mark on me. I could never be an underdog. I am too great. Hail the champion!” The words spoken by the new heavyweight champion of the world in the press conference that followed the fight, that can only be described as one of the greatest sporting events in history. The fight was between Cassius Clay a.k.a. Muhammad Ali, the undersized up and comer who was challenging Sunny Liston for the boxing heavyweight title. Sunny Liston was considered one of the greatest fighters of all time, and earned the nickname “Big Bear” because he was an enormous opponent, so enormous that he only fought six minutes over thirty five months because other fighters wouldn’t dare step into the ring with the Big Bear. Cassius on the other hand was a loud mouthed undersized fighter who had gotten his lights knocked out multiple times prior.
Despite the poster’s advertisement as the “greatest fight in history”, at the time it was just another chance to watch Liston pound the stuffing out of another grown man. Clay was supposed to lose. He knew it and so did Liston, but the person we now regard as one of the greatest athletes of all time came in to weigh in mocking and heckling Liston the entire time and Clay referred to himself as the champ before the fight where he was the 7-1 favorite to lose began. The next day Clay gained the title of heavyweight champion of the world after a seventh round technical knockout.
How did this guy beat Sunny Liston. The answer to that is incredible boxing ability for one and confidence for another. One of the things that made Cassius Clay a.k.a. Muhammad Ali one of the greatest athletes of history was his confidence. Even before the fight Clay, nicknamed The Louisville Lip for his trash talking, said that Liston was the one that should have been scared and that he was already the champ. As opposed to being some cowering weakling he took Liston head on in a fight that others were too scared to take.
I am an ordinary man who worked hard to develop the talent I was given. I believed in myself, and I believe in the goodness of others – Muhammad Ali
The intention of my sharing the story of Ali’s fight with Liston, was too show that you need to believe in yourself if others won’t because the first step in achieving greatness—is to believe that you can be great. In case you want to watch the fight in its entirety, including his comments after, look at the link below.