Muhammad Ali’s Childhood:
Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr., was named after his father. (Cassius Marcellus Clay Sr.) Born to Cassius Sr. and Odessa on January 17 1942, in Louisville, Kentucky, he had his first tryst with boxing at a very early age! His father painted billboards to earn money. His mother, Odessa Grady Clay, was a housewife.

The success story of Muhammad Ali began with a simple incident. In 1954, when Ali was only 12 years old, his bike was stolen when he was with a friend at the Columbia auditorium. Boiling with rage, young Cassius encountered Joe Martin, a police officer. It was Martin who first advised him to learn boxing before he thought about fighting with anybody for revenge! This was the time when Clay began training with Fred Stoner. With Stoner’s training, Clay then won six Kentucky Golden Gloves title and many more medals. Young Cassius thus began dreaming about being a heavyweight champion at an early age.

As a teenager, this boy completely dedicated himself to boxing. He practiced with unmatched fervor. His constant practice set him off from other boys. The talent and hard work is what helped him to bag all the medals even before he turned 18 years of age. With 100 wins in his amateur career, Cassius returned home to Louisville only to be shocked with unfair treatment. Cassius was refused service at a local restaurant despite all the extraordinary feats.

Muhammad Ali’s childhood was thus not an ordinary life. It was the beginning that laid the foundation of a success story to inspire many others that choose this path.
Aliʻs childhood home in Louisville, Kentucky

First Step to Greatness

Ali at the age of 12
Louisville, Kentucky - 1954. It was at this age that Cassius Clay, as he was then known, became interested in boxing. His bicycle was stolen and he reported the theft to the nearest policeman, Joe Martin, who happened to be a boxing coach.