There is no question that boxing is one of the most brutal and unforgiving sports out there, with one punch enough to cause irreversible devastation.
In this poll of the greatest boxers of all time, we have included some of the finest fighters ever to grace the ring. But the one that stood out amongst them all was a man that could float like a butterfly and sting like a bee – Muhammad Ali.
The man from Louisville, Kentucky, stormed to victory with a 55.9% of the vote. Tyson Fury came second with 23.5%, while Mike Tyson and Larry Holmes took 19.6% and 1% respectively.
The outcome was widely accepted on Twitter, but many believe that three-time world champion Lennox Lewis, warranted at least a place in the poll. Some even thought that the London-born fighter should have won it.
But in truth, no man has ever come close to matching Ali in terms of his impact both in and out of the ring.
He burst onto the global stage at the 1960 Olympics in Rome, winning the light heavyweight title following a victory over Zbigniew Pietrzkowski of Poland.
Ali became heavyweight champion of the world four years later with a seventh round technical knockout win over Sonny Liston.
He became the youngest man at the time to take the title away from a reigning champion at the age of 22, before making headlines away from the sport in a turbulent time for his country.
The USA was staging a war against communism in Vietnam, and Ali refused to serve in the army on the grounds of his religious beliefs.
Following his arrest, Ali was stripped of his world title and boxing license, and even sentenced to five years in prison.
However, he remained free while appealing his conviction and returned to the ring in 1970 with a win over Jerry Quarry, before his conviction was finally overturned a year later.
In 1971, Ali lost his first showdown with Joe Frazier in a gripping 15 rounds, known as the 'fight of the century’. Frazier emerged victorious by flooring Ali with a left hook. Even though Ali recovered, the judges gave the fight to Frazier.
Three years later, Ali gained revenge at the ‘Thrilla in Manila’, with Frazier’s corner throwing in the towel after the 14th round.
Ali showed his mettle that year against George Foreman. The “Rumble in the Jungle” ultimately went Ali’s way with an eighth round knockout to reclaim his title.
There was still time for more Ali greatness. After losing his title to Leon Spinks in February 1978, Ali won the rematch that September to become the first boxer to win the heavyweight championship three times.
His legacy and achievements in and out of the sport are unlikely to be matched.
Featured Image Credit: Strongbow
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