Muhammad Ali holds an unwavering level of admiration and respect for what he accomplished in and out of the ring. Ali reached the mountaintop of success with his craft while opening the door for many athletes who followed him over the last several decades. However, he had some misgivings away from boxing that he remained unapologetic for his actions.
Muhammad Ali’s illustrious boxing career
Muhammad Ali spent more than two decades in the squared circle, where he established an incredible legacy.
Ali was much more than a boxer as he was the definition of an entertainer. He dominated the ring with his skill, while his legendary trash-talking brought a must-see factor to every single one of his fights.
Ali had numerous memorable matches over his career as his trilogy with Joe Frazier, “Rumble in the Jungle” with George Foreman. His time in the ring also fueled a particular lifestyle away from it all.
Muhammad Ali vigorously refused to apologize for cheating on his wives
Ali’s time away from his craft was quite busy as he garnered a large family with four marriages leading to nine children between his relationships. However, it saw him behave in a manner that would draw much criticism for his actions.
Extremely prominent among that was his relationships with women outside his significant others. During the 1970s, Ali touched upon the topic voicing that he didn’t believe that he needed to apologize for his infidelities. (H/T Oregon Live)
“I got three or four lady friends here,” he told the New York Times in the early 1970s. “I can see some controversy if she was white, but she’s not…This is going too far. They got me for the draft. They got on me for my religion. They got on me for all sorts of things. But they shouldn’t be able to get on me for having a girlfriend.”
Ali’s mental approach to the situation shouldn’t come as much of a surprise as his interactions with other women are well-documented. He reportedly had a “steady stream of women” that included prostitutes directed toward him while he was training camp preparing for fights.
In Jonathan Eig’s “Ali: A Life,” he outlined many instances of the famed boxers’ dealings with women. As ESPN pinpointed, Eig wrote that Ali had an affair with Veronica Porche and another woman while he was married to Belinda Boyd before his fight against George Foreman in 1974.
Although it’s not a part of his legacy in the ring, it provides a clearer image of the person he was outside of his craft.
Legacy remains forever intact
Muhammad Ali certainly has his fair share of misgivings outside the ring, but it hasn’t impacted his overall legacy.
Ali holds the reputation as one of the greatest professional athletes in sports history. He was transformative in creating a platform for professional athletes to speak about issues well beyond their respective sport.
Ali experienced struggles well beyond racism, as his choice in religion, refusal to fight for the U.S. Army and outspokenness often drew ire. He wasn’t always beloved during his career, but he has garnered greater appreciation from the sports world over the years. Ali played a pivotal part in opening doors for those that followed after him.
He undoubtedly had his flaws and mistakes that also played a part in defining him as a person. However, that hasn’t overshadowed his tremendous impact and legacy in sports history.