Chicago Birthed a Champion

Chicago has once again taken a win, as it has been revealed that it was home to another legend. Cassius Clay was, in fact, born in Louisville, KY. But, boxing champion, Muhammad Ali, was born and raised on the South side of Chicago.

Ali (Clay) had been stripped of his boxing title, after refusing to fight in the Vietnam War, according to the Chicago Tribune. During that time, he had been somewhat disowned by those who had once looked up to him.

Feeling ostracized, Ali found solace in the arms of the Nation of Islam, on the South side of Chicago, in the 1960’s.  It was during that time, in Chicago, when a transformation took place. Initially, Ali had tried to blend in. He mostly hung out with friends on Stony Island Avenue and ate at the Nation of Islam’s bakery on 79th street, which is where he met the woman, who would soon become his second wife.

After marrying Khalilah Camacho, in 1964, he continued to live a somewhat ordinary life, which was a bit difficult, considering the fact that he was a heavy weight champion. There was no way Ali was capable of hiding the enormity of his fame. His heavyweight championship belt was locked in a trophy case, in the middle of his living room. Celebrities, like members of the Motown singing group the Temptations, came by for dinner. He shared some beautiful memories in Chicago.

Unfortunately, not all of the memories were positive. “These exile years were tough for him. He was growing…and learning about life. All of this was during the struggle of the civil rights period…”(Chicago Tribune). There was five year jail sentence hanging over his head, because of his refusal to fight in the war. There was also a skeptical fire that took place at his first apartment, as reported by the Chicago Tribune.

Fortunately, though, he had the support of the Nation of Islam. With its support, he developed a voice just as strong as his fists. He had begun to show his dedication to the Nation of Islam by voicing his opposition to war. He had also become a minister in the Nation of Islam.

Even the people of the South side showed great appreciation for him. He was very active in the community, just by simply performing good deeds.

It was on the South side, where he had received life-changing news about his conviction. He had been vindicated of the charge. Shortly after, the country welcomed Ali back with open arms. The main take-away is, during Ali’s most challenging season, Chicago was there. Chicago birthed one of America’s most cherished champions.