Where it all began.
Cassius Clay was born on January 17, 1942 in Louisville, Kentucky. One day, he would become more commonly known as Muhammed Ali, and during his childhood, while out riding his bike, events unfolded that changed the true course of it.
His brand-new $60 red and white Schwinn bicycle that he cherished was parked outside the Columbia Auditorium, but it was stolen while he was inside. Cassius Clay went in to report this to a police officer named Joe Martin.
Joe Martin was a boxing enthusiast. He ran the Columbia Gym. While listening to a young Clay threaten to “whoop him,” whoever stole that bike, Officer Martin advised, ‘You better learn how to box first.’ Joe Martin invited young Clay to his gym in the basement of that auditorium. At first, Clay wasn’t interested. But, after a while he took Martin up on his offer.
Ali never got that bicycle back, but his life was never the same, either. Joe Martin trained Ali and remained at his side throughout his six-year amateur career.
Once he stepped through the doors of Columbia Gym for the first time, he would return day after day and eventually become the hardest, most dedicated fighter there.