Muhammad Ali listening attentively to Joe Martin.
Six weeks after that fateful day, having lost his precious, beloved bicycle, 12-year-old Clay got into the ring with another boy his age. He was a white boy and Cassius Clay enjoyed his first victory.
As the next several years of his training unfolded, Joe Martin took a closer interest in this young protégé. He became quickly impressed by Clay’s incredible speed and swiftness. His strength was also something. Martin noticed how Cassius Clay was able to take punches and jabs without losing his cool, which was not too common with many other young fighters.
As he moved into the amateur ring, he won 16 Kentucky Golden Gloves Championships as well as two nationals. By the year young Clay graduated high school, he already notched 100 victories to just eight defeats. In the 1950s, he was appearing on a local television program called Tomorrow’s Champions where he received four dollars for each televised fight.
During the week he was relentless hitting the bags and strengthening his swing and on the weekends he was taking on all challengers at amateur tournaments across the country.