Muhammad Ali

Why Muhammad Ali received a second Olympic gold medal in 1996

Leave a comment

In one of the last medal ceremonies of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, Muhammad Ali received a gold to replace the one that had been lost decades earlier.

Ali, then 54 and barely able to speak due to Parkinson’s, was given the medal by IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch at halftime of the men’s basketball final between the U.S. and Yugoslavia.

“Thank you very, very much for this,” Ali reportedly told Samaranch before posing for photos with each basketball team, whispering something to Charles Barkley.

At the 1960 Rome Games, Ali, then Cassius Clay, earned light heavyweight gold at age 18.

In his autobiography, “The Greatest,” first published in 1975, Ali wrote that he threw his gold medal over the Jefferson County Bridge in his native Louisville and into the Ohio River in disgust.

It happened minutes after Ali and a friend fought a man from a motorcycle gang who wanted to steal it. Before that, they had been refused service at a Louisville restaurant.

“And I felt no pain and no regret,” Ali wrote of the medal toss. “Only relief, and a new strength.”

That specific story came to be apocryphal, though Ali no doubt faced racism. By the Centennial Games, it was believed the medal had simply been lost. A tragedy, given how much it clearly meant to him.

“I can still see him strutting around the [Athletes’] Village with his gold medal on,” Wilma Rudolph, who swept the 100m, 200m and 4x100m sprints in Rome, said, according to Sports Illustrated in 1992. “He slept with it. He went to the cafeteria with it. He never took it off. No one else cherished it the way he did. His peers loved him. Everybody wanted to see him. Everybody wanted to be near him. Everybody wanted to talk to him. And he talked all the time. I always hung in the background, not knowing what he was going to say.”

MORE: Kurt Angle reflects on Olympic wrestling gold medal

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Boxer Muhammad Ali banned

Getty Images
Leave a comment

British Olympic boxer Muhammad Ali was provisionally suspended after testing positive for a banned steroid on April 21, the International Boxing Association (AIBA) said Thursday.

The case is now in the hands of an AIBA anti-doping panel.

Ali, 21, gained attention after qualifying for the Olympics last year because he shares a name with the legendary American boxer.

Ali, who was born in 1996, the year the other Ali lit the Olympic cauldron, lost his opening flyweight bout in Rio.

“When people used to mention about my name, at first I was like, ‘They are at it again,'” Ali said in February 2016, according to the Yorkshire Post. “But now I am just getting used to it.

“It doesn’t bother me, and I have just got to go out and perform and show them that I am half decent. Hopefully I can be half as good as the real Ali one day.”

Ali is a 2014 Youth Olympic bronze medalist and a 2015 European silver medalist in the 52kg division. He lost in the quarterfinals of the 2015 World Championships.

Ali also grew up training in the same gym as 2004 Olympic silver medalist Amir Khan.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Last U.S. man to win Olympic boxing gold retires

Wladimir Klitschko recalls seeing Muhammad Ali at Atlanta Olympics

Leave a comment

Wladimir Klitschko, the former world heavyweight boxing champion who retired Thursday, smiled when asked to recall his 1996 Atlanta Games experience, saying “the Olympics have changed my life.”

Before going 64-5 as a pro, Klitschko won super heavyweight gold at age 20 at Ukraine’s first Summer Olympics as an independent country. Friday is the 21st anniversary of the gold-medal bout.

“I have great memories,” Klitschko said in an interview two years ago at Madison Square Garden. “Meeting Muhammad Ali. … He was visiting the [athletes’] village, gathering a lot of people. I was one of them. It was exciting to see him in person. I didn’t get a chance to shake his hand.”

Klitschko said that was the first time he was close to Ali. The two Olympic champions met several more times before Ali died June 3, 2016.

Klitschko’s second memory of the Atlanta Games was of the Centennial Olympic Park bombing on July 27.

“One of the memories is the bombing of the disco, where my friends went to, and I was there before,” Klitschko said. “But I left, because I have to be in the schedule and sleep. When I heard the next morning, which was right on the other side of the campus where we were staying, it was really sad. Thankfully, nobody from my team got injured, but they were there.”

Klitschko auctioned his gold medal in 2012 for $1 million, all of which went to his and older brother Vitali Klitschko‘s charity. In a gracious gesture, the buyer reportedly immediately returned the medal back to the Klitschko family after the sale.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

VIDEO: Ali lights 1996 Olympic cauldron