Muhammad Ali’s boxing career began after his bike was stolen and he sought revenge. He started training with Joe Martin and won his first fight six weeks later. He went on to win a gold medal at the Olympics and became world heavyweight champion at 22. His gloves from that fight sold for $836,000.
In 1954, 12-year-old Cassius Clay rode his bicycle to a community event in his Louisville neighborhood. They were giving out free popcorn and candy. But when he left the Columbia Auditorium, his red-and-white Schwinn he was gone; it had been stolen. A passerby suggested he speak to Joe Martin, a police officer who ran a boxing gym in the basement of the auditorium in his spare time. With angry tears in his eyes, Cassius told Martin, “If I find the guy who took my bike, I’ll beat him up.” The boxing coach replied: “Can you fight? You should know how to fight if you want to hit someone.” That day, the boy who would become Muhammad Ali began the path to boxing superstardom.
A world title 10 years later:
Just six weeks after starting boxing lessons at Martin’s gym, Clay won his first fight via split decision.
After graduating from high school, the 18-year-old fighter won the light heavyweight gold medal at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome.
In 1964, at the age of 22, Clay shocked the sports world by defeating world heavyweight champion Sonny Liston. Fifty years later, an anonymous buyer purchased the gloves he used in that fight for $836,000 USD, more than the $630,000 USD Clay earned for his TKO victory.