Muhammad Ali Punching Bag
This specimen first appeared in the Fourth Edition of the Mini Museum. We are proud to offer it as a stand-alone specimen!
Above: Front of the Specimen Card
In 1964, a loud, handsome boxer from Louisville, Kentucky shocked the sporting world by beating the reigning heavyweight champion of the world. The new champion's name was Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr. and he was just 22 years old. The day after the fight, Clay announced to the press that he was a Muslim and confirmed rumors that he had joined the Nation of Islam. Ten days later, the champion was introduced to the world by a new name: Muhammad Ali.
This specimen comes from a punching bag formerly used by Muhammad Ali. Known as a double-end or "crazy" bag, this particular type of punching bag is used to improve accuracy, speed, and endurance.
The double-end bag is attached at two ends with floor-to-ceiling elastic straps. This makes the bag highly reactive to punches, which is useful in developing defensive skills, as the bag is prone to "hit back". This particular bag was used by Muhammad Ali during training sessions in the 1970's. The bag was gifted to long-time Louisville sports radio personality and friend of Muhammad Ali, John Ramsey, and later purchased at auction by Mini Museum. It first appeared in the Fourth Edition of the Mini Museum.
Above: Muhammad Ali training in 1973. Note: This is not the same bag. We just like this picture.
Each specimen is hand-punched with a custom-made "punching bag" shaped die. The specimens are then split by hand and reviewed by members of the team.
Above: Preparing specimens in the workshop.
The specimens measure approximately 5x2 millimeters and each is encased inside an acrylic specimen jar and presented in one of our classic, glass-topped riker display boxes. The riker display box measures 4 1/2" x 3 1/2". A small information card is also included, which serves as the certificate of authenticity.
Above: The specimen with Life Magazine October 23, 1970 celebrating Ali's return to the ring.
Please Note: This specimen is quite small and being leather it will fray over time. We recommend keeping it in the acrylic jar to avoid fragmentation.
About Muhammad Ali
"I know where I'm going and I know the truth and I don't have to be what you want me to be. I'm free to be what I want."
~ Cassius Clay, February 26, 1964, the day he defeated Sonny Liston by TKO and became the Heavyweight Champion of the World
Above: In 1960, at age eighteen, Cassius Clay won the Light Heavyweight Gold Medal at the Rome Olympics. Thirty-six years later, Muhammad Ali returned to the Olympic Stage to light the flame during the opening ceremony of the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta.
During his career, Muhammad Ali compiled a record of 56-5 with 37 wins by knockout. His victories include wins over what some consider the finest opposition in history: Sonny Liston (twice), Joe Frazier (twice), Floyd Patterson, Ken Norton (twice), and a knockout victory against George Foreman, one of the hardest punching boxers of all time. Ali also held the title three different times, each time defeating a reigning champion. This feat has never been equaled, nor is likely to be.
But Muhammad Ali was far more than just a boxing legend. His conversion to Islam and association with the Nation of Islam became a lightning rod for opinion across the United States. Later, his opposition to the war in Vietnam and direct engagement with civil rights issues catapulted him into a world far beyond the ring.
Above: Muhammad Ali in the Netherlands (1966)
In 1967, Ali refused to accept induction into the US Armed Forces for the war in Vietnam. Previously, he'd sought to obtain conscientious objector status on the grounds of his faith but was denied. As a result, he was immediately stripped of his boxing titles by every boxing commission. Soon after, he was convicted in federal court, sentenced to five years in prison, and handed a $10,000 fine ($73,000 at the current exchange rate). He was released on bond and remained free during appeals. In 1971, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled 8-0 in Ali’s favor and his conviction was thrown out.
Above: Muhammad Ali speaks with a reporter after his sentencing in 1967. His case would ultimately go all the way to the Supreme Court (Clay v. United States, 403 U.S. 698).
He later became an ambassador for peace, addressing the UN Special Committee Against Apartheid in 1978, and twenty years later became one of the first United Nations Messengers of Peace. One of his many messages being "Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth."
Above: Muhammad Ali named as a UN Messenger of Peace in 1998 by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
Muhammad Ali passed away on June 3rd, 2016 after a thirty-year battle with Parkinson's. Throughout his struggle, Ali never complained. He simply referred to the disease as his trial, yet one more challenge in a life of challenges.
"I AM THE GREATEST!"
~ Muhammad Ali, 1964
Above: Receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom with his wife Lonnie Ali from President George W. Bush in 2005.
Eig, Johnathan. "Ali: A Life." (2017).
Remnick, David. King of the World. Picador, 1999.
Ali, Muhammad, and Richard Durham. The Greatest: My Own Story. New York: Ballantine Books, 1976.
Ali, Muhammad, and Hana Yasmeen Ali. The Soul of a Butterfly: Reflections on Life's Journey. New York, Simon and Schuster, 1974.
Above: Back of the Specimen Card.