By the time Muhammad Ali moved into his Chicago residence in the 60s, he’d already claimed the title as “The Greatest.” Born as Cassius Clay in 1942 in Louisville, Kentucky, boxing was introduced to Ali at a young age as a means to defend himself in retaliation of his stolen bicycle. However, after winning several bouts and titles, it was Ali that used boxing as a platform to defend the civil rights of people all over through his humanitarian efforts and activism.
After being exiled from the boxing world for draft evasion, Ali settled into his small south side apartment in the 7000 block of S. Creiger Ave. Through the park district, he helped form amateur boxing leagues while also fighting any opponent he could in the rings of south side gyms. Although he was known for his flashy footwork, floating around his opponents with lightning speed, outside of the ring, Ali’s feet were planted firmly in the soil of his beliefs. He was the “People’s Champ” and advocated along the south side and other parts of the city in speaking engagements, confessing the truth for his people and the fruits within the Nation of Islam.
It is the south side of Chicago where residents and businesses such as the Nation of Islam bakery on 79th street witnessed the spiritual transformation from Clay to Ali. It is the south side that stayed in his corner and helped to keep him off the ropes as he fought his way back into the boxing world and into more boxing titles. It is the south side that will always remember Ali’s impact on the community.
In this video slideshow, we remember Muhammad Ali and his time in Chicago.