Muhammad Ali electrified the audience in the stadium at the 2016 Rio Olympics with the mere mention of his name. He entered into the ring and some parts of the Rome Olympics in 1960 came back to life when Cassius Clay fought and won a gold medal as a light heavyweight.
Fighting at 52kg, the young Muhammad Ali, 20, from England is slender with long arms — similar in a way to the youthful version of his idol. His father looked ever so proudly at him; happy he’s found his way into boxing like he did.
But the 20-year-old Ali didn’t look anything like the greatest boxer of all time when the bell sounded. He fought against Venezuela’s Yoel Segundo Finol, who used the ring much better, and moved around him.
Ali looked boxed up and stiff with both arms up. He stalked the Venezuelan as soon the match started, moving awkwardly about.
In a report by the BBC the flyweight boxer said, “I’ve been here for too long, I felt sluggish and too anxious. I was to trying too hard.” Ali said.
“I’ve been waiting around waiting to box and watching everyone else and I let that get the better of me. I was in there and nothing was flowing and couldn’t get a rhythm going.”
On the contrary, it was his opponent Yoel Segundo Finol who moved better and took advantage of his quick jabs that snapped Ali’s head a couple of times. He would corner Finol occasionally, but his punches looked more like slaps, hitting his opponent open palmed.
He fought flat-footed and his movements were limited. The best he could do was swarm, but he got countered a lot. After the 2nd round he needed a knockout to win the match.
The crowd chanted Ali! But the name, no matter how magical it sounded, couldn’t lift up his game as he lost to Venezuela.
At the end of the match, according to a report by USA Today his father said, “You want your kid to feel greatness, to aspire to something great. You want him to understand what effort in life can achieve.”
“I grew up watching Muhammad Ali. I was a huge fan. As a Muslim it is one of the most popular names but also a name that is revered because of the greatest. It is a blessing to my son, I believe that.”
The young Ali hasn’t decided yet whether to remain an amateur or to turn pro. He may still need to develop many aspects of his game, but he clearly showed he has the heart, even if he looked burdened by his great name in Rio.