Muhammad Ali: Career retrospective

Posted 10 hours ago  |  By Chris Morgan

When you are talking boxing greats, Muhammad Ali is one of the first names destined to come up. He’s a legend of the sport and a legend of sports in general. There was a time when Ali was probably the biggest athlete in the world. He was a true celebrity with a lasting cultural impact well beyond the ring. While his later life was marked with unfortunate health issues, we can always remember Ali in his prime, floating like a butterfly and stinging like a bee. Let’s take a look back at the life and career of the man they called “The Greatest.”

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Cassius Clay begins his amateur career

Cassius Clay begins his amateur career
Robert Riger/Getty Images

The man best known as Muhammad Ali was born Cassius Clay Jr. in Louisville, Kentucky. He would begin training at boxing as a child and made his amateur debut in 1954. Clay would beat Ronnie O’Keefe by split decision. However, Clay’s amateur career would take off from there. He won six Kentucky Golden Gloves, two national Golden Gloves, and an AAU national title.

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Clay wins gold at the Olympics

Clay wins gold at the Olympics
Central Press/Getty Images

The pinnacle of Clay’s amateur career came in 1960 when he fought as a light heavyweight in the Rome Olympics. Clay would end up winning the gold medal. In the end, Clay posted an amateur record of 100 wins and five losses.

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Cassius turns pro

Cassius turns pro
The Ring Magazine via Getty Images

Later in 1960, when he was only 18 years old, Cassius Clay turned pro. On October 29 he would beat Tunney Hunsaker in a six-round decision. In 1960, Clay also hired Angelo Dundee to become his trainer. The boxer would begin his career with 19-straight wins, including 15 by knockout.

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Significant Black firsts in sports history

Posted 1 day ago  |  By Matt Whitener

The impact of Black athletes across the history of sports is an undeniable one, but also one that has not always been accomplished on equal footing. Of the many highs that have been accomplished, there have been just as many –if not more— that have also had to overcome the rules of the times they were accomplished in. This is a look back at many significant firsts, highlights, and noteworthy moments accomplished by Black athletes across the sporting spectrum, as well as the conditions that secured their significance.

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1884: First African-American MLB player (all-time): Moses Fleetwood Walker

1884: First African-American MLB player (all-time): Moses Fleetwood Walker

Photo by Mark Rucker/Transcendental Graphics, Getty Images

Technically, William Edward White was the first Black man to play professional baseball in 1879, but he did so while passing as white. However, it was Walker who did so outright as an African-American, playing catcher for the Toledo Blue Stockings in 1884. He faced the intense racial scrutiny of the time and lasted only one season, becoming the last African-American to appear in the MLB for 63 years.

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1889: First Black Professional Soccer Player: Arthur Wharton

1889: First Black Professional Soccer Player: Arthur Wharton

Born in Jamestown of the Gold Coast (in modern-day Ghana), Wharton became the first Black professional soccer player in the English Professional League. Wharton was a goalie and occasional winger, who made 54 overall appearances across four professional seasons. In 2003, he was elected to the English Football Hall of Fame as a pioneer.

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1908: First Black Heavyweight Boxing Champion: Jack Johnson

1908: First Black Heavyweight Boxing Champion: Jack Johnson
Photo by Philipp Kester/ullstein bild via Getty Images

At the peak of the Jim Crow era in America, Johnson emerged as one of the nation’s biggest stars. In 1908, the Galveston, Texas, native beat Tommy Burns to claim the lineal world heavyweight title, via a stoppage in the 14 th round, to become the first African-American world heavyweight boxing champion, a title he would carry for the next eight years.

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1908: First Black Olympic Gold Medalist: John Taylor

1908: First Black Olympic Gold Medalist: John Taylor
Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

Although George Poage was the first African-American Olympian, when he captured two bronze medals in St. Louis four years prior, it was Taylor in 1908 who first reached the top of the podium. Hailing from Washington D.C. and the son of two former slaves, Taylor captured the gold running the third leg of the medley relays, covering 400 meters. In the same year, he would complete his degree in veterinary medicine from the University of Pennsylvania.

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Tokyo Olympics president Yoshiro Mori to resign following sexist comments

By Blake Harper  |  Last updated 2/11/21

Tokyo Olympics president Yoshiro Mori is reportedly set to resign due to sexist comments he made regarding women being too talkative and competitive during meetings.

“When one of them raises her hand, they probably think they have to say something, too. And then everyone says something,” Mori said when asked why there were so few women on the Japanese Olympic Committee.

Mori quickly faced backlash for his comments, with many arguing that he made harmful generalizations about women rather than take ownership of the committee’s lack of female representation. He tried to apologize for his comments once public sentiment seemingly turned on him.

“The statement made at the Japan Olympic Committee was an inappropriate expression, contrary to the spirit of the Olympics and Paralympics,” Mori said. “I am deeply remorseful. I would like to withdraw the statement. I would like to apologize for any unpleasant feelings.”

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John Cena to appear at WrestleMania 37

By Zac Wassink | Last updated 1/29/21

John Cena hasn’t participated in a WWE televised event during the COVID-19 pandemic since he faced “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt at WrestleMania 36 last year in a cinematic match that remains a polarizing topic among fans. 

The 16-time world champion and leader of the “CeNation” is returning home for this year’s Showcase of the Immortals.

Wrestling Observer editor Dave Meltzer reports that Cena will appear at the WrestleMania 37 pay-per-view that will be a two-night event and take place across April 10 and April 11 at Raymond James Stadium, home of the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Super Bowl LV. Meltzer wrote in his latest newsletter:

“Regarding WrestleMania, as of this week, only one match on the show is finalized, and that would be the (Roman) Reigns match. We don’t know who his opponent is, other than it’s not (Shinsuke) Nakamura. Ringside News reported Cena on the show which was confirmed as a plan, but what his role or match would be is undecided. Those who have been around the company for a long period say that there’s never been a situation where this late in the game so little has been locked in and even teased on television.”

Cena has followed in the footsteps of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and pursued Hollywood roles and other business opportunities, and there’s no indication the 43-year-old wishes to return to WWE on even a part-time schedule. WrestleMania 37 likely won’t be the stage for Cena’s farewell to the WWE Universe, but fans also shouldn’t be shocked if he avoids taking even a bump during the one-off appearance. 

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Athletes who will dominate in 2021

Posted 4 hours ago | By Seth Trachtman

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 has been an unforgettable year in sports. Most sports fans will be relieved when the calendar finally turns to 2021. The good news is that we could be set for one of the best years to ever be a sports fan with long seasons and the scheduled 2021 Summer Olympics. So with that in mind, here’s a look at some of the athletes who are set to dominate in 2021.

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Giannis Antetokounmpo

Giannis Antetokounmpo
Mike Ehrmann / USA Today Sports Images

Although the Bucks had a disappointing finish in the 2020 NBA Playoffs, Antetokounmpo won his second consecutive NBA MVP after averaging 34.9 points and 16.1 rebounds per game. Now that he is staying in Milwaukee for the foreseeable future, the Greek Freak has even bigger goals for the 2020-21 season.

Mookie Betts

Mookie Betts
Tim Heitman / USA Today Sports Images

Betts has now won World Series with two different franchises after the Dodgers got their long-awaited victory in the abbreviated 2020 season, and the outfielder also earned a huge contract. Now the leader of a star-studded Dodgers roster, Betts hopes for a repeat.

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Simone Biles

Simone Biles
Denny Medley / USA Today Sports Images

One of the greatest Olympic gymnasts ever, Biles has four gold medals and one bronze to her name already. She’s looking to add to that total in the delayed Tokyo Olympics.

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Mike Tyson, Roy Jones Jr. fight to predictable ‘draw’ in entertaining event

Originally posted on Larry Brown Sports | By Larry Brown | Last updated 11/29/20

Saturday night’s Triller fight card at Staples Center in Los Angeles headlined by Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr. was a roaring success, even if the main event had a bogus outcome.

Tyson and Jones Jr. fought an eight-round exhibition match with a smaller ring, smaller gloves and shorter round duration than is standard for non-exhibitions. Before facing Jones Jr., Iron Mike, 54, hadn’t fought since 2005 but he looked good considering his age.

Tyson came out swinging and showed off good speed on his punches and his typical ability to strike from close range. He dominated the entire fight and clearly won it. Comparatively, Jones Jr. barely was throwing punches and didn’t appear to land anything of consequence. Despite that, the fight went the distance and was ruled a draw by the three judges.

Chad Dawson scored it 76-76, Christy Martin had it 79-73 Tyson and Vinny Pazienza scored it 80-76 for Jones.

“Yeah, but I’m good with a draw,” Tyson said afterward. Iron Mike was pleased because he entertained the fans.

Jones Jr. accepted the result but cracked a joke.

“I wear drawers, but I don’t do draws,” he said.

They talked about fighting a rematch.

“We gotta do this again. Everybody loves Mike. It’s tough taking punches from Mike,” Jones said afterward.

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Watch: Chase Elliott celebrates first NASCAR Cup Series championship

Originally posted on Larry Brown Sports | By Larry Brown | Last updated 11/8/20

Chase Elliott won the Season Finale 500 at Phoenix Raceway in Arizona on Sunday to capture his first NASCAR Cup Series championship.

Elliott overtook Joey Logano with 43 laps to go and held off Logano, Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski at the one-mile oval track.

Here’s what it sounded like in Elliott’s No. 9 car when he won the race.

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Lionel Messi’s patience with Barcelona has finally run out

Originally posted on RealGM | By Colin McGowan | Last updated 8/25/20

Barcelona have been languishing in waking death for years. This is an ostensibly overdramatic way to describe a club that has won four of the last six Ligas, nearly achieving an undefeated season in 2017-18, with a Champions League title in their not at all distant past, but provided you’ve been paying attention to the pitch and the papers rather than their record, you know they’ve grown fat and dyspeptic off unhappy and exhaustingly qualified success. This is the modern Barcelona FC: Winning some stuff is not necessarily satisfactory, given their financial advantages, given fan expectations, given Leo Messi’s now alarmingly dwindling prime. They cannot truly fail and so they have no option but to thrive, which they haven’t in a while. Surely relegated Espanyol and terminally midtable EIbar weep for their betters, but they’re barely playing the same sport and Barça aren’t playing theirs nearly as well as they’d like to. The travails of the mega-rich, etc., but it’s not without intrigue. 

First: $420 million. That’s how much it cost Barcelona to start their season-ending 8-2 devastation against Bayern Munich with Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele on the bench, and Philippe Countinho playing for the other team. The sporting department’s signings in recent years haven’t all been bad, but the bad ones have been spectacularly so. Dembele has wrapped up his third season in the Catalan capital with no small amount of promise, but he’s struggled to find his place in the squad due to persistent injury. Griezmann, who essentially plays the same position as Messi, had a miserable debut season either marooned on the left wing or miscast as a pure striker. Coutinho joined in January of 2018 and was an immediate catastrophe, to the point that he was loaned to Bayern seven months later, quickly demoted to the Bavarian club’s bench, and didn’t contribute all that much to their white-hot 2020 — except notably and humiliatingly, adding a goal and an assist in the meaningless minutes of Barcelona’s demise. He’ll now return to his parent club, because Bayern have no interest in purchasing him permanently. Asked about his predicament after Bayern’s Champions League triumph, Coutinho’s answer was suitably straightforward and hilarious: “I have to go back.” He’ll almost definitely be loaned out again, as if he were a 20-year-old youth product not quite ready to compete at the first team level.

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U.S. Open director admits tennis tournament could be canceled

By Zac Wassink | Last updated 8/20/20

Even though tennis players and other personnel are isolating in a “bubble” ahead of and during the U.S. Open, tournament director Stacey Allaster admitted to ESPN’s D’Arcy Maine that the coronavirus pandemic could eliminate the anticipated event from the calendar:

“If at any time we don’t feel that level of confidence that we have today, then we’ll make a very easy call, and we’ll work with the local public health authorities along this journey.

“We feel it’s worth a try and in the best interest of tennis and the industry overall to do so, but the health, well-being and safety of every person involved in the U.S. Open will always be at the forefront of our decision.”

The U.S. Open is the first Grand Slam to occur amid the pandemic. The Wimbledon Championships canceled on April 1, while the French Open was pushed back to a Sept. 27 start date. 

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. indicates Homestead-Miami race may have been his last

Dale Earnhardt Jr. may have competed in his final race.

Following the race, Earnhardt speculated whether Saturday’s race was his last, and it very well could’ve been for the father of two, via NASCAR.com:

“I think right now it’s just going to stay the same. I don’t want to do any more, that’s for sure. I can say that with confidence. I don’t know how many more of these I’ll do. This might be the last one, and this ain’t no tease or anything like that. I’m not trying to be annoying about that. It’s a lot of a commitment, and I just … I don’t know. It’s getting to the point to where I’ve got to decide whether I’m helping things or I’m not helping the team, how can I help the team in other ways. I don’t know.

“I really enjoy it. I really do, but I think there’s got to be a point to where I decide to make the change to broadcasting entirely. With that said, being in the car today, I certainly learned a ton that’s going to help me in the (broadcast) booth. I’ve just got to think about it, and I certainly don’t want to run more. One is plenty and it’s a great series. We’ll just see how it goes. I guess it’s a tough question to answer.”

The 45-year-old kept his No. 8 JR Motorsports Chevrolet near the top of pack throughout the Hooters 250, but saw Harrison Burton take the victory.

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By Erin Walsh | Last updated 6/14/20