Muhammad Ali

Wrestlers’ “Immerse Medals In Ganga” Call Resonates With Muhammad Ali’s Story

Muhammad Ali's story, however, may not be entirely true as some of his close aides claimed that the boxer may have misplaced the medal instead of throwing it into Ohio River.

Wrestlers in India have announced an unprecedented step – to immerse their Olympic and Commonwealth Games medals in the Ganga at Haridwar. The grapplers, including Sakshi Malik, Bajrang Punia and Vinesh Phogat, have been protesting for over a month demanding action against wrestling federation chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh who they accuse of harassing some of the wrestlers. In an emotive message, the wrestlers said their protest has been largely ignored, prompting them to take this step.

“It seems that these medals decorated around our necks have no meaning anymore,” read a statement in Hindi, tweeted out by top athletes. “The police and the system are treating us as criminals while the harasser openly attacks us in public meetings,” it added.


While this is an unusual step in India’s sporting history, many sportspersons across the world have taken drastic steps to protest against societal evils. One of the most famous stories is that of Muhammad Ali, the legendary American boxer.

Born Cassius Clay on January 17, 1942, in Louisville, Kentucky, Ali took to boxing at a very young age – 12. That story too is amazing. According to Associated Press, Ali was attracted towards boxing after his bicycle was stolen and he told a policeman that he would “whup” the person who took it.

Ali climbed the ladder of success in the boxing world and emerged as ‘The Greatest’ among his generation.


In just six years, Ali won the Olympic gold medal in 1960. The boxer was so happy that he did not take the medal off for “48 hours” – in his own words. But even after the tremendous success, Ali kept encountering racism.

While he was being trained by Joe Martin – the same policeman who he had told about what he will do to the thief – Ali and his amateur teammates would have to stay in the car while the coach bought them hamburgers.

Another famous story about the boxer is that when he returned with his Olympic gold medal, he was refused service at a restaurant that served only white people and even had a fight with a white motorcycle gang.


In his autobiography, “The Greatest,” Ali wrote that he tossed the medal into the Ohio River after the fight.

However, doubts have been raised on this version, with some of the close aides claiming that Ali may have misplaced the medal.

A 2016 report in the New York Times (NYT) said that Ali gave different accounts of that act, and according to Thomas Hauser, author of the oral history ‘Muhammad Ali: His Life and Times’, the boxer had simply lost the medal.

He was finally given a replica of the medal at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

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