Famous Sport Figure Graves 

Muhammad Ali. American Professional Boxer. He is generally considered to be the greatest heavyweight boxer in the history of the sport. Raised in Louisville, Kentucky, his birth name was Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. His father was Cassius Marcellus Clay Sr., a billboard and sign painter. His mother, was Odessa O’Grady Clay, a household domestic. He was introduced to boxing by a police officer. Since early in his boxing career, he is credited for his remarkable skill, accuracy, smoothness, and precision, which he brought to the ring, as well the values he exemplified and spoke to in a time when few did. He competed at the 1960 Rome Olympics and won a gold medal in boxing. Always a controversial figure, he spoke openly about religious freedom, racial injustice and in sticking to one’s principles. He was among the first to bring these ideals to the mainstream media. At the pinnacle of his career, he is thought to be the most famous man in the world and certainly among the most recognized sports figures of his time. He was named “Sportsman of the Century” by Sports Illustrated magazine and “Sports Personality of the Century” by the BBC in England. He wrote several best-selling biographies about his life in boxing, including “The Greatest”, “My Own Story”, and “The Soul of a Butterfly.” In the beginning, he fought under his birth name as “Cassius Clay.” From the age of 12 to the age of 22 (1964), he won the world heavyweight championship from Sonny Liston, three years later, won the heavyweight title (1967), he then refused to be drafted into the U.S. Army, citing his religious objections and opposition to America’s involvement in the Vietnam conflict. He had joined the “Nation of Islam” and changed his name to Mohammed Ali. He was arrested and judged guilty of draft evasion and was stripped of his boxing title because of it. He did not fight again for nearly four years during a time when he was at the peak of his fighting condition. He appealed the conviction, which worked its way to the U.S. Supreme Court. His conviction was overturned in 1971. As a conscientious objector, he became an icon for the growing counter-culture against the war. He was the only three-time lineal world heavyweight champion… in 1964, 1974, and 1978. For 7 months in 1964, he was the undisputed heavyweight boxing champion of the world. He assumed the title of “The Greatest” and fought in several more historic matches. Among them was the first Liston fight, three with “Mighty” Joe Frazier, and one with legendary boxer George Foreman. He was to regain the boxing titles that had been stripped from him seven years earlier. He took command of most of his press conferences and spoke freely about issues not related to boxing which facilitated other African-American athletes in America to speak out with greater confidence. He spoke of racial pride and felt unintimidated by the “white establishment,” prevalent at the time. He often spontaneously spoke with poetic words and prose during his news conferences and interviews, which is said to have been an early inspiration for the rap and hip-hop musical movement decades later. Sadly, in 1984, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s syndrome, a disease that commonly results from head trauma from participation in contact sports such as boxing and football. He remained active during his final years, however, and even lit the Olympic torch at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. In 2005, President Bush presented him with Presidential Medal of Freedom at the White House. A 2001 motion picture, starring Will Smith earned an Oscar nomination for Smith’s portrayal of Ali in the leading role. He was married 4 times and is survived by 9 children.

Walter Camp. Professional Football Coach. He is known as the “Father of American Football.” Among his creations are the play from scrimmage, the numerical assessment of goals and tries, the restriction of eleven team players per side, the adoption of the forward pass, and other strategies for the game. Born in New Haven, Connecticut, he attended Hopkins Grammar School there and entered Yale University in 1876. A naturally athletic young man, he was a good swimmer and runner. During his teen years, he disciplined himself with a strict regimen of physical training and calisthenics to become an outstanding athlete. From 1876 to 1880, he played on the varsity Football team of Yale University, serving three years as its Captain. Under his leadership in 1879, the Yale Bulldogs won 25 victories, 1 defeat, and 6 ties. Following his graduation from Yale, he began working for the New Haven Clock Company, beginning with salesman, and working his way up the management ladder to become President and Chairman of the Board of Directors. However, he never lost his love for the game of Football, and he became Yale’s first football coach, from 1880 until 1910 (in those days, coaching was a part-time position; coaches were unpaid and expected to earn a living with a real job, just as players were expected to take a real course of study). He helped establish the National Collegiate Athletic Association, which governed college football, and served on the rules committee from his college days until his death. In 1906, as the chairman of the American Football Rules Committee, Camp helped adopt new rules that changed the game where brute strength was everything to a game where skill became more important. The adoption of the forward pass would rewrite the game and make it popular. During these years, Camp would write nearly 30 books and 250 magazine articles on the sport, with his stories appearing in national periodicals of the day and in major city newspapers. Camp was considered instrumental in attaching an almost mythical atmosphere of manliness and heroism to the game, not previously felt in any American sport. Camp is credited with giving needed direction to American college football during the period when the sport was growing most rapidly. A believer in physical fitness for all ages, he developed the Daily Dozen, a series of exercises for people of all ages that were adopted into the US Army. About 1889, the concept of an All America Team came into being, and both Camp and editor Caspar Whitney of the weekly magazine “The Week’s Sport” are credited with the idea (both men gave the other man the credit). But by 1899, the concept was so extremely popular that it had become a near mania, and after 1899 Camp continued to pick the members of the All America Team until his death in 1925, when famed sportswriter Grantland Rice took over the duties. Harold “Red” Grange, the famous University of Illinois Coach once stated “Camp was the No. 1 name in football; if you weren’t on the Camp (All America) Team, it didn’t mean a thing.” 

Alexander Joy Cartwright, Jr. Hall of Fame Major League Baseball Pioneer. Born in New York City, he was officially credited by the US Congress for inventing the modern game of baseball on June 3, 1953. In 1842, he founded the Knickerbocker Baseball Club in Manhattan and Cartwright with a committee from his club drew up rules converting this playground game into a more elaborate and interesting sport to be played by adults. His club participated in the first competitive game under these rules on June 19, 1846, with the Knickerbockers losing 21–1 to the New York Nine. He moved to Hawaii in 1849, served as fire chief of Honolulu 1850 to 1863 and encouraged the growth of baseball on the islands until his death. In 1938, he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

George Herman “Babe” Ruth. Hall of Fame Major League Baseball Player, American Legend. He was a charter member to the Hall of Fame. He hit 60 Homers, still the record for a 154-game season. Ruth began his major -league career with the Boston Red Sox in 1915-as a pitcher. In 1919, pitcher-outfielder Ruth hit 29 homeruns. In 1920, he was now a full time outfielder with the New York Yankees. His hitting with a heavy 52-ounce bat produced homeruns at a record pace. From 54 in his first Yankee season in 1921 to the record 60 homers in 1927. He won 7 World Series Championships. Three of them with the Boston Red Sox and four of them with the New York Yankees. Popular belief that Babe Ruth was an orphan is not true. Ruth was born in the Camden Yards section of Baltimore, Maryland. The site today is occupied by the new ballpark of the Oriole’s, “Camden Yards”. At the age of 7, he was literally given away to St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys and his custody was signed over to the operators of the facility The Xaverian Brothers, a Catholic Order of Jesuits. The reason given was his extreme incorrigible behavior. In 1946, he was diagnosed with throat cancer. Surgery & radiation treatments proved ineffective. He lost his battle for life. For two days his body lay in state at the main entrance to Yankee Stadium. Hundred’s of thousands of people stood in line to pay their last respects. Ruth’s funeral was conducted at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhatta

Rickey Dale Tolley. Head Football Coach. On a rainy hill side in Wayne County, West Virginia, the lives of 75 people were lost in the worst single air tragedy in NCAA sports history. Among the losses were nearly the entire Marshall University football team, coaches, flight crew, numerous fans, and supporters. The event marked a boundary by which an entire community would forever measure time… before or after “The Crash”. This site is a memorial to the lives that were lost on that evening; to honor those men and women who made a mark in the hearts of a school, a community and a nation.

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