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A born fighter!

Matthew Saad Muhammad, the former light-heavyweight champion who was abandoned as a youngster and rose to become one of the most thrilling fighters of all time was born Maxwell Antonio Loach in Philadelphia in 1954.

When he was an infant, his mother died, and he and an older brother were taken to live with an aunt. According to reports she realised she couldn't raise them both, so she sent the two of them out with orders for the elder boy to abandon young Maxwell, who was just five years old at the time, in the city.

“I was alone on the streets. I was so scared. A policewoman found me, and asked me my name. I told her I didn’t know my name.”

Taken in by Catholic nuns who named him Matthew from the Bible and Franklin because he was found on Philadelphia’s downtown Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

He later lived in foster homes.

Saad said he found his calling in a boxing gym in south Philadelphia and started his pro career in 1974, just three years before he won the NABF title.

From 1977 to 1981, he won 18 straight fights, many of which were marked by his crowd-pleasing penchant for trading punches. His 1977 NABF title battle with Marvin Johnson, which Saad Muhammad (who had not yet converted to Islam and was fighting under the name Matthew Franklin at the time) won via 12th-round stoppage, is considered one of the great brawls in boxing history.

He then fought Johnson for the WBC belt in 1979, scoring a stoppage despite cuts above both eyes in an absolutely classic eighth round.

He defended the crown eight times, seven of them by stoppage, until losing it in the 10th-round to Dwight Muhammad Qawi in 1981.

His career record of 39-16-3 with 35 knockouts is misleading as it conceals a rapid fall from his prime years. He was, nonetheless, regarded as one of the most thrilling fighters of his time. This goes to show that where you are born and raised doesnt determine who you can become. Rest in peace champ!


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