Area fighters say Muhammad Ali is an inspiration - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Area fighters say Muhammad Ali is an inspiration

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Not one to be shy with his words, people are remembering the legendary Muhammad Ali for his character and his boxing.

"His early days, I mean what skill he had and just the timing and that jab...the movement, it was on another level. Compared to fighters today, or even the fighters then," said Dean Lessei, chief instructor at the Dubuque Martial Arts Group. 

Lessei grew up watching Ali fights in the 70s. "He was one of my heroes. I have a friend who's a pro boxer who lives in Houston, who's originally from Dubuque and we loved Muhammad Ali," he said.

At the height of his career, Ali won three heavy weight titles. His style was a source of entertainment and motivation for those in the fight world. 

"He performed, and if he said he was gonna do it, he did it. Name the round, he was gonna take the guy out in, maybe it was cocky, but it was confidence too," Lessei said.

Out of the ring, Ali was just as much an inspiration, speaking up about racism and his religious beliefs. "He stood up for what he believed in, and there's something to be said about staying strong and standing for your own beliefs."

Instructors at the Dubuque Martial Arts Group say boxing plays a major part in their training program. While students train for competitions, they use quotes of Muhammad Ali for motivation.

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