Matthew Saad Muhammad

Boxing isn’t short on hard luck stories. The numerous kids who grew up dirt poor under hard circumstances later becoming a man and a world champion is part of the great folklore and history of the sweet science. But very few have every overcome such tremendous hardship as Matthew Saad Muhammad. Muhammad, who fought a large part of his career under the name Matt Franklin, was abandoned at the tender age of 5. His mother had recently passed away and the care of Muhammad and his older brother was undertaken by an aunt. Care might be a strong word as the aunt instructed his older brother to get rid of him because she couldn’t afford both children. Muhammad’s tale of running as hard and fast as he could to try and catch up with his older brother after being left at the side if the Benjamin Franklin Parkway is absolutely heart wrenching. To imagine a child so young being in those circumstances is hard to fathom. Muhammad ended up being picked up by some police officers and brought to Catholic Social Services. It was here he was given the name Matt Franklin. Matt, as he was known then, was a Philly boxer through and through. The kind of cat who never took a step backward and was always willing to take a good shot and continue to move forward. Anything he faced in the ring could hardly top the hardship he had faced outside of it. Only 18 fights in his career Muhammad had already made a point of making it clear he would fight anyone, anywhere. How good you were supposed to be didn’t matter, Muhammad feared no one. His two wars with Marvin Johnson are absolute classics, the second fight in which Muhammad won the WBC Light Heavyweight crown being the better of the two. In Johnson he found a kindred spirit, another true warrior who refused to stop coming forward. Seven successful title defenses followed before he ran into another brawler in Dwight Muhammad Qawi. He was never the same and only fought sporadically for the rest of the 80’s until hanging up his gloves. But the fact he rose to the heights he did was why he’ll forever be known as “Miracle Matthew”.

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