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Hall of fame boxer and former world champion Matthew Saad Muhammad dead at 59

Former WBC (World Boxing Council) Light Heavyweight Champion Matthew Saad Muhammad passed away Sunday from ALS, he was 59 years old. He had a hall of fame career and fought the likes of Dwight Qawi, Yaqui Lopez, Eddie Mustafa Muhammad and Marvin Johnson. During the twilight of his career, Muhammad fought club fighters and lesser opponents as his skills declined. After losing his last three fights he retired from boxing at the age of 38.

Born on August 5, 1954 and was orphaned as an infant. Muhammad grew up in foster homes until he was adopted. He started his career in 1974 and during his first several years as a fighter he had a record of 13-3-2. His split decision loss to future world champion Eddie Mustafa Muhammad marked the beginning of a career change. For the next several years, Matthew would just keep on winning and moving up the ranks of the WBC before getting a shot at the champion Marvin Johnson (whom he defeated a year earlier for the NABF light heavyweight title.

Matthew Saad Muhammad would defeat Marvin Johnson on July 26, 1977 to become the WBC Light Heavyweight champion. He would defend the belt succesfully eight times before being knocked out by Dwight Qawi on December 19, 1981. After the loss, Muhammad would win another bout before getting a rematch with Qawi but the results were the same as he would lose to him in the same fashion on August 7, 1982. His last title shot would be for the NABF Light Heavyweight belt in 1984 but he would lose to champion Willie Edwards by knockout.

Life after boxing would be rough for Matthew Saad Muhammad. He lost all of his prize money from boxing due to poor financial advice, overspending and mismanagement. For a time he worked as a trainer for young boxers and moved on to being a day laborer but his personal problems kept him down. Sadly it has gotten to a point to where he was homeless and penniless. For a few years he lived on the streets and in shelters before finally getting back on his feet. Just as he was getting his life together, Muhammad was stricken with ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) and passed away from the affliction.

Matthew Saad Muhammad was an exciting fighter. One of his most well known attributes was his ability to withstand a pummeling and mount a comeback. He was a fan favorite because he was willing to trade blows with his opponents instead of back peddling and will be missed.

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