Right now the world is morning the legendary boxer Muhammad Ali, a three time heavyweight boxing champion and global icon. Muhammad Ali was a citizen of the world, but perhaps New York City carries his legacy more than anywhere else. There are many places that he is associated with: the Apollo Theater is honoring his legacy. He trained at Gleason's Gym in the Bronx (now in Brooklyn). But the place in NY he's most associated is of course the place he fought four times, Madison Square Garden. One of those fights was called the Fight of the Century, his first fight with Joe Frazier.
Muhammad Ali in fact fought in New York City 10 times. He fought at the 3rd Madison Square Garden four times as well, when it was located on 8th Avenue between 49th and 50th streets. He also fought at Yankee Stadium at at the now torn-down St Nicholas Arena.
Madison Square Garden has in fact had three locations in NYC in its history. The first two buildings were both on Madison Square (hence the name). Every one of the 'Gardens' has featured historic boxing matches--in 1882 James Sullivan won the heavyweight title in the Garden's first site. Jack Dempsey defended his title against Bill Brennen in 1920. Joe Louis fought at the 3rd MSG 12 times (though his iconic fight with Max Schmeling was held at Yankee Stadium). In 1942 Sugar Ray Robinson and Jake LaMotta fought at the Garden.
Ali, then Cassius Clay, first fought at the 3rd Garden in 1962 against Sonny Banks. The entire fight is on Youtube. Banks floored Clay for the first time in his career but still lost in a 4th round TKO. Ali's first fight at the present MSG was in 1970 vs Oscar Bonavena, after he returned to the ring following his exile from the sport due to his refusal to serve in Vietnam. But his biggest fight at the Garden was his first ever defeat, a fight that may have been the biggest ever. Due to his having been stripped of the title, in 1971 two previously undefeated heavyweight champions, Ali and Joe Frazier, met at Madison Square Garden. The fight received tremendous publicity and lived up to it. Ali dominated early but Frazier got into the match. He knocked Ali down twice. After the full 15 rounds, Frazier won by unanimous decision.
Ali and Frazier would fight again at the Garden in 1974, this time in a non-title fight after Frazier lost to George Foreman. Ali's 12-round victory was the fight that preceded his victory over Foreman in Zaire.
Madison Square Garden still features boxing matches. In 2015 Vladimir Klitschko defeated Bryant Jennings in a heavyweight title match. MSG is the home stadium of the following area teams: the Knicks (NBA), the Rangers (NHL), St John's University (college basketball), and the New York Liberty (a WNBA women's professional team). The Arena also hosts many concerts. Billy Joel has played there more than any other music performer. You can also take a tour which highlights the sporting history of the arena.
Until 1990, the Garden was the site of the International Boxing Hall of Fame. It was then moved to the town of Canastota in upstate NY. In addition to boxing artifacts such as trunks, belts, and gloves of famous boxers, the Hall of Fame features the actual ring used for the 1971 Fight of the Century.
Ali was a fan of other sports, and was a frequent attender of matches of the New York Cosmos and a friend of the legend Pele. Ali called Pele the 'other Greatest."