Matthew Saad Muhammad

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Name: Matthew Saad Muhammad
Alias: Matthew Franklin
Birth Name: Maxwell Antonio Loach
Hometown: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Died: 2014-05-25 (Age:59)
Stance: Orthodox
Height: 180cm
Reach: 191cm
Pro Boxer: Record

Career Overview


  • Saad Muhammad's date of birth has been listed as June 16, June 24 and August 5.
  • Saad Muhammad was found on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in June of 1958 or 1959 (sources differ). "A policeman spotted me and asked me who I was. I hardly said anything because I was very scared," he said. "He took me to the police station and tried to locate my real parents, but no one came to claim me." Saad Muhammad didn't remember much about what had happened. "I was going to my grandmother's house with my brother," he recalled. "As he ran in front of me, I tried to catch up with him, but he outran me. The next thing I knew, I was lost."
  • Saad Muhammad was taken to the Catholic Social Services office, where the nuns named him Matthew Franklin. "They named me Matthew because it means 'chosen one' and 'Franklin' because I was found on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway," he said.
  • At the age of seven, he was adopted by John and Bertha Santos, Portuguese immigrants who lived in South Philadelphia.
  • "The neighborhood I lived in was pretty bad," Saad Muhammad said. "I had to go to Broad Street by way of 13th Street to get to Catholic school. The youth gangs used to ask me which street I was from and beat me up. I figured, 'If I can't beat them, join them.' Later, I became a leader of a gang." As a result of his gang activity, Saad Muhammad was in and out of reform school. While locked up, a counselor suggested that he take up boxing.
  • After winning the WBC light heavyweight championship from Marvin Johnson in 1979, Matthew Franklin converted to Islam and changed his name to Matthew Saad Muhammad. Saad means "bright future" and Muhammad means "worthy of praise." [3]
  • In 1980, Saad Muhammad offered $10,000 to anyone with information leading to the whereabouts of his family. He also hired a private investigator, who got some answers in 1981. Following up on a lead provided by a Philadelphia woman, the private investigator discovered that Saad Muhammad was born Maxwell Antonio Loach. Saad Muhammad also learned that he and a brother were taken in by an aunt after their mother had died. The aunt could not afford to raise both of them, so she instructed the older brother to get rid of his younger brother. The older brother took Saad Muhammad to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and then ran away. "They just didn't have enough money to take care of me, so they got rid of me," Saad Muhammad said. [4]
  • Sylvester Stallone sought out Saad Muhammad to play the role of Clubber Lang in Rocky III, but he passed on the project. "They wanted me to shave my head and I refused to do that," recalled Saad Muhammad. "Man, if I could go back in time, I would shave my head if that's what it took to get that part. But if you knew things then that you know now, life would be a lot easier, wouldn't it? I guess I was young and crazy. I couldn't see the forest for the trees, didn't realize what a part like that could have done for me. I wish I had." [5]
  • After his retirement from the ring in the early 1990s, Saad Muhammad fell on hard times. The Ring Magazine estimated his ring earnings at $4 million, but leading a spendthrift and dissipating lifestyle and trusting the wrong people with his boxing earnings left him broke. By 2010, he was living in the R.H.D. Ridge Center, a Philadelphia homeless shelter administered by Resources for Human Development. After a few months, he was again living on his own in Philadelphia and working for the development organization as an advocate and spokesman.
  • Saad Muhammad died from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, on May 25, 2014. [6]

Awards & Recognition by The Ring Magazine

Preceded by:
Marvin Johnson
WBC Light Heavyweight Champion
1979 Apr 22 – 1981 Dec 19
Succeeded by:
Dwight Braxton