He does not own a flashy catch phrase, has pretty standard footwork for a college cornerback and never has dealt much with butterflies or bees.
But even with all of that being true, Cassius Sendish, one of the newest defensive backs on the Kansas University football roster, has a connection of sorts to boxing legend Muhammad Ali, formerly known as Cassius Clay.
“There’s definitely a link to that,” Sendish said of his famous first name. “My dad is an avid boxing fan; he used to box when he was younger, so, of course, that was a name that stuck out to him and one that he always liked. He always said if he ever had a son he was gonna name him Cassius.”
It did not take Sendish long to understand the significance of his name. Seeing how it was more unusual than the names of most of his childhood friends, Sendish quickly took an interest in understanding its origins. Once he learned his name’s connection to Ali, and discovered more about who Ali was, Sendish began to take pride in living up to the championship-caliber first name.
“It served as an inspiration,” he said. “It’s definitely something I’m shooting for, just to keep the consistency of the name and keep the prestige up.”
Not everyone has been as concerned to learn about it. Heck, most struggled just to pronounce it correctly.
“A lot,” said Sendish, when asked how often his name was butchered. “Especially coming up through school. If we had a substitute teacher or something, they would always mispronounce it.”
So, was there a most common mishandling of his name? Perhaps something like Cassie-us?
“Yes sir,” he said. “Every time. It never fails.”
As Sendish grew older and began exploring his own athletic career, he often studied Ali, known by many as the greatest boxer of all time.
“I love his whole way of going about things,” Sendish said of the legendary heavyweight. “He was very confident in himself, and it showed in his abilities.”
Although the three-star cornerback from Arizona Western College, who originally hails from Waldorf, Md., has a name that pops for boxing fans, Sendish never really dabbled with the sport.
“Growing up, my dad had me doing boxing workouts and stuff like that just to stay in shape and to keep myself sharp,” Sendish said. “But, now that I think about it, as time went on, it actually did help because some of the techniques that I use with my feet and my hands are a lot like boxing. It all comes into play.”
Sendish, one of nine junior-college prospects to sign with the Jayhawks on Dec. 19, is hoping that years of honing his skills and a solid sophomore season at Arizona Western has him in line to make an impact at Kansas. Like his namesake, Sendish plans to make a name for himself through preparation and performance.
“I know I’m gonna have to work for it,” he said. “But I’m gonna do just that. My plan is to earn what I’m given.”