Muhammad Ali
American boxer, world heavyweight champion, Olympic gold medalist; anti-Vietnam War activist
Muhammad Ali
Muhammad Ali is an American former professional boxer, philanthropist and social activist. Considered a cultural icon, Ali has both been idolized and vilified. Originally known as Cassius Clay, at the age of 22 he won the world heavyweight championship from Sonny Liston. Ali changed his name after joining the Nation of Islam in 1964, subsequently converting to Sunni Islam in 1975.
Biography
Muhammad Ali's personal information overview.
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News
News abour Muhammad Ali from around the web
President Barack Obama Saw Himself -- His Persona And Story -- As The Answer
Huffington Post - about 1 month
This piece is part of a series on Obama’s legacy that The Huffington Post has been publishing over the past week. WASHINGTON ― When I first met Barack Obama, in January 2005, he had just arrived in the U.S. Senate. He was 43 years old, but looked 33. A Sinatra-like black suit hung loosely over his lanky frame, and he flashed an enormous smile that lit up the Capitol hallways. He had “president” written all over him and everyone in the place knew it, most of all ― and quite evidently ― Obama himself. He was a class act, and he knew that, too, and was determined to maintain his dignity. That sounds like a small thing but it was and is not, in a society full of noise, stupidity and accusation. His had risen fast, but not via lots of elections or by passing lots of legislation, or detailed agendas and platforms. He had done it through eloquent language largely about himself. His story and lively presence were his own proof of the healing virtues of American struggle and hope. ...
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Huffington Post article
What Thomas Merton and Muhammad Ali Had in Common
NYTimes - about 1 month
The Catholic writer and the boxer never met, but they shared an abiding belief that all religions contain vital truths.
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NYTimes article
Dear 2016, I'd like a Refund
Huffington Post - about 1 month
What can be said about 2016? It was a year that began with the death of Ziggy Stardust and ended with the keys of the free world being handed over to a bright orange pus-spewing reality TV star. According to Chinese astrology 2016 was the year of the monkey. A cynic would tell you that 2016 was a comic existential farce. An optimist would try and comfort you by saying that at least 2016 wasn't the uneventful mediocrity that 2015 was. And if you asked a layman they would tell you that 2016 was the Year of the Suck It was the year that David Bowie, Prince, Lemmy Kilmister, Leonard Cohen, Merle Haggard and Sharon Jones left us and Justin Bieber came back. It was a year where nobody was safe. Not Carol Brady, Radio Raheem or Willie Wonka. Not Harper Lee or Grizzly Adams. Not Muhammad Ali or Abe Vigoda. In 2016 the grim reaper ran as rampant as Jason Voorhees at a secluded summer camp ripe with oversexed teenagers. The Summer Olympics tried to tow us out of this big muddy o ...
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Huffington Post article
Dancing In The 'Moonlight'
Huffington Post - about 2 months
Over the holidays I finally saw the much talked about film "Moonlight." I was moved to see so much of my early life story in the protagonist, Chiron's. The film is an elegy in three parts based on the play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue by Tarell Alvin McCraney. The film's three parts - Chiron...Little...Black - tell the story of a shy child named Chiron (Alex Hibbert), dubbed "Little" for his meek personality and size. Lacking stability and support from his anxious and abusive mother, Chiron finds a mentor in Juan (Mahershala Ali), a crack dealer who shelters him after he is chased by bullies. Chiron and Juan continue spending more time together, and in a powerful scene Juan teaches Chiron how to swim while advising him to also make his own path in life. In many ways Juan and his girlfriend Theresa were like my parents, not in what they did to live, but rather in how they cared for a child who was "different" - in need of love, and attention and most importantly, acceptance. ...
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Huffington Post article
Remembering Muhammad Ali, A Man Who Lived Life More Than Most
NPR - about 2 months
Muhammad Ali was among the great lives that ended in 2016. The self-proclaimed "greatest" boxer-turned-activist left a profound social and political legacy.
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NPR article
The 10 funniest memes of 2016
LATimes - about 2 months
The year 2016 was good for just about three things: new music, TV and memes. A terrible year that took Muhammad Ali and Prince had a few bright spots — “Insecure,” “Atlanta” and “Queen Sugar,” plus new music from Chance the Rapper, Solange and Frank Ocean to name a few — and some of the most hilarious...
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LATimes article
Howard L. Bingham, Muhammad Ali’s Longtime Photographer, Dies at 77
NYTimes - 2 months
Mr. Bingham chronicled the boxer’s life for more than 50 years and displayed a particular flair for showing him away from the ring.
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NYTimes article
America mourns heroes, rock icons and sporting legends in 2016
Yahoo News - 2 months
By Patricia Reaney NEW YORK (Reuters) - The United States lost some literal and figurative pioneers in 2016 with the deaths of famed sons and daughters from John Glenn, the first American to orbit Earth, to Gwen Ifill, the first black woman to co-anchor a major U.S. television newscast. The year also saw the deaths of stars of sports, the arts and politics, including former heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali and golfing great Arnold Palmer, rock star Prince and U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia. Like former first lady Nancy Reagan and the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of "To Kill a Mockingbird," Harper Lee, who also died this year, Glenn was part of the generation that lived through the deprivations of the Great Depression and the hardships of World War Two.
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Yahoo News article
Howard Bingham, Muhammad Ali's personal photographer, dies at 77
LATimes - 2 months
Howard Bingham, a close friend and longtime photographer of Muhammad Ali who was also known for his community activism, died Thursday afternoon. He was 77.  Bingham died in a Los Angeles hospital. No cause of death was given by his agent, Harlan Werner.  The renowned photographer, who grew up in...
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LATimes article
FBI kept tabs on Muhammad Ali in 1966 during Nation of Islam probe
Reuters.com - 2 months
(Reuters) - The FBI kept a close watch on the activities of Muhammad Ali in 1966, with a particular focus on his links to the Nation of Islam, a black movement that the agency viewed as subversive, according to archival documents posted on the FBI website.
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Reuters.com article
Muhammad Ali letter to Nelson Mandela up for auction in the UK
Fox News - 2 months
A rare letter from boxing legend Muhammad Ali to Nelson Mandela is up for auction in the U.K. this weekend.
Article Link:
Fox News article
Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Muhammad Ali
    LATE_ADULTHOOD
  • 2016
    Age 74
    A funeral procession went through the streets of Louisville on June 10, 2016, ending at Cave Hill Cemetery, where a private interment ceremony occurred.
    More Details Hide Details Ali's grave is marked with a simple granite marker that bears only his name. A public memorial service for Ali at downtown Louisville's KFC Yum! Center was held in the afternoon of June 10. The pallbearers included Will Smith, Lennox Lewis and Mike Tyson, with honorary pallbearers including George Chuvalo, Larry Holmes and George Foreman. Ali had a highly unorthodox boxing style for a heavyweight, epitomized by his catchphrase "float like a butterfly, sting like a bee". Never an overpowering puncher, Ali relied early in his career on his superior hand speed, superb reflexes and constant movement, dancing and circling opponents for most of the fight, holding his hands low and lashing out with a quick, cutting left jab that he threw from unpredictable angles. His footwork was so strong that it was extremely difficult for opponents to cut down the ring and corner Ali against the ropes. He was also able to quickly dodge punches with his head movement and footwork.
    Ali was hospitalized in Scottsdale on June 2, 2016, with a respiratory illness.
    More Details Hide Details Though his condition was initially described as "fair", it worsened and he died the following day, at the age of 74, from septic shock. Following Ali's death, he was the number one trending topic on Twitter for over 12 hours and on Facebook was trending topic number one for several days. ESPN played four hours of non-stop commercial-free coverage of Ali. BET played their documentary Muhammad Ali: Made In Miami. News networks such as CNN, BBC, Fox News, and ABC News also covered him extensively. Ali was mourned globally, and a family spokesman said the family "certainly believes that Muhammad was a citizen of the world … and they know that the world grieves with him." Politicians such as Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, David Cameron and more paid tribute to Ali. Ali also received numerous tributes from the world of sports including Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Floyd Mayweather, Mike Tyson, the Miami Marlins, LeBron James, Steph Curry and more. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer stated, "Muhammad Ali belongs to the world. But he only has one hometown."
    In 2016, Ali's daughter Maryum appeared as a volunteer inmate in the reality show 60 Days In.
    More Details Hide Details Ali said that he first heard of the Nation of Islam when he was fighting in the Golden Gloves tournament in Chicago in 1959, and attended his first Nation of Islam meeting in 1961. He continued to attend meetings, although keeping his involvement hidden from the public. In 1962, Clay met Malcolm X, who soon became his spiritual and political mentor. By the time of the first Liston fight, Nation of Islam members, including Malcolm X, were visible in his entourage. This led to a story in The Miami Herald just before the fight disclosing that Clay had joined the Nation of Islam, which nearly caused the bout to be canceled.
    In June 2016, US senator Rand Paul proposed an amendment to the US draft laws named after Ali, a proposal to eliminate the Selective Service System.
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    In May 2016, a bill was introduced to United States Congress by Markwayne Mullin, a politician and former MMA fighter, to extend the Ali Act to mixed martial arts.
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  • 2015
    Age 73
    Ali was once again hospitalized on January 15, 2015, for a urinary tract infection after being found unresponsive at a guest house in Scottsdale, Arizona.
    More Details Hide Details He was released the next day.
  • 2014
    Age 72
    On December 20, 2014, Ali was hospitalized for a mild case of pneumonia.
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  • 2013
    Age 71
    In February 2013, Ali's brother Rahman Ali said Muhammad could no longer speak and could be dead within days.
    More Details Hide Details Ali's daughter May May Ali responded to the rumors, stating that she had talked to him on the phone the morning of February 3 and he was fine.
  • 2012
    Age 70
    On July 27, 2012, Ali was a titular bearer of the Olympic Flag during the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
    More Details Hide Details He was helped to his feet by his wife Lonnie to stand before the flag due to his Parkinson's rendering him unable to carry it into the stadium. In 2014, Ali tweeted in support of Trayvon Martin and the Black Lives Matter movement.
  • 2009
    Age 67
    On September 1, 2009, Ali visited Ennis, County Clare, Ireland, the home of his great-grandfather, Abe Grady, who emigrated to the U.S. in the 1860s, eventually settling in Kentucky.
    More Details Hide Details A crowd of 10,000 turned out for a civic reception, where Ali was made the first Honorary Freeman of Ennis.
  • 2007
    Age 65
    On June 5, 2007, he received an honorary doctorate of humanities at Princeton University's 260th graduation ceremony.
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  • 2005
    Age 63
    On November 19, 2005 (Ali's 19th wedding anniversary), the $60million non-profit Muhammad Ali Center opened in downtown Louisville.
    More Details Hide Details In addition to displaying his boxing memorabilia, the center focuses on core themes of peace, social responsibility, respect, and personal growth.
    In November 2005, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush, followed by the Otto Hahn Peace Medal in Gold of the UN Association of Germany (DGVN) in Berlin for his work with the U.S. civil rights movement and the United Nations (December 17, 2005).
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  • FIFTIES
  • 2002
    Age 60
    On November 17, 2002, Ali went to Afghanistan as the "U.N. Messenger of Peace".
    More Details Hide Details He was in Kabul for a three-day goodwill mission as a special guest of the UN.
  • 2001
    Age 59
    After the September 11 attacks in 2001, he stated that "Islam is a religion of peace" and "does not promote terrorism or killing people", and that he is "angry that the world sees a certain group of Islam followers who caused this destruction, but they are not real Muslims.
    More Details Hide Details They are racist fanatics who call themselves Muslims". In December 2015, he stated that "True Muslims know that the ruthless violence of so-called Islamic jihadists goes against the very tenets of our religion", that "We as Muslims have to stand up to those who use Islam to advance their own personal agenda", and that "political leaders should use their position to bring understanding about the religion of Islam, and clarify that these misguided murderers have perverted people's views on what Islam really is." You my opposer when I want freedom. You my opposer when I want justice. You my opposer when I want equality.
    On January 8, 2001, Muhammad Ali was presented with the Presidential Citizens Medal by President Bill Clinton.
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  • 2000
    Age 58
    In 2000, Ali worked with the Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Disease to raise awareness and encourage donations for research.
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  • 1998
    Age 56
    In 1998, Ali began working with actor Michael J Fox, who has Parkinson's disease, to raise awareness and fund research for a cure.
    More Details Hide Details They made a joint appearance before Congress to push the case in 2002.
  • 1996
    Age 54
    When We Were Kings, a 1996 documentary about the Rumble in the Jungle, won an Academy Award, and the 2001 biopic Ali garnered an Oscar nomination for Will Smith's portrayal of the lead role.
    More Details Hide Details The latter film was directed by Michael Mann, with mixed reviews, the positives given to Smith's portrayal of Ali. Prior to making the film, Smith rejected the role until Ali requested that he accept it. Smith said the first thing Ali told him was: "Man you're almost pretty enough to play me." In 2002, for his contributions to the entertainment industry, Ali was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6801 Hollywood Boulevard. His star is the only one to be mounted on a vertical surface, out of deference to his request that his name not be walked upon. The Trials of Muhammad Ali, a documentary directed by Bill Siegel that focuses on Ali's refusal of the draft during the Vietnam War, opened in Manhattan on August 23, 2013. A made-for-TV movie called Muhammad Ali's Greatest Fight, also in 2013, dramatized the same aspect of Ali's life.
    In 1996, he had the honor of lighting the flame at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia.
    More Details Hide Details Ali's bout with Parkinson's led to a gradual decline in his health, though he was still active into the early years of the millennium, promoting his own biopic, Ali, in 2001. Ali also contributed an on-camera segment to the America: A Tribute to Heroes benefit concert.
  • 1993
    Age 51
    The match inspired Inoki's students Masakatsu Funaki and Minoru Suzuki to found Pancrase in 1993, which in turn inspired the foundation of Pride Fighting Championships in 1997. Pride was later acquired by its rival Ultimate Fighting Championship in 2007.
    More Details Hide Details The Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act was introduced in 1999 and passed in 2000, to protect the rights and welfare of boxers in the United States.
  • FORTIES
  • 1991
    Age 49
    Ali published an oral history, Muhammad Ali: His Life and Times by Thomas Hauser, in 1991.
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  • 1990
    Age 48
    In 1990, Ali traveled to Iraq prior to the Gulf War, and met with Saddam Hussein in an attempt to negotiate the release of American hostages.
    More Details Hide Details Ali successfully secured the release of the hostages, in exchange for promising Hussein that he'd bring America "an honest account" of Iraq. Despite rescuing hostages, he received criticism from President George H. W. Bush, diplomat Joseph C. Wilson, and The New York Times.
  • 1989
    Age 47
    In 1989, he participated in an Indian charity event with the Muslim Educational Society in Kozhikode, Kerala, along with Bollywood actor Dilip Kumar.
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  • 1988
    Age 46
    In 1988, during the First Intifada, Ali participated in a Chicago rally in support of Palestine.
    More Details Hide Details The same year, he visited Sudan to raise awareness about the plight of famine victims.
    Kiiursti Mensah-Ali claims to be Ali's biological daughter with Barbara Mensah, with whom he had a 20-year relationship, citing photographs and a paternity test conducted in 1988.
    More Details Hide Details She said he accepted responsibility and took care of her, but all contacts with him were cut off after he married his fourth wife Lonnie. Kiiursti claims to have a relationship with his other children. After his death she again made passionate appeals to be allowed to mourn at his funeral. Ali then lived in Scottsdale, Arizona, with Lonnie. In January 2007 it was reported that they had put their home in Berrien Springs, Michigan, up for sale and had purchased a home in eastern Jefferson County, Kentucky for $1,875,000. Lonnie converted to Islam from Catholicism in her late twenties. Ali's daughter Laila became a boxer in 1999, despite her father's earlier comments against female boxing in 1978: "Women are not made to be hit in the breast, and face like that... the body's not made to be punched right here his chest. Get hit in the breast... hard... and all that."
  • 1987
    Age 45
    Around 1987, the California Bicentennial Foundation for the U.S. Constitution selected Ali to personify the vitality of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights.
    More Details Hide Details Ali rode on a float at the following year's Tournament of Roses Parade, launching the U.S. Constitution's 200th birthday commemoration.
  • 1986
    Age 44
    On November 19, 1986, Ali married Yolanda ("Lonnie") Williams.
    More Details Hide Details They had been friends since 1964 in Louisville. They had one son, Asaad Amin, whom they adopted when Amin was five months old.
    By 1986, Ali and Porché were divorced.
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  • 1985
    Age 43
    In 1985, he visited Israel to request the release of Muslim prisoners at Atlit detainee camp, which Israel declined.
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  • 1984
    Age 42
    In 1984, Ali announced his support for the re-election of United States President Ronald Reagan.
    More Details Hide Details When asked to elaborate on his endorsement of Reagan, Ali told reporters, "He's keeping God in schools and that's enough."
    Ali was diagnosed with Parkinson's syndrome in 1984, a disease that sometimes results from head trauma from activities such as boxing.
    More Details Hide Details Ali still remained active during this time, however, later participating as a guest referee at WrestleMania I.
  • THIRTIES
  • 1981
    Age 39
    On January 19, 1981, in Los Angeles, Ali talked a suicidal man down from jumping off a ninth-floor ledge, an event that made national news.
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  • 1980
    Age 38
    In 1980, he visited Kenya and successfully convinced the government to boycott the Moscow Olympics (in response to the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan).
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  • 1978
    Age 36
    In 1978, following his defeat to Spinks and before winning the rematch, Ali visited Bangladesh and received honorary citizenship there.
    More Details Hide Details The same year, he participated in The Longest Walk, a protest march in the United States in support of Native American rights, along with singer Stevie Wonder and actor Marlon Brando.
  • 1977
    Age 35
    In 1977, he said that, after he retired, he would dedicate the rest of his life to getting "ready to meet God" by helping people, charitable causes, uniting people and helping to make peace.
    More Details Hide Details He went on another Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca in 1988. In his later life, he had taken an interest in Sufism, which he referenced in his autobiography, The Soul of a Butterfly.
    Their second daughter, Laila Ali, was born in December 1977.
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    By the summer of 1977, his second marriage was over and he had married Porché.
    More Details Hide Details At the time of their marriage, they had a baby girl, Hana, and Veronica was pregnant with their second child.
    After returning to beat Alfredo Evangelista in May 1977, Ali struggled in his next fight against Earnie Shavers that September, getting pummeled a few times by punches to the head.
    More Details Hide Details Ali won the fight by another unanimous decision, but the bout caused his longtime doctor Ferdie Pacheco to quit after he was rebuffed for telling Ali he should retire. Pacheco was quoted as saying, "the New York State Athletic Commission gave me a report that showed Ali's kidneys were falling apart. I wrote to Angelo Dundee, Ali's trainer, his wife and Ali himself. I got nothing back in response. That's when I decided enough is enough." In February 1978, Ali faced Leon Spinks at the Hilton Hotel in Las Vegas. At the time, Spinks had only seven professional fights to his credit, and had recently fought a draw with journeyman Scott LeDoux. Ali sparred less than two dozen rounds in preparation for the fight, and was seriously out of shape by the opening bell. He lost the title by split decision. A rematch followed shortly thereafter in New Orleans, which broke attendance records. Ali won a unanimous decision in an uninspiring fight, making him the first heavyweight champion to win the belt three times.
  • 1976
    Age 34
    He later received a second Grammy nomination, for "Best Recording for Children", with his 1976 spoken word novelty record, The Adventures of Ali and His Gang vs. Mr. Tooth Decay.
    More Details Hide Details Ali was an influential figure in the world of hip hop music. As a "rhyming trickster", he was noted for his "funky delivery", "boasts", "comical trash talk", and "endless quotables". According to Rolling Stone, his "freestyle skills" and his "rhymes, flow, and braggadocio" would "one day become typical of old school MCs" like Run–D.M.C. and LL Cool J, and his "outsized ego foreshadowed the vainglorious excesses of Kanye West, while his Afrocentric consciousness and cutting honesty pointed forward to modern bards like Rakim, Nas, Jay-Z, and Kendrick Lamar." Ali has been cited as an inspiration by rappers such as LL Cool J, Public Enemy's Chuck D, Jay-Z, Eminem, Sean Combs, Slick Rick, Nas and MC Lyte. Ali has been referenced in a number of hip hop songs, including The Sugarhill Gang's "Rapper's Delight", the Fugees' "Ready or Not", EPMD's "You're a Customer" and Will Smith's "Gettin' Jiggy wit It".
    Ali fought Ken Norton for the third time at Yankee Stadium in September 1976, which he won in a heavily contested decision, which was loudly booed by the audience.
    More Details Hide Details Afterwards, he announced he was retiring from boxing to practice his faith, having converted to Sunni Islam after falling out with the Nation of Islam the previous year.
    On June 26, 1976, Ali participated in an exhibition bout in Tokyo against Japanese professional wrestler and martial artist Antonio Inoki.
    More Details Hide Details Though the fight was a publicity stunt, Inoki's kicks caused bruises, two blood clots and an infection in Ali's legs. The match was ultimately declared a draw. After Ali's death, The New York Times declared it his least memorable fight. In hindsight, CBS Sports said the attention the mixed-style bout received "foretold the arrival of standardized MMA years later."
    On June 1, 1976, Ali removed his shirt and jacket and confronted professional wrestler Gorilla Monsoon in the ring after his match at a World Wide Wrestling Federation show in Philadelphia Arena.
    More Details Hide Details After dodging a few punches, Monsoon put Ali in an airplane spin and dumped him to the mat. Ali stumbled to the corner, where his associate Butch Lewis convinced him to walk away.
  • 1975
    Age 33
    In 1975, Ali began an affair with Veronica Porché, an actress and model.
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  • 1974
    Age 32
    The defeat of Frazier set the stage for a title fight against heavyweight champion George Foreman in Kinshasa, Zaire, on October 30, 1974—a bout nicknamed "The Rumble in the Jungle".
    More Details Hide Details Foreman was considered one of the hardest punchers in heavyweight history. In assessing the fight, analysts pointed out that Joe Frazier and Ken Norton—who had given Ali four tough battles and won two of them—had been both devastated by Foreman in second-round knockouts. Ali was 32 years old, and had clearly lost speed and reflexes since his twenties. Contrary to his later persona, Foreman was at the time a brooding and intimidating presence. Almost no one associated with the sport, not even Ali's long-time supporter Howard Cosell, gave the former champion a chance of winning. As usual, Ali was confident and colorful before the fight. He told interviewer David Frost, "If you think the world was surprised when Nixon resigned, wait 'til I whup Foreman's behind!" He told the press, "I've done something new for this fight. I done wrestled with an alligator, I done tussled with a whale; handcuffed lightning, thrown thunder in jail; only last week, I murdered a rock, injured a stone, hospitalized a brick; I'm so mean I make medicine sick." Ali was wildly popular in Zaire, with crowds chanting "Ali, Bomaye" ("Ali, kill him") wherever he went.
    After initially seeking retirement, Ali won a controversial decision against Norton in their second bout, leading to a rematch at Madison Square Garden on January 28, 1974, with Joe Frazier, who had recently lost his title to George Foreman.
    More Details Hide Details Ali was strong in the early rounds of the fight, and staggered Frazier in the second round. Referee Tony Perez mistakenly thought he heard the bell ending the round and stepped between the two fighters as Ali was pressing his attack, giving Frazier time to recover. However, Frazier came on in the middle rounds, snapping Ali's head in round seven and driving him to the ropes at the end of round eight. The last four rounds saw round-to-round shifts in momentum between the two fighters. Throughout most of the bout, however, Ali was able to circle away from Frazier's dangerous left hook and to tie Frazier up when he was cornered, the latter a tactic that Frazier's camp complained of bitterly. Judges awarded Ali a unanimous decision.
  • 1973
    Age 31
    In 1973, Ken Norton broke Ali's jaw while giving him the second loss of his career.
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  • TWENTIES
  • 1972
    Age 30
    After the loss to Frazier, Ali fought Jerry Quarry, had a second bout with Floyd Patterson and faced Bob Foster in 1972, winning a total of six fights that year.
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    On this site, Ali carved out what was to become his training camp, the camp where he lived and trained for all the many fights he had from 1972 on to the end of his career in the 1980s.
    More Details Hide Details The Monday night fight lived up to its billing. In a preview of their two other fights, a crouching, bobbing and weaving Frazier constantly pressured Ali, getting hit regularly by Ali jabs and combinations, but relentlessly attacking and scoring repeatedly, especially to Ali's body. The fight was even in the early rounds, but Ali was taking more punishment than ever in his career. On several occasions in the early rounds he played to the crowd and shook his head "no" after he was hit. In the later rounds—in what was the first appearance of the "rope-a-dope strategy"—Ali leaned against the ropes and absorbed punishment from Frazier, hoping to tire him. In the 11th round, Frazier connected with a left hook that wobbled Ali, but because it appeared that Ali might be clowning as he staggered backwards across the ring, Frazier hesitated to press his advantage, fearing an Ali counter-attack. In the final round, Frazier knocked Ali down with a vicious left hook, which referee Arthur Mercante said was as hard as a man can be hit. Ali was back on his feet in three seconds. Nevertheless, Ali lost by unanimous decision, his first professional defeat.
  • 1971
    Age 29
    Ali began training at a farm near Reading, Pennsylvania, in 1971 and, finding the country setting to his liking, sought to develop a real training camp in the countryside.
    More Details Hide Details He found a five-acre site on a Pennsylvania country road in the village of Deer Lake, Pennsylvania.
    Ali and Frazier's first fight, held at the Garden on March 8, 1971, was nicknamed the "Fight of the Century", due to the tremendous excitement surrounding a bout between two undefeated fighters, each with a legitimate claim as heavyweight champions.
    More Details Hide Details Veteran boxing writer John Condon called it "the greatest event I've ever worked on in my life". The bout was broadcast to 35 foreign countries; promoters granted 760 press passes. Adding to the atmosphere were the considerable pre-fight theatrics and name calling. Ali portrayed Frazier as a "dumb tool of the white establishment". "Frazier is too ugly to be champ", Ali said. "Frazier is too dumb to be champ." Ali also frequently called Frazier an "Uncle Tom". Dave Wolf, who worked in Frazier's camp, recalled that, "Ali was saying 'the only people rooting for Joe Frazier are white people in suits, Alabama sheriffs, and members of the Ku Klux Klan. I'm fighting for the little man in the ghetto.' Joe was sitting there, smashing his fist into the palm of his hand, saying, 'What the fuck does he know about the ghetto?'"
  • 1970
    Age 28
    On August 11, 1970, with his case still in appeal, Ali was granted a license to box by the City of Atlanta Athletic Commission, thanks to State Senator Leroy R. Johnson.
    More Details Hide Details Ali's first return bout was against Jerry Quarry on October 26, resulting in a win after three rounds after Quarry was cut. A month earlier, a victory in federal court forced the New York State Boxing Commission to reinstate Ali's license. He fought Oscar Bonavena at Madison Square Garden in December, an uninspired performance that ended in a dramatic technical knockout of Bonavena in the 15th round. The win left Ali as a top contender against heavyweight champion Joe Frazier.
  • 1968
    Age 26
    In 1968, Ali sued radio producer Murray Woroner for $1 million stating defamation of character, after Woroner announced the broadcast of a series of "fantasy fight" specials created by computer simulation in which 8 fantasy matches were placed through the use of an NCR 315 computer and approximately 250 boxing experts.
    More Details Hide Details Known statistics, fighting styles, patterns and other factors determined the probable outcome. Ali had been placed in a fantasy fight with several boxers, and was unhappy regarding the outcome of his quarter final fantasy bout with Jim Jeffries in which he was predicted to have lost. Ali settled for a $10,000 payoff from Woroner in exchange for his participation in a filmed version of a fantasy fight with boxing legend Rocky Marciano, who had retired 13 years earlier while World Heavyweight Champion and finished his career undefeated at 49–0. Both men received cuts of the film's profits as part of their agreement to participate and commenced filming in 1969 in Miami, Florida. The two fighters sparred between 70 and 75 1-minute rounds, which were later edited according to the findings of the computer. The final outcome was not revealed until the release of the film on January 20, 1970, where the fight was shown in over 1500 theaters over closed-circuit television in the United States, Canada and Europe. The film depicted that had the fight been actual, Marciano defeated Ali in the 13th round.
  • 1967
    Age 25
    On August 17, 1967, Ali married Belinda Boyd.
    More Details Hide Details After the wedding, she, like Ali, converted to Islam. She changed her name to Khalilah Ali, though she was still called Belinda by old friends and family. They had four children: Maryum "May May" (born 1968), twins Jamillah and Rasheda (born 1970; Rasheda married Robert Walsh and has a son Biaggio Ali, born in 1998), and Muhammad Ali Jr. (born 1972). Maryum has a career as an author and rapper. Ali was a resident of Cherry Hill, New Jersey, in the early 1970s. He had two other daughters, Miya and Khaliah, from extramarital relationships.
    As a result, he did not fight from March 1967 to October 1970—from ages 25 to almost 29—as his case worked its way through the appeals process before his conviction was overturned in 1971.
    More Details Hide Details During this time of inactivity, as opposition to the Vietnam War began to grow and Ali's stance gained sympathy, he spoke at colleges across the nation, criticizing the Vietnam War and advocating African American pride and racial justice.
  • 1966
    Age 24
    In March 1966, Ali refused to be inducted into the armed forces.
    More Details Hide Details He was systematically denied a boxing license in every state and stripped of his passport.
    Ali returned to the United States to fight Cleveland Williams in the Houston Astrodome on November 14, 1966.
    More Details Hide Details The bout drew a record-breaking indoor crowd of 35,460 people. Williams had once been considered among the hardest punchers in the heavyweight division, but in 1964 he had been shot at point-blank range by a Texas policeman, resulting in the loss of one kidney and of his small intestine. Ali dominated Williams, winning a third-round technical knockout in what some consider the finest performance of his career. Ali fought Terrell in Houston on February 6, 1967. Terrell was billed as Ali's toughest opponent since Liston—unbeaten in five years and having defeated many of the boxers Ali had faced. Terrell was big, strong and had a three-inch reach advantage over Ali. During the lead up to the bout, Terrell repeatedly called Ali "Clay", much to Ali's annoyance (Ali called Cassius Clay his "slave name"). The two almost came to blows over the name issue in a pre-fight interview with Howard Cosell. Ali seemed intent on humiliating Terrell. "I want to torture him", he said. "A clean knockout is too good for him." The fight was close until the seventh round when Ali bloodied Terrell and almost knocked him out. In the eighth round, Ali taunted Terrell, hitting him with jabs and shouting between punches, "What's my name, Uncle Tom... what's my name?" Ali won a unanimous 15-round decision. Terrell claimed that early in the fight Ali deliberately thumbed him in the eye—forcing Terrell to fight half-blind—and then, in a clinch, rubbed the wounded eye against the ropes.
    Ali and then-WBA heavyweight champion boxer Ernie Terrell had agreed to meet for a bout in Chicago on March 29, 1966 (the WBA, one of two boxing associations, had stripped Ali of his title following his joining the Nation of Islam).
    More Details Hide Details But in February Ali was reclassified by the Louisville draft board as 1-A from 1-Y, and he indicated that he would refuse to serve, commenting to the press, "I ain't got nothing against no Viet Cong; no Viet Cong never called me nigger." Amidst the media and public outcry over Ali's stance, the Illinois Athletic Commission refused to sanction the fight, citing technicalities. Instead, Ali traveled to Canada and Europe and won championship bouts against George Chuvalo, Henry Cooper, Brian London and Karl Mildenberger.
  • 1965
    Age 23
    Ali defended his title against former heavyweight champion Floyd Patterson on November 22, 1965.
    More Details Hide Details Before the match, Ali mocked Patterson, who was widely known to call him by his former name Cassius Clay, as an "Uncle Tom", calling him "The Rabbit". Although Ali clearly had the better of Patterson, who appeared injured during the fight, the match lasted 12 rounds before being called on a technical knockout. Patterson later said he had strained his sacroiliac. Ali was criticized in the sports media for appearing to have toyed with Patterson during the fight.
    Soon after the Liston fight, Clay changed his name to Cassius X, and then later to Muhammad Ali upon converting to Islam and affiliating with the Nation of Islam. Ali then faced a rematch with Liston scheduled for May 1965 in Lewiston, Maine.
    More Details Hide Details It had been scheduled for Boston the previous November, but was postponed for six months due to Ali's emergency surgery for a hernia three days before. The fight was controversial. Midway through the first round, Liston was knocked down by a difficult-to-see blow the press dubbed a "phantom punch". Ali refused to retreat to a neutral corner, and referee Jersey Joe Walcott did not begin the count. Liston rose after he had been down about 20 seconds, and the fight momentarily continued. But a few seconds later Walcott stopped the match, declaring Ali the winner by knockout. The entire fight lasted less than two minutes. It has since been speculated that Liston dropped to the ground purposely. Proposed motivations include threats on his life from the Nation of Islam, that he had bet against himself and that he "took a dive" to pay off debts. Slow-motion replays show that Liston was jarred by a chopping right from Ali, although it is unclear whether the blow was a genuine knock-out punch.
  • 1964
    Age 22
    In fact, Clay was initially refused entry to the Nation of Islam (often called the Black Muslims at the time) due to his boxing career. However, after he won the championship from Liston in 1964, the Nation of Islam was more receptive and agreed to publicize his membership.
    More Details Hide Details Shortly afterwards, Elijah Muhammad recorded a statement that Clay would be renamed Muhammad (one who is worthy of praise) Ali (Ali is the most important figure after Muhammad in Shia view and fourth rightly guided caliph in Sunni view). Around that time Ali moved to the south side of Chicago and lived in a series of houses, always near the Nation of Islam's Mosque Maryam or Elijah Muhammad's residence. He stayed in Chicago for about 12 years. Only a few journalists (most notably Howard Cosell) accepted the new name at that time. Ali later announced: "Cassius Clay is my slave name." Not afraid to antagonize the white establishment, Ali stated, "I am America. I am the part you won't recognize. But get used to me. Black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own; get used to me." Ali's friendship with Malcolm X ended as Malcolm split with the Nation of Islam a couple of weeks after Ali joined, and Ali remained with the Nation of Islam. Ali later said that turning his back on Malcolm was one of the mistakes he regretted most in his life.
    Ali was married four times and had seven daughters and two sons. Ali met his first wife, cocktail waitress Sonji Roi, approximately one month before they married on August 14, 1964. Roi's objections to certain Muslim customs in regard to dress for women contributed to the breakup of their marriage. They divorced on January 10, 1966.
    More Details Hide Details
    Between February 25, 1964, and September 19, 1964, Ali reigned as the undisputed heavyweight champion.
    More Details Hide Details He is the only boxer to be named The Ring magazine Fighter of the Year six times. He was ranked as the greatest athlete of the 20th century by Sports Illustrated and the Sports Personality of the Century by the BBC. ESPN SportsCentury ranked him the 3rd greatest athlete of the 20th century. Nicknamed "The Greatest", he was involved in several historic boxing matches. Notable among these were the first Liston fight; the "Fight of the Century", "Super Fight II" and the "Thrilla in Manila" versus his rival Joe Frazier; and "The Rumble in the Jungle" versus George Foreman. At a time when most fighters let their managers do the talking, Ali thrived in—and indeed craved—the spotlight, where he was often provocative and outlandish. He was known for trash talking, and often freestyled with rhyme schemes and spoken word poetry, both for his trash talking in boxing and as political poetry for his activism, anticipating elements of rap and hip hop music. As a musician, Ali recorded two spoken word albums and a rhythm and blues song, and received two Grammy Award nominations. As an actor, he performed in several films and a Broadway musical. Ali wrote two autobiographies, one during and one after his boxing career.
    He remains the only three-time lineal heavyweight champion; he won the title in 1964, 1974, and 1978.
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  • TEENAGE
  • 1962
    Age 20
    Ali registered for conscription in the United States military on his 18th birthday and was listed as 1-A in 1962.
    More Details Hide Details In 1964, he was reclassified as Class 1-Y (fit for service only in times of national emergency) after he failed the U.S. Armed Forces qualifying test because his writing and spelling skills were sub-standard. (He was quoted as saying, "I said I was the greatest, not the smartest!") By early 1966, the army lowered its standards to permit soldiers above the 15th percentile and Ali was again classified as 1-A. This classification meant he was now eligible for the draft and induction into the U.S. Army at a time when the U.S. was involved in the Vietnam War, a war which put him further at odds with the white establishment. When notified of this status, Ali declared that he would refuse to serve in the army and publicly considered himself a conscientious objector. Ali stated: "War is against the teachings of the Qur'an. I'm not trying to dodge the draft. We are not supposed to take part in no wars unless declared by Allah or The Messenger. We don't take part in Christian wars or wars of any unbelievers." He stated: "Man, I ain't got no quarrel with them Viet Cong." Ali elaborated: "Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go ten thousand miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights?"
  • 1960
    Age 18
    After Clay left Moore's camp in 1960, partially due to Clay's refusing to do chores such as dish-washing and sweeping, he hired Angelo Dundee, whom he had met in February 1957 during Ali's amateur career, to be his trainer.
    More Details Hide Details Around this time, Clay sought longtime idol Sugar Ray Robinson to be his manager, but was rebuffed. By late 1963, Clay had become the top contender for Sonny Liston's title. The fight was set for February 25, 1964, in Miami Beach. Liston was an intimidating personality, a dominating fighter with a criminal past and ties to the mob. Based on Clay's uninspired performance against Jones and Cooper in his previous two fights, and Liston's destruction of former heavyweight champion Floyd Patterson in two first-round knock outs, Clay was a 7–1 underdog. Despite this, Clay taunted Liston during the pre-fight buildup, dubbing him "the big ugly bear". "Liston even smells like a bear", Clay said. "After I beat him I'm going to donate him to the zoo." Clay turned the pre-fight weigh-in into a circus, shouting at Liston that "someone is going to die at ringside tonight". Clay's pulse rate was measured at 120, more than double his normal 54. Many of those in attendance thought Clay's behavior stemmed from fear, and some commentators wondered if he would show up for the bout.
    Clay made his professional debut on October 29, 1960, winning a six-round decision over Tunney Hunsaker.
    More Details Hide Details From then until the end of 1963, Clay amassed a record of 19–0 with 15 wins by knockout. He defeated boxers including Tony Esperti, Jim Robinson, Donnie Fleeman, Alonzo Johnson, George Logan, Willi Besmanoff, Lamar Clark, Doug Jones and Henry Cooper. Clay also beat his former trainer and veteran boxer Archie Moore in a 1962 match. These early fights were not without trials. Clay was knocked down both by Sonny Banks and Cooper. In the Cooper fight, Clay was floored by a left hook at the end of round four and was saved by the bell. The fight with Doug Jones on March 13, 1963, was Clay's toughest fight during this stretch. The number-two and -three heavyweight contenders respectively, Clay and Jones fought on Jones' home turf at New York's Madison Square Garden. Jones staggered Clay in the first round, and the unanimous decision for Clay was greeted by boos and a rain of debris thrown into the ring (watching on closed-circuit TV, heavyweight champ Sonny Liston quipped that if he fought Clay he might get locked up for murder). The fight was later named "Fight of the Year" by Ring Magazine.
    He went on to win six Kentucky Golden Gloves titles, two national Golden Gloves titles, an Amateur Athletic Union national title, and the Light Heavyweight gold medal in the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome.
    More Details Hide Details Clay's amateur record was 100 wins with five losses. Ali said in his 1975 autobiography that shortly after his return from the Rome Olympics, he threw his gold medal into the Ohio River after he and a friend were refused service at a "whites-only" restaurant and fought with a white gang. The story was later disputed and several of Ali's friends, including Bundini Brown and photographer Howard Bingham, denied it. Brown told Sports Illustrated writer Mark Kram, "Honkies sure bought into that one!" Thomas Hauser's biography of Ali stated that Ali was refused service at the diner but that he lost his medal a year after he won it. Ali received a replacement medal at a basketball intermission during the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, where he lit the torch to start the games.
  • 1954
    Age 12
    Clay made his amateur boxing debut in 1954 against local amateur boxer Ronnie O'Keefe.
    More Details Hide Details He won by split decision.
  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1942
    Age 0
    Born on January 17, 1942.
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