Muhammad Ali won the world heavyweight championship, defeating Sonny Liston in a major upset on February 25,1964, at age 22.
169 Facts About Muhammad Ali
In 1966, Muhammad Ali refused to be drafted into the military owing to his religious beliefs and ethical opposition to the Vietnam War and was found guilty of draft evasion and stripped of his boxing titles.
Muhammad Ali stayed out of prison while appealing the decision to the Supreme Court, where his conviction was overturned in 1971.
Muhammad Ali did not fight for nearly four years and lost a period of peak performance as an athlete.
Muhammad Ali's actions as a conscientious objector to the Vietnam War made him an icon for the larger counterculture of the 1960s generation, and he was a very high-profile figure of racial pride for African Americans during the civil rights movement and throughout his career.
Muhammad Ali later disavowed the NOI, adhering to Sunni Islam.
Muhammad Ali fought in several historic boxing matches, including his highly publicized fights with Sonny Liston, Joe Frazier, the Thrilla in Manila, and his fight with George Foreman in The Rumble in the Jungle.
Muhammad Ali thrived in the spotlight at a time when many boxers let their managers do the talking, and he became renowned for his provocative and outlandish persona.
Muhammad Ali was famous for trash-talking, often free-styled with rhyme schemes and spoken word poetry incorporating elements of hip hop.
Muhammad Ali often predicted in which round he would knock out his opponent.
Muhammad Ali featured as an actor and writer, releasing two autobiographies.
Muhammad Ali retired from boxing in 1981 and focused on religion, philanthropy and activism.
Muhammad Ali remained an active public figure globally, but in his later years made fewer public appearances as his condition worsened, and he was cared for by his family.
Muhammad Ali was named after his father, Cassius Marcellus Clay Sr.
Muhammad Ali was a descendant of slaves of the antebellum South, and was predominantly of African descent, with Irish and English family heritage.
DNA testing performed in 2018 showed that, through his paternal grandmother, Muhammad Ali was a descendant of the former slave Archer Alexander, who had been chosen from the building crew as the model of a freed man for the Emancipation Memorial, and was the subject of abolitionist William Greenleaf Eliot's book, The Story of Archer Alexander: From Slavery to Freedom.
Muhammad Ali's father was a sign and billboard painter, and his mother, Odessa O'Grady Clay, was a domestic helper.
Muhammad Ali was dyslexic, which led to difficulties in reading and writing, at school and for much of his life.
Muhammad Ali told the officer he was going to "whup" the thief.
Muhammad Ali 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.
Muhammad 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 Muhammad Ali's friends, including Bundini Brown and photographer Howard Bingham, denied it.
Muhammad Ali received a replacement medal at the Georgia Dome during the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, where he lit the torch to start the Games.
Muhammad Ali called Jones "an ugly little man" and Cooper a "bum".
Muhammad Ali stated in a 1969 interview with the Associated Press' Hubert Mizel that he met with George in Las Vegas in 1961, that George told him that talking a big game would earn paying fans who either wanted to see him win or wanted to see him lose, thus Muhammad Ali transformed himself into a self-described "big-mouth and a bragger".
Muhammad Ali then faced a rematch with Liston scheduled for May 1965 in Lewiston, Maine.
Referee Jersey Joe Walcott did not begin the count immediately after the knockdown, as Muhammad Ali refused to retreat to a neutral corner.
Slow-motion replays show that Liston was jarred by a chopping right from Muhammad Ali, although it is unclear whether the blow was a genuine knockout punch.
Muhammad Ali defended his title against former heavyweight champion Floyd Patterson on November 22,1965.
Muhammad Ali was criticized in the sports media for appearing to have toyed with Patterson during the fight.
Stratton cites an interview by Howard Cosell in which Muhammad Ali explained that rather than toying with Patterson, he refrained from knocking him out after it became apparent Patterson was injured.
Stratton states that Muhammad Ali arranged the second fight, in 1972, with the financially struggling Patterson to help the former champion earn enough money to pay a debt to the IRS.
Muhammad Ali mainly handled Ali's boxing promotions and pay-per-view closed-circuit television broadcasts.
Muhammad Ali returned to the United States to fight Cleveland Williams at the Astrodome in Houston on November 14,1966.
Muhammad Ali dominated Williams, winning a third-round technical knockout in what some consider the finest performance of his career.
Terrell claimed that early in the fight Muhammad Ali deliberately thumbed him in the eye, forcing him to fight half-blind, and then, in a clinch, rubbed the wounded eye against the ropes.
Muhammad Ali paid a bond and remained free while the verdict was being appealed.
Muhammad Ali registered for conscription in the United States military on his 18th birthday and was listed as 1-A in 1962.
Once more, Muhammad Ali refused to budge when his name was called, and he was arrested.
Muhammad Ali remained unable to obtain a license to box in any state for over three years.
Muhammad Ali remained free in the years between the Appellate Court decision and the Supreme Court ruling.
Civil rights figures came to believe that Muhammad Ali had an energizing effect on the freedom movement as a whole.
Muhammad Ali knew he was going to jail and did it anyway.
In 1971, Muhammad Ali's Fight of the Century with Frazier was used by an activist group, the Citizens' Commission to Investigate the FBI, to pull off a burglary at an FBI office in Pennsylvania; the anticipation for the fight was unlike anything else, so they believed the security would be focused on the fight.
In March 1966, Muhammad Ali refused to be inducted into the armed forces.
Muhammad Ali was systematically denied a boxing license in every state and stripped of his passport.
At the time, Muhammad Ali was widely condemned by the American media, with fears that his actions could potentially lead to mass civil disobedience.
Muhammad 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.
Muhammad Ali found a five-acre site on a Pennsylvania country road in the village of Deer Lake, Pennsylvania.
On this site, Muhammad Ali carved out what was to become his training camp, where he trained for all his fights from 1972 to the end of his career in 1981.
Nevertheless, Muhammad Ali lost by unanimous decision, his first professional defeat.
Muhammad Ali won the bout through a technical knockout when the referee stopped the fight in the twelfth round.
Muhammad 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 Muhammad Ali was pressing his attack, giving Frazier time to recover.
Muhammad Ali was 32 years old, and had clearly lost speed and reflexes since his twenties.
Muhammad Ali opened the fight moving and scoring with right crosses to Foreman's head.
Midway through the fight, as Foreman began tiring, Muhammad Ali countered more frequently and effectively with punches and flurries, which electrified the pro-Muhammad Ali crowd.
Muhammad Ali then agreed to a third match with Joe Frazier in Manila.
However, Muhammad Ali soon appeared to tire and adopted the "rope-a-dope" strategy, frequently resorting to clinches.
On February 2,1976, Muhammad Ali defeated Jean-Pierre Coopman by 5th round knockout.
On May 24,1976, Muhammad Ali defeated Richard Dunn, winning by 5th round technical knockout.
The Dunn fight was the last time Muhammad Ali would knock an opponent out in his boxing career.
Muhammad Ali fought Ken Norton for the third time in September 1976.
The bout, which was held at Yankee Stadium, resulted in Muhammad Ali winning a controversial decision that ringside commentators had scored in favor of Norton.
Muhammad 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 Muhammad Ali he should retire.
In February 1978, Muhammad Ali faced Leon Spinks at the Hilton Hotel in Las Vegas.
Muhammad Ali sparred less than two dozen rounds in preparation for the fight, and was seriously out of shape by the opening bell.
Muhammad Ali's retirement was short-lived, however; Ali announced his comeback to face Larry Holmes for the WBC belt in an attempt to win the heavyweight championship an unprecedented fourth time.
Muhammad Ali knew Ali had nothing left; he knew it would be a horror.
On October 2,1980, Muhammad Ali returned to the ring to fight Holmes at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.
Immediately after the fight, Muhammad Ali was given painkillers and antidepressants, in violation of World Boxing Council rules prohibiting the administration of any drug before the postfight urinalysis.
Muhammad Ali boxed both well known boxers and celebrities from other walks of life, including Michael Dokes, Antonio Inoki, Lyle Alzado, Dave Semenko, and the famous Puerto Rican comedian Jose Miguel Agrelot.
On June 26,1976, Muhammad Ali participated in an exhibition bout in Tokyo against Japanese professional wrestler and martial artist Antonio Inoki.
In 1979, Muhammad Ali fought an exhibition match against NFL player Lyle Alzado.
Muhammad Ali fought NHL player, Dave Semenko in an exhibition on June 12,1983.
The match was officially a draw after going three rounds, but the Associated Press reported Muhammad Ali was not seriously trying and was just toying with Semenko.
Muhammad Ali was married four times and had seven daughters and two sons.
Muhammad Ali wore lipstick; she went into bars; she dressed in clothes that were revealing and didn't look right.
Muhammad Ali was a resident of Cherry Hill, New Jersey in suburban Philadelphia in the early 1970s.
Muhammad Ali served as the vice president and treasurer until the sale of the company in 2006.
Muhammad Ali said he accepted responsibility and took care of her, but all contacts with him were cut off after he married his fourth wife Lonnie.
Muhammad Ali further alleged that Ali had originally supported her and her son financially, but stopped doing so after four years.
Muhammad Ali's daughter Laila was a professional boxer from 1999 until 2007, despite her father's previous opposition to women's boxing.
Muhammad 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.
Muhammad Ali continued to attend meetings, although keeping his involvement hidden from the public.
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.
Muhammad Ali later said that turning his back on Malcolm was one of the mistakes he regretted most in his life.
The Nation of Islam was widely viewed by whites and some African Americans as a black separatist "hate religion" with a propensity toward violence; Muhammad Ali had few qualms about using his influential voice to speak Nation of Islam doctrine.
Muhammad Ali still believes that even good Christians or good Jews can receive God's blessing and enter heaven as he stated, "God created all people, no matter what their religion".
Muhammad Ali said some people didn't like the change and stuck to Elijah's teachings, but he admired it and so left Elijah's teachings and became a follower of Sunni Islam.
Muhammad Ali had gone on the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca in 1972, which inspired him in a similar manner to Malcolm X, meeting people of different colors from all over the world giving him a different outlook and greater spiritual awareness.
Muhammad Ali went on another Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca in 1988.
Muhammad Ali developed an interest in Sufism, which he referenced in his autobiography, The Soul of a Butterfly.
Muhammad Ali received guidance from Islamic scholars such as Grand Mufti of Syria Al Marhum Al Sheikh Ahmed Kuftaro, Hisham Kabbani, Imam Zaid Shakir, Hamza Yusuf, and Timothy J Gianotti, who was at Ali's bedside during his last days and ensured that although his funeral was interfaith, it was still in accordance with Islamic rites and rituals.
In 1976, inventor Alan Amron and businessman Joel Sacher partnered with Muhammad Ali to promote The International Committee to Reunite the Beatles.
Muhammad Ali said the idea was not to use the proceeds for profit, but to establish an international agency to help poor children.
Muhammad Ali had a cameo role in the 1962 film version of Requiem for a Heavyweight, and during his exile from boxing, he starred in the short-lived 1969 Broadway musical, Buck White.
Muhammad Ali appeared in the documentary film Black Rodeo riding both a horse and a bull.
In 1977 the book was adapted into a film called The Greatest, in which Muhammad Ali played himself and Ernest Borgnine played Angelo Dundee.
Muhammad Ali often used rhyme schemes and spoken word poetry, both for when he was trash talking in boxing and as political poetry for his activism outside of boxing.
Muhammad Ali played a role in the shaping of the black poetic tradition, paving the way for The Last Poets in 1968, Gil Scott-Heron in 1970, and the emergence of rap music in the 1970s.
In 1963, Muhammad Ali released an album of spoken word music on Columbia Records titled, I Am the Greatest, and in 1964, he recorded a cover version of the rhythm and blues song "Stand by Me".
Muhammad Ali 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.
Muhammad Ali was an influential figure in the world of hip hop music.
Muhammad Ali was a boxer and an activist, but he had a role in influencing what now dominated pop-culture, hip-hop.
In 2006, the documentary Muhammad Ali Rap was produced by ESPN.
Muhammad 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.
Muhammad Ali was involved with professional wrestling at different times in his career.
On June 1,1976, as Muhammad Ali was preparing for his bout with Inoki, he attended a match featuring Gorilla Monsoon.
Muhammad Ali stumbled to the corner, where his associate Butch Lewis convinced him to walk away.
On March 31,1985, Muhammad Ali was the special guest referee for the main event of the inaugural WrestleMania event.
In 1995, Muhammad Ali led a group of Japanese and American professional wrestlers, including his 1976 opponent Antonio Inoki and Ric Flair, on a sports diplomacy mission to North Korea.
Muhammad Ali was guest of honor at the record-breaking Collision in Korea, a wrestling event with the largest attendance of all time.
Muhammad Ali's fights were some of the world's most-watched television broadcasts, setting television viewership records.
Muhammad Ali was an amateur artist and made dozens of drawings and paintings in the 1970s.
Muhammad Ali took him up on the offer and produced several paintings for him to sell.
In 1984, Muhammad Ali was diagnosed with Parkinson's syndrome, which sometimes results from head trauma from violent physical activities such as boxing.
Muhammad Ali focused on practicing his Islamic duty of charity and good deeds, donating millions to charity organizations and disadvantaged people of all religious backgrounds.
Muhammad Ali spoke at several historically black colleges and universities about the importance of education, and became the largest single black donor to the United Negro College Fund in 1967 by way of a $10,000 donation.
Muhammad Ali began visiting Africa, starting in 1964 when he visited Nigeria and Ghana.
In early 1980, Muhammad Ali was recruited by President Jimmy Carter for a diplomatic mission to Africa, in an effort to persuade a number of African governments to join the US-led boycott of the Moscow Olympics in protest of the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan.
Muhammad Ali was unable to explain why the African countries should join the US boycott when it had failed to support the African boycott of the 1976 Olympics, although neither did the Soviet Union, and was unaware of the sentiment that the Soviet Union had backed some popular revolutions on the continent, although none of the countries on the itinerary were Soviet allies.
Muhammad Ali did convince the government of Kenya to boycott the Soviet Olympics.
On January 19,1981, in Los Angeles, Muhammad Ali talked a suicidal man down from jumping off a ninth-floor ledge, an event that made national news.
In 1984, Muhammad Ali announced his support for the re-election of United States President Ronald Reagan.
Muhammad Ali rode on a float at the following year's Tournament of Roses Parade, launching the US Constitution's 200th birthday commemoration.
In 1988, during the First Intifada, Muhammad Ali participated in a Chicago rally in support of Palestine.
In 1990, Muhammad Ali traveled to Iraq prior to the Gulf War, and met with Saddam Hussein in an attempt to negotiate the release of American hostages.
Muhammad Ali secured the release of the hostages, in exchange for promising Hussein that he would bring America "an honest account" of Iraq.
In 1994, Muhammad Ali campaigned to the United States government to come to the aid of refugees afflicted by the Rwandan genocide, and to donate to organizations helping Rwandan refugees.
On September 1,2009, Muhammad Ali visited Ennis, County Clare, Ireland, the home of his great-grandfather, Abe Grady, who emigrated to the US in the 1860s, eventually settling in Kentucky.
On July 27,2012, Muhammad Ali was a titular bearer of the Olympic flag during the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
Muhammad Ali was helped to his feet by his wife Lonnie to stand before the flag due to his Parkinson's syndrome rendering him unable to carry it into the stadium.
In 1978, Muhammad Ali revealed that he was "broke" and several news outlets reported his net worth to be an estimated.
In 2006, Muhammad Ali sold his name and image for $50million, after which Forbes estimated his net worth to be $55million in 2006.
Muhammad Ali gave me this illness to remind me that I am not number one; Muhammad Ali is.
In 1998, Ali began working with actor Michael J Fox, who has Parkinson's disease, to raise awareness and fund research for a cure.
In 2000, Ali worked with the Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research to raise awareness and encourage donations for research.
On December 20,2014, Muhammad Ali was hospitalized for a mild case of pneumonia.
Muhammad Ali was hospitalized on January 15,2015, for a urinary tract infection after being found unresponsive at a guest house in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Muhammad Ali was hospitalized in Scottsdale, Arizona, on June 2,2016, with a respiratory illness.
Muhammad Ali's funeral had been pre-planned by himself and others for several years prior to his actual death.
Muhammad Ali's memorial was watched by an estimated 1billion viewers worldwide.
Muhammad Ali is the only boxer to be named The Ring magazine Fighter of the Year six times, and was involved in more Ring "Fight of the Year" bouts than any other fighter.
Muhammad Ali was one of only three boxers to be named "Sportsman of the Year" by Sports Illustrated.
Muhammad Ali was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in its first year and held wins over seven other Hall of Fame inductees during an era that has been called the golden age of heavyweight boxing.
Muhammad Ali was named one of the 100 most influential Americans of the 20th century by Life magazine in 1990.
In 1993, the Associated Press reported that Muhammad Ali was tied with Babe Ruth as the most recognized athlete, out of over 800 dead or living athletes, in America.
Muhammad Ali was the recipient of the 1997 Arthur Ashe Courage Award.
Muhammad Ali was crowned Sportsman of the Century by Sports Illustrated.
Muhammad Ali was named BBC Overseas Sports Personality of the Year three times.
Muhammad Ali was named Athlete of the Century by USA Today, and ranked as the third greatest North American athlete of the 20th century by ESPN SportsCentury.
Muhammad Ali was named "Kentucky Athlete of the Century" by the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame in ceremonies at the Galt House East.
On January 8,2001, Muhammad Ali was presented with the Presidential Citizens Medal by President Bill Clinton.
Muhammad Ali Mall, located in Araneta Center, Quezon City, Philippines, is named after him.
The mall opened in 1976 with Muhammad Ali attending its opening.
In May 2016, a bill was introduced to United States Congress by Markwayne Mullin, a politician and former MMA fighter, to extend the Muhammad Ali Act to mixed martial arts.
Muhammad Ali was often dubbed the world's "most famous" person in the media.
Muhammad Ali appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated on 38 different occasions, second only to Michael Jordan's 46.
Muhammad Ali appeared on the cover of Time Magazine 5 times, the most of any athlete.
In 2015, Harris Poll found that Muhammad Ali was one of the three most recognizable athletes in the United States, along with Michael Jordan and Babe Ruth.
Muhammad Ali was the subject of the British television program This Is Your Life in 1978 when he was surprised by Eamonn Andrews.
In 1979, Muhammad Ali guest-starred as himself in an episode of the NBC sitcom Diff'rent Strokes.
Muhammad Ali wrote several bestselling books about his career, including The Greatest: My Own Story and The Soul of a Butterfly.
The 2001 biopic Muhammad Ali garnered a Best Actor Oscar nomination for Will Smith for his portrayal of Muhammad Ali.
In 2002, Muhammad Ali was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his contributions to the entertainment industry.
Muhammad Ali's 1966 fight against George Chuvalo was the subject of Joseph Blasioli's 2003 documentary film The Last Round: Chuvalo vs Ali.
Antoine Fuqua's documentary What's My Name: Muhammad Ali was released in 2019.
Documentary filmmaker Ken Burns created the four-part documentary film Muhammad Ali, spanning over eight hours on Ali's life.