(1942 - 2016)
Born: 17 January 1942
Birthplace: Louisville, Kentucky
Best known as:
Heavyweight boxing champ called "The Greatest"
Name at birth: Cassius Marcellus Clay
Charismatic, outspoken and nicknamed "The Greatest," heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali was the dominant heavyweight fighter of the 1960s and 1970s. A fighter of exceptional speed, cunning and flair, Ali won the world heavyweight title on three separate occasions over a span of 15 years. He was born Cassius Clay, and under that name he won a gold medal at the 1960 Olympics in Rome. After claiming his first title by defeating Sonny Liston in 1964, Clay joined the Nation of Islam and changed his name to Muhammad Ali. Citing his Islamic faith, Ali refused to serve in the U.S. military during the war in Vietnam; his title was revoked and he was sentenced to five years in prison for draft evasion. (The U.S. Supreme Court reversed the conviction in 1971.) He had a long-running rivalry with fellow heavyweight Joe Frazier, whom he fought three times: Ali lost the first match in 1971, but won rematches in 1974 and 1975. Ali also defeated George Foreman in the famous 1974 "Rumble in the Jungle" held in Kinshasa, Zaire. Ali retired from boxing in 1981, but in the decades since has remained one of the world's best-known athletes.
In retirement Ali has suffered from Parkinson's Disease, a motor-skills illness which has slowed his movement and left him mostly unable to speak in public... In 1996 he was selected to light the ceremonial flame at the Summer Olympics in Atlanta, bringing him again into the public eye... Ali was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990... He won his three titles by defeating Sonny Liston (1964), George Foreman (1974) and Leon Spinks (1978)... Ali's managers sometimes refer to him as GOAT -- the Greatest Of All Time... Sprinter Wilma Rudolph won three gold medals at the 1960 Summer Olympics, the same games at which Ali won his boxing gold.
Muhammad Ali Timeline
The ups and downs of the champ's career
- Born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr., on Jan. 17, in Louisville, Ky., to Odessa and Cassius, Sr. (a sign and mural painter).
- After having his bike stolen, a 12-year-old Clay promises to "whup whoever stole it." In an attempt to channel his aggression, the policeman he reported the crime to takes him under his wing and eventually directs him to boxing trainer Fred Stoner. Over the next six years, Clay would win six Kentucky Golden Gloves championships, two national Golden Gloves titles, and two AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) crowns.
- Clay wins the light-heavyweight gold medal at the Summer Olympics in Rome with a 5–0 decision over Poland's Zbigniew Pietrzykowski.
Upon returning to his native Louisville, Clay finds he's not immune to the racism that is so prevalent in the U.S. After being refused service by a waitress at a "whites-only" restaurant, and then fighting with a white gang, a disgusted Clay throws his gold medal into the Ohio River.
He turns professional and wins the first two fights of his career.
- Despite an unblemished 19–0 record, Clay is a heavy underdog in his championship bout with Sonny Liston. But you wouldn't know it by listening to him. He brashly and colorfully predicts victory, and teases the champ by calling him, among other things, an "ugly, old bear."
True to his word, Clay has his way with Liston through six rounds. When Liston refuses to leave his corner for the start of the seventh, the fight ends and Clay becomes heavyweight champion of the world.
After the fight, Clay announces he has become a Black Muslim and has changed his name to Muhammad Ali.
- In April, Ali refuses induction into the U.S. Army due to his religious convictions. He angers many Americans after claiming, "I ain't got no quarrel with those Vietcong." He is subsequently stripped of his WBA title and his license to fight.
In June, a court finds him guilty of draft evasion, fines him $10,000, and sentences him to five years in prison. He remains free, pending numerous appeals, but is still barred from fighting.
- Due to a loophole (there was no state boxing commission in Georgia), Ali returns to the ring in Atlanta and knocks out Jerry Quarry in three rounds.
- In March, he fights heavyweight champ Joe Frazier in Madison Square Garden. A left hook by Frazier knocks Ali down in the 15th round. Frazier wins by unanimous decision.
Three months later, the Supreme Court rules in his favor, reversing the 1967 draft-evasion conviction.
- In January, he gains a measure of revenge from Frazier, besting the former champ in 12 rounds.
Regains the heavyweight title in the "Rumble in the Jungle" on Oct. 30 in Kinshasa, Zaire after knocking out champion George Foreman in the eighth round. He successfully uses his "rope-a-dope" strategy—Ali allowed Foreman to get him against the ropes and swing away until he tired himself out. Then Ali attacked.
- Ali fights Frazier for the third time at the "Thrilla in Manila" in the Philippines. The two heavyweights batter and bloody each other in a ferocious battle, but Ali retains his belt when Frazier can't come out for the 15th round.
- With a career record of 55–2, an overconfident Ali loses his belt to 1976 Olympic champ Leon Spinks in a 15-round split decision. Spinks' reign as champ is brief, however, as Ali wins back the title in a unanimous decision seven months later.
- Announces his retirement on June 27.
- Comes out of retirement to fight new heavyweight champ Larry Holmes. Holmes punishes Ali, landing an estimated 125 punches in the ninth and tenth rounds alone, and then knocks him out in the 11th.
- Loses a unanimous decision to Trevor Berbick, and finally hangs up the gloves for good, retiring with an overall professional record of 56—5.
- Ali is diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, a neurological disorder whose symptoms include muscle tremors and slowness of speech.
- Ali carries the Olympic torch and ignites the cauldron to signal the beginning of the Summer Olympics in Atlanta. He is also given a second gold medal, to replace the one he tossed in the river 36 years earlier.
Read more: Muhammad Ali Timeline http://www.infoplease.com/spot/malitimeline1.html#ixzz2FWguFyCg
Memorable Quotes from Muhammad Ali
From the mouth of the Champ
|"Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth."|
—Time magazine (1978)
"It's just a job. Grass grows, birds fly, waves pound the sand. I beat people up."
—New York Times (1977)
"I'm not the greatest; I'm the double greatest. Not only do I knock 'em out, I pick the round."
—New York Times (1962)
"I know where I'm going and I know the truth and I don't have to be what you want me to be. I'm free to be what I want."
—after announcing he's joined the Nation of Islam (1964)
"I'm the best. I just haven't played yet."
—when asked about his golf game
by Andy Warhol
The Greatest Turns 70
By David E. Phillips
Just one day after we celebrated the birthday of the greatest Civil Rights leader in American history, we have occasion to honor another hero of that movement, Muhammad Ali. Ali turns 70 today, and while his health has diminished, his impact is everlasting. My most recent memory of the great man is from almost two full years ago, when a people from a far off country found themselves visited by terrible tragedy, the horror of the earthquake in Haiti.
There were many moments worth remembering during the multi-network broadcast of the Haiti Earthquake Relief Telethon hastily put together by George Clooney on Friday, January 22nd, 2010. The soul-stirring performances by Mary J. Blige, Coldplay, Bruce Springsteen and many others were very moving, and the stories of the Haitian people’s tragedy, despair, and hope delivered by a bevy of celebrities were even more so. But the moment that affected me most was the sight of Chris Rock and a drawn, disabled man who the comedian spoke for while holding his hand. That man was Muhammad Ali.
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