Muhammad Ali: The legacy & Life of Legendary Boxer

History / Feb 15,2021

Muhammad Ali was born on January 17, 1942, as Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr. He was an Olympic and World heavyweight champion boxer. Besides boxing, Muhammad Ali is also known for his audacious stance on the Vietnam wars and for his strong political & religious views. The American former heavyweight champion boxer is considered as one of the greatest sportsmen of the 20th century. Muhammad Ali (1942-2016) was the first boxer to be on the winning end 56 times spanning his 21 years long boxing career. Ali was the first fighter in the ring to have clinched the heavyweight title three times and he was also an Olympic gold medalist. 

Ali became a controversial figure for his candid racial, political & religious opinions. The world-class boxing champion changed his name from Cassius Clay Jr. to Ali in 1964 when he joined the Nation of Islam. Ali was banned for a period of three years from boxing when he was at the peak of his career & was stripped of his heavyweight championship when he refused to join the military, citing his religious beliefs as the reason. Through the later years of his life, Muhammad Ali suffered Parkinson’s syndrome, however, he kept himself involved in several philanthropic activities as long as he lived.  

Muhammad Ali: A Timeline of his life & Career


January 17, 1942: Cassius Clay aka Muhammad Ali was born.

September 5, 1960: At 18, Ali wins a gold medal at the Rome 1960 Olympic Games.

February 25, 1964: At 22, he wins the world heavyweight boxing crown in Miami.

March 6, 1964: Cassius Clay officially adopts the name, Muhammad Ali. 

August 14, 1964: Ali gets married to Sonji Roi.

April 1967: Ali refuses to join the U.S. Army and gets barred from the sports. 

August 17, 1967: Ali marries Belinda Boyd after divorcing Sonji Roi.

October 26, 1970: Ali returns to boxing.

January 28, 1974: Ali wins 12 rounds at the Madison Square Garden defeating Frazier.

October 1, 1975: “The Thrilla in Manila” takes place. Ali defeats Frazier in a TKO.

October 1, 1975: Ali’s biography by Richard Durham gets published.

February 15, 1978: Ali gets defeated by Leon Spinks in 15 rounds. 

September 15, 1978: Ali becomes the first three-time world heavyweight champion.

June 27, 1979: Ali retires from boxing.

1984: Ali gets diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, which is a degenerative disease of the brain.

November 19, 1986: Ali marries for the fourth time Yolanda “Lonnie” Williams. 

July 19, 1996: Ali receives a replacement gold medal for his 1960 win. 

June 3, 2016: Ali succumbs to death due to some respiratory issues. 


Who Was Muhammad Ali aka Cassius Clay?


Muhammad Ali was a boxer, a social activist & a philanthropist. Ali is popularly known for his boxing games and is regarded as one of the greatest athletes of the 20th century. In 1960, Ali registered an Olympic gold medal to his name and in 1964 he also became a world heavyweight boxing champion. Upon getting diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 1984, Ali got himself involved in various forms of philanthropic activities, which also won him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005.

Muhammad Ali: A Record of his Early Life & Career


Born to Cassius Marcellus Clay Sr. in Louisville, Kentucky as Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. on January 17, 1942, the man has been often called the best athletes of his era. For Clay, at the age of 12, the inspiration came from a deep desire to pummel the culprit who stole his favorite bicycle. Joe Martin, a Louisville police officer to whom Clay reported the theft, inspired him to learn to fight. Martin was also a boxing trainer— he took the little one under his wings and that is how it started. And, two weeks from here, Clay won his first match in a split decision. 

Martin started to train Clay — how to spar. Soon after Clay ventured on to his boxing career. His first amateur bout happened in 1954, which he won by split decision. Thereafter, in 1956 Clay was a winner in the light heavyweight class. at the Golden Gloves tournament for novices.  By the age of 18, Clay had registered two 100 victories, two Amateur Athletic Union national titles, and two national Golden Gloves titles. Later on, in 1960, Ali became an Olympic gold medalist playing in Rome at the 1960 Summer Olympics.

Personal Life: Spouse and Children


Ali had four marriages and had nine children, which also included two children whom he fathered outside of his marriage. His first marriage happened with Sonji Roi, in 1964. The marriage lasted just for a year and the two got divorced when Sonji Roi refused to adopt the Nation of Islam customs and wear the dress. 

Olympic Gold


Muhammad Ali came into the limelight in 1960  when he won the light heavyweight Olympic gold medal in Rome by defeating Zbigniew Pietrzkowski of Poland. Soon after Ali won the gold medal, he became the “American Hero”. The six feet, three inches tall Ali with his imposing figure was soon looked at by the competitors for his fancy footwork & lightning speed. And, that’s where the champion’s journey started when the Louisville Sponsoring Group started backing him up. 

Conversion to Islam


In 1964, Muhammad Ali became a part of the Black Muslim group Nation of Islam. In the beginning, he called himself Cassius X, which later was changed to Muhammad Ali. And, during the 1970s, the champion boxer got converted to orthodox Islam. 

Vietnam War and Supreme Court Case


This was the time when Ali began to talk against the Vietnam war in a pretty vocal way. Ali refused to serve on the grounds after he was inducted into the military in April 1967. He cited his religious beliefs as the reason for not agreeing to fight. Ali got his world title and boxing license canceled after he was found to create a felony. He was arrested and a case was registered against him by the U.S. Department of Justice and was sentenced to five years in prison in June 1967. However, he remained free while he was fighting his conviction but it led him to miss three prime years of his career. It was only in 1970 that Ali came back to the rings when he fought against Jerry Quarry. And finally, in 1971, the conviction was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. Ali returned to the rings on October 26, 1970, after living in exile for a period of 43 months. He gave it a great start by knocking Jerry Quarry in the third round. 

Ali’s Retirement


Ali announced his retirement in 1979. He retired with a career record of 56 wins, five losses, and 37 knockouts. After retirement, he made a brief but unsuccessful comeback in 1980 when he lost to Larry Holmes.

Some Frequently Asked Questions about Muhammad Ali:


What Muhammad Ali is popular for?


Muhammad Ali is most popularly known for being the greatest athletes of the 20th century. He was the first fighter to have won the heavyweight championship on three separate occasions. Besides, he is also known for vocally speaking against the Vietnam war and for the social message he gave in the context of black pride by refusing to serve on grounds during the war. 

What records and awards Muhammad Ali received?


Ali made a career record of 56 wins, 37 knockouts, and five losses before he retired from his boxing career at the age of 39 in 1981. In 1990 Ali became a member of the inaugural class of the International Boxing Hall of Fame. In 2005, about 10-years before he died, Ali received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

What differentiated Muhammad Ali from other star players?


Ali was the kind of boxer who was known for his ability to take a punch, for his tremendous speed, the perfect footwork, and most importantly his tremendous courage. There have been players who have matched Ali’s final record of 37 knockouts, 56 wins, and 5 losses— but the kind of his unique boxing skills during his prime years have placed him among the immortal athletes.