Muhammad Ali is regarded as the greatest heavyweight boxing champion of all time. He is also considered one of the greatest athletes and sportsmen of the 20th century.
Ali shot to fame at an early age. He later championed the rights of the African Americans, converted to Islam and refused to enter draft for the Vietnam War.
His views and stances struck a note with a wide portion of the American society, turning him from a sports icon into a real legend.
Muhammad Ali’s original name, given to him at the time of his birth, was Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. He was born in Kentucky in 1942. At an early age, Ali witnessed the discrimination against African Americans. He later decided to channel his anger and frustration over this into boxing.
He began as an amateur boxer in 1954 and went on to score many important victories. By 1960, he had won nearly 100 matches while losing only 5. His most notable victory was at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome where he won the gold medal in Light Heavyweight Boxing. In 1960, he began his career as a professional boxer.
Right from the start of his professional career, Muhammad Ali scored an overwhelming number of victories against his opponents. His breakthrough came in 1963 when he won the world heavyweight champion by defeating Sonny Liston. During the subsequent years, he successfully defended his heavyweight title.
In 1966, Muhammad Ali refused to be drafted for the Vietnam War. He also publicly spoke out against the war. This led nearly all the states to systematically strip him of his boxing license and titles. From 1966 to 1969, he was forced out of the boxing profession at the peak of his career.
As opposition to the Vietnam War grew at home, he was eventually restored in 1970. He returned to the ring with zing and defeated several heavyweight champions over the next years, becoming the most acclaimed boxer of the period. Famous boxers he defeated include Joe Frazier, Floyd Patterson, George Foreman and Sonny Liston.
Muhammad Ali gained the heavyweight championship title for a record three times, which was unprecedented at the time. He beat a total of 21 heavyweight title boxers. One of his most famous boxing matches, known as The Rumble in the Jungle, was viewed by a record 1 billion people worldwide. He was also chosen as the greatest athlete of the 20th century by several leading sports publications.
Ali pursued an acting career alongside his boxing career. He starred in a number of movies, including ‘The Greatest’ in which he plays his own character. He also notably played the role of a former slave in the movie ‘Freedom Road’. In addition to acting, Muhammad Ali also played music.
He was nominated for the Grammy award twice for his musical achievements. His rhyming trash-talk during matches and interviews is often seen as the precursor to the rap and hip hop music genres.