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Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali mugshot

The arrest of Muhammad Ali :

He claimed he was "The Greatest" and many agreed.

He won 56 of his 61 fights, 37 by a knockout. And that was after he was forced from the ring after his arrest for refusing to join the Army to fight in Viet Nam. He refused to do it on religious grounds and ended up winning that fight too!

He was born Cassius Marcellus Clay in Louisville, Kentucky

His father, whom he was named after, painted signs and billboards. His mother Odessa was a domestic worker.

Muhammad Ali young boxing photo

His ancestors were American slaves, mostly of African American descent with some Irish, English and Italian sprinkled in.

Cassius Clay boxing poster

Young Clay was a great boxer and won six Golden Gloves title before going on to win the Light Heavyweight Gold Medal at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome.

Muhammad Ali, 1960 olympics

He turned pro and beat a number of opponents, including legendary but aging heavyweight Archie Moore. Clay shocked the boxing world with his upset victory for the Heavyweight title against Sonny Liston on February 25, 1964, in which he boasted that he floated like a butterfly and stung like a bee.

Muhammad Ali fighting Sonny Liston

His ascent marked a new era for many Americans, as Clay – like the Beatles – were a breath of fresh air for a country still struggling to get past the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in November 1963.

He turned a lot of heads when he converted to the Nation of Islam and chose Muhammad Ali as his Black Muslim name.

Muhammad Ali after he converted to the nation of islam

Ali also won a controversial rematch against Liston. But after a successful title defense against Zora Foley in 1967, Ali was stripped of his title and his boxing license was suspended by New York State, after he refused to be drafted into the Army.

Muhammad Ali after he refused to go into the army

His famous quote: "No Vietcong ever called me nigger!"

He was convicted on June 20 of draft evasion and sentenced to five years in prison and fined $10,000.

newspaper clipping after Muhammad Ali was convicted of draft evasion

While some fans turned against Ali, public opinion also turned against the war. And although Ali could not box from March 1967 to October 1970 – prime years for a prize fighter, ages 25 to 29 – his case worked its way through appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously overturned his conviction

Ali returned to the fight game and had some legendary clashes with Joe Frazier, like the March 8, 1971 "Fight of the Century" at New York's Madison Square Garden.

Ali suffered his first professional defeat in a unanimous decision. But he beat Frazier, who'd lost his heavyweight title to George Foreman in an Ali-Frazier rematch, setting the stage for a title bout with Foreman.

The October 30, 1974 "Rumble in the Jungle" garnered a global audience and few gave Ali a chance to win. But he did win – by a knockout.

Muhammad Ali fighting George Foreman

Foreman later said Ali outfought and outhit him.

A third match with Frazier followed, the "Thrilla in Manila ", and Ali won a technical knockout, keeping his crown.

But Ali began to slow and lost his title to Leon Spinks in Las Vegas in February, 1978 and then won a rematch making him the first heavyweight to claim the title three different times.

In later years, Ali suffered from trembling hands and vocal stutters and was diagnosed with Parkinson's syndrome in 1984, common among boxers because of blows to the head

Married four times,

Muhammad Ali and his 4 different wives

Ali has seven daughters and two sons, some pictured here.

Muhammad Ali's children
Famous Arrests