Muhammad Ali was a boxing champion in the heavyweight category with a record of 56 wins. He is considered by many all over the world as one of the greatest boxers of all time.
Ali died in 2016 after a battle with Parkinson’s disease. One of his mottos was “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. The hands can’t hit what the eyes can’t see”.
Keep reading to know more about 13 interesting facts about Muhammad Ali.
Muhammad Ali Facts
1. Before becoming Muhammad Ali, he was Cassius Clay Jr.
Muhammad Ali was born on January 17, 1942, in Louisville, Kentucky and his name was Cassius Clay Jr. In 1964, he decided to convert to the religion of Islam. As part of his conversion, he changed his name to Cassius X and then to Muhammad Ali.
2. Ali discovered his talent as a boxer after his bike was stolen
When Muhammad Ali was 12 years old, his bike was stolen. He told a police officer, who also trained young boxers at a gym nearby, that he wanted to beat up the thief. The officer invited Ali to train and it was then when he discovered his talent for fighting, an interesting fact about Muhammad Ali.
3. He was an Olympic gold medalist
At the age of 18, Muhammad Ali participated in the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome, Italy. He was selected to be part of the US Olympic boxing team. Despite being very tall, he was also very fast. After defeating Zbigniew Pietrzkowski of Poland, he became the gold medalist for the light heavyweight category.
This medal not only allowed him to be considered as an American hero but also to turn professional in boxing. Louisville Sponsoring Group started to represent the new boxing champion in this new stage in his life.
4. The champion boxer was stripped of his titles at one point
During the 60s, the Vietnam War was taking place and Muhammad Ali was very public about his opinion against it. In 1967, he was drafted into the military, but he refused to serve. His reasons had to do with his conversion to Islam, which impeded him to participate in the war.
However, this caused him to be arrested and immediately stripped of his boxing titles. Not only that, but the Department of Justice in the United States opened a legal case against him. There, he was found guilty of violating a law related to Selective Service and was sent to prison for five years. Nonetheless, he appealed his conviction in liberty.
It was not until three years later that the Supreme Court overturned his conviction and he was able to box again professionally.
5. He was nicknamed “The Greatest”
An interesting fact about Muhammad Ali is that he gave himself the title of “The Greatest”, which remained his nickname all throughout his life. However, when he was still Cassius Clay, he was known as “The Louisville Lip”, since he was from Louisville, Kentucky.
6. Ali married four times and had nine children
The Greatest got married for the first time in 1964 to Sonji Roi. However, their marriage lasted only one year since she did not want to convert to Islam. His second wife was Belinda Boyd and they married in 1967. Together, they had four children. They finally divorced in 1976.
While being married to Boyd, he had a relationship with Veronica Porche. She eventually became his third wife in the year of 1977. They had two children, one of them, Laila Ali, also became a professional boxer. The couple divorced in 1986.
His fourth and last wife was Yolanda and they remained together until Ali’s death. They had one child together. Muhammad also had two children fathered outside of marriage.
7. His most famous fights took place after his three-year suspension
It was not until he had his comeback after being suspended for a conviction on draft evasion, that he won his most famous fights. Some of them were: “The Fight of the Century” against Joe Frazier. It took place on March 8, 1971, in New York City. After 15 rounds, Ali lost as a professional for the first time; “Rumble in the Jungle” which occurred on October 30, 1974, in the city of Kinshasa, Zaire. This fight was against George Foreman, who Ali knocked out in the eighth round. This fight earned him the title of Undisputed Heavyweight Champion of the World; “Thrilla in Manila” was a fight that took place in Quezon City, Philippines on October 1, 1975, against Joe Frazier again. This time, Ali won by technical knockout after 14 rounds.
8. Muhammad’s daughter, Laila Ali, was an undefeated professional boxer
His youngest daughter, Laila Ali, conceived with his third wife, Veronica, followed Ali’s footsteps and became a professional boxer. At first, she trained in secret because her father did not approve of women boxing. But then, he supported her and went to as many of her fights as possible, an interesting Muhammad Ali fact. She never lost a match.
9. Ali was named in honor of a white abolitionist
Cassius Marcellus Clay was a farmer and white abolitionist. He emancipated the slaves he inherited from his father and also edited an anti-slavery newspaper. Muhammad Ali’s father was named after this man, and so was he.
10. Muhammad Ali starred in Broadway
While Muhammad Ali was banned from fighting professionally, he took the Broadway stage. There, he interpreted a militant black lecturer in the musical “Buck White”. The musical only lasted seven performances but received good reviews from the critics.
11. The boxer also recorded an album
In an album released by Columbia Records in 1963, Muhammad recorded several verses. The album was called “I am the Greatest” where the boxer sings and reads his poetry.
12. His Olympic gold medal is lost
Ali said he threw away his Olympic gold medal into the Ohio River as a sign of protest against racism, an interesting fact about Muhammad Ali. However, many believe that he simply lost it. The Olympic Committee decided to replace his medal during the 1996 Summer Olympics.
13. A pair of Ali’s gloves were auctioned for almost $900,000
On February 25, 1964, Ali fought and defeated Sonny Liston. The fight earned Muhammad $630,000 for the victory. However, the gloves he used were auctioned in 2014 for $836,000! They are now owned by an anonymous collector.
Muhammad Ali was a great boxer, even considered today as the greatest in history. His speed and technique allowed him to defeat many opponents, and also earn him an Olympic medal. His legacy still lives on.
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