Muhammad Ali (1942) was born as Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr. in
Ali used Stoner's help to become a star boxer in his
high school days, where he won 6
long after his championship, Ali began to make a difference on both political
and racial fronts. He became openly disgusted with the racism towards African
Americans in his own country, and displayed this anger by throwing his Olympic
gold medal into a river in protest of the racism in
"The Beloved of Allah" became a controversial
figure outside of the ring not only because he converted to Islam, but also
because he refused to be drafted, in protest to
In May 1967, the World Boxing Association took away his boxing license and his title, and he was sentenced to 5 years in prison for violating the Selective Service Act. Finally released from prison on appeal, Ali returned to where he belonged: the boxing ring. There, he fought and defeated Jerry Quarry in 1970, but lost to Joe Frazier (the champion at the time) in 1971, after getting back his license. This would mark Ali's first defeat as a professional boxer.
But with defeat comes victory, and Ali used his smarts to outwit and ultimately "outplay" the younger and stronger George Foreman (who had earned the heavyweight champion title from Frazier). The "Rumble in the Jungle" was held in Kinshasa, Zaire, where Ali used the "rope-a-dope" method, consisting of him saving his energy and taking punches until the 8th round, where Ali retaliated with all his pent up energy to regain the title.
Then in 1975, Ali fought Joe Frazier in the
But after his retirement, the 38-year old returned to the ring to earn some more money. He fought and lost to Larry Holmes for the World Boxing Council title, and was defeated by Trevor Berbick. Now he was finally retired, with 59 victories and an astonishing total of 5 defeats.
Now the real fight was heading his way, as Ali was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 1982, which became visible in his sluggish appearance, and especially when he was honoured by lighting the Olympic torch at the 1996 Olympic games in Atlanta.(See picture above)
After his professional career as a boxer, Ali became
politically active, with his involvement in Jimmy Carter's campaign in 1980, as
well as his work as a diplomat working on the release of four Americans who
were kidnapped in
Daring to go against political policy to help people in need, Muhammad has made goodwill missions to Afghanistan and North Korea; delivered sorely-needed medical supplies to an embargoed Cuba; travelled to Iraq and secured the release of 15 United States hostages during the first Gulf War; and journeyed to South Africa to meet Nelson Mandela upon his release from prison.
He has been instrumental in providing over 232 million
meals to the world's hungry. Travelling across continents, he has
hand-delivered food and medical supplies to children in
In addition to his international efforts, Muhammad is
equally devoted to helping charities at home. He has visited countless numbers
of soup kitchens and hospitals, and helped such organizations as the
Make-A-Wish-Foundation and the Special Olympics. He annually participates in
"Fight Night," which generates funds for the
For his humanitarian efforts, Muhammad has been the recipient of
countless awards. In addition to being honoured by Amnesty International with
their Lifetime Achievement Award, the Secretary-General of the United Nations
bestowed upon him the citation of United Nations Messenger of Peace. In
In addition to his professional and social achievements, Ali starred as himself in the biography of his life, 1977's The Greatest (not to mention several other films), and has been the subject of several documentaries, most notably the Oscar-winning, When We Were Kings, in 1996.