Hall of Fame Professional Boxer, Olympic Games Gold Medalist Athlete, Civil Rights Activist. He is generally considered to be the greatest heavyweight boxer in the history of the sport. Raised in Louisville, Kentucky, his birth name was Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. He was introduced to boxing by a police officer. Since early in his boxing career, he is credited for his remarkable skill, accuracy, smoothness, and precision, which he brought to the ring, as well the values he exemplified and spoke to in a time when few did. He was a member of the United States Olympic Boxing Team that competed in the 1960 Summer Olympic Games in Rome Italy, where he won the Gold Medal in the Men's Light Heavyweight event, defeating European boxing champion Zbigniew Pietrzykowski of Poland. Always a controversial figure, he spoke openly about religious freedom, racial injustice and in sticking to one's principles. He was among the first to bring these ideals to the mainstream media. At the pinnacle of his career, he is thought to be the most famous man in the world and certainly among the most recognized sports figures of his time. He was named "Sportsman of the Century" by Sports Illustrated magazine and "Sports Personality of the Century" by the BBC in England. He wrote several best-selling biographies about his life in boxing, including "The Greatest", "My Own Story", and "The Soul of a Butterfly." In the beginning, he fought under his birth name as "Cassius Clay." From the age of 12 to the age of 22 (1964), he won the world heavyweight championship from Sonny Liston, three years later, won the heavyweight title (1967), he then refused to be drafted into the U.S. Army, citing his religious objections and opposition to America's involvement in the Vietnam conflict. He had joined the "Nation of Islam" and changed his name to Mohammed Ali. He was arrested and judged guilty of draft evasion and was stripped of his boxing title because of it. He did not fight again for nearly four years during a time when he was at the peak of his fighting condition. He appealed the conviction, which worked its way to the U.S. Supreme Court. His conviction was overturned in 1971. As a conscientious objector, he became an icon for the growing counter-culture against the war. He was the only three-time lineal world heavyweight champion... in 1964, 1974, and 1978. For 7 months in 1964, he was the undisputed heavyweight boxing champion of the world. He assumed the title of "The Greatest" and fought in several more historic matches. Among them was the first Liston fight, three with "Mighty" Joe Frazier, and one with legendary boxer George Foreman. He was to regain the boxing titles that had been stripped from him seven years earlier. He took command of most of his press conferences and spoke freely about issues not related to boxing which facilitated other African-American athletes in America to speak out with greater confidence. He spoke of racial pride and felt unintimidated by the "white establishment," prevalent at the time. He often spontaneously spoke with poetic words and prose during his news conferences and interviews, which is said to have been an early inspiration for the rap and hip-hop musical movement decades later. Sadly, in 1984, he was diagnosed with Parkinson's syndrome, a disease that commonly results from head trauma from participation in contact sports such as boxing and football. He remained active during his final years, however, and even lit the Olympic torch at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. In 2005, President Bush presented him with Presidential Medal of Freedom at the White House. A 2001 motion picture, starring Will Smith earned an Oscar nomination for Smith's portrayal of Ali in the leading role.
Bio by: Christian
Sonji Roi Glover
1945–2005 (m. 1964)
"Service to others is the rent you pay for your room in heaven"