Muhammad Ali Profile

Born Jan 17, 1942
Died Jun 03, 2016
Age 79 years
Birthplace Louisville, Kentucky, USA
Nickname "The Greatest"
Height 6ft 3ins
Reach 78 ins
Stance Orthodox
Division Heavyweight
Professional Record 65-5 (37)
Amateur Records 99-8

Boxer, entertainer, activist and philanthropist - Ali is crowned as "The Greatest" to have laced a pair of gloves but his work outside the ring was just as incredible as his achievements in the ring.

Muhammad Ali was an American boxer and a social activist who is widely regarded as one of the most important figures of the 20th Century.

In a glittering boxing career, which included famous rivalries with Joe Frazier, Sonny Liston, George Foreman and Ken Norton, "The Greatest" became the first three-time heavyweight world champion and is seen as the greatest heavyweight of all time.

Ali has received some of sport's greatest accolades as a result of his incredible achievements inside and outside the ring. Ali is the only fighter to be named Ring Magazine Fighter of the Year on six occasions. He was also awarded Sports Personality of the Century by the BBC and was ranked as the greatest athlete of the 20th Century by Sports Illustrated.

Cassius Clay was born in 1942 and was raised in Louisville, Kentucky. After winning gold at the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome, Clay converted to Islam one year later and changed his name to Muhammad Ali.

In 1964, he won his first professional world title after delivering a huge upset in beating the legendary Sonny Liston at the age of 22. 

Vietnam War and refusal to serve country

In 1966, Ali refused to be drafted into the US army for the Vietnam War, citing his religious beliefs and opposition to the conflict as reasons.

He was subsequently found guilty of draft evasion and got stripped of his heavyweight champion status, although the verdict was eventually overturned by the Supreme Court having gained recognition for his criticism of Vietnam and fight for racial injustice.

Foreman Ali

Speaking about his refusal to service his country in the Vietnam war, Ali said: "Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go 10,000 miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on Brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights?

"No, I'm not going 10,000 miles from home to help murder and burn another poor nation simply to continue the domination of white slave masters of the darker people the world over. This is the day when such evils must come to an end. I have been warned that to take such a stand would cost me millions of dollars.

"But I have said it once and I will say it again. The real enemy of my people is here. I will not disgrace my religion, my people or myself by becoming a tool to enslave those who are fighting for their own justice, freedom and equality.

"If I thought the war was going to bring freedom and equality to 22 million of my people, they wouldn't have to draft me, I'd join tomorrow. I have nothing to lose by standing up for my beliefs. So, I'll go to jail, so what? We've been in jail for 400 years."

Angelo Dundee stated how Ali was robbed from his best years due to the ban after not fighting from 25 until nearly 29.

The 'GOAT' made an impressive comeback following his years on the sidelines, however, and won his second world title in 1974 by knocking out heavy-handed George Foreman before enjoying another reign as world champion.

The greatest hits: Frazier, Foreman and Norton

Ali fought in many illustrious bouts during his 21-year professional career. His first significant victory was against Liston in 1964 as an underdog to capture the WBA and WBC titles before successfully defending those belts in a 1965 rematch.

Ali's trilogy of fights against Frazier were some of the most defining bouts of his career. They first fought in 1971, billed as 'The Fight of the Century'. Smokin' Joe inflicted the first defeat of Ali's career at Madison Square Garden to take the world titles back to South Carolina.

The fighters crossed paths once again three years later, where they fought in what was dubbed 'Super Fight 2'.

Ali Frazier

The rematch was a non-title fight as Frazier had relinquished his world titles to Foreman in 1973. The rivalry was more intense with the pair involved in a breakout brawl at a pre-fight media event. Ali would avenge his first loss by beating Frazier on points after fighting in an aggressive manner from start to finish.

Ali and Frazier fought for the third and final time in 1975 in the 'Thrilla in Manila'. The fight is widely regarded as one of the best and most brutal bouts in boxing history. It was a huge global event which attracted an audience of over one billion worldwide. Ali continued his trash-talking tactics by calling Frazier 'The Gorilla'.

Ali adopted a rope-a-dope tactic as he stayed on the ropes and took punishment before taking advantage of a tired Frazier in the later rounds. Ali's risk paid off with him getting his hand raised in the 14th round.

Another trilogy series involved Ken Norton - Ali fought his fellow native between 1973-76, coming out on top in the second and third instalments - the trilogy fight was a highly disputed victory for Ali.

According to CompuBox stats, Ali landed 199 of 709 punches while Norton landed 286 of his 635 shots thrown. Ali also faced Foreman, the defending heavyweight world champion, in 1974, otherwise known as 'The Rumble in the Jungle'.


Foreman had won his world titles by beating Frazier the previous year. The fight, alongside 'Thrilla in Manila' is one of the biggest sporting events of the 20th Century having been watched by a reported one billion people around the world.

Ali was the outsider going into the fight, but he managed to knock Foreman off his stool with an eighth-round stoppage to become undisputed champion. Ali's penultimate bout saw him face former sparring partner Larry Holmes in October 1980, in what was called 'The Last Hurrah'.

The former world champion was defeated in his final big fight, with Holmes dominating the fight from the start. An idol of his - Mike Tyson - defeated Holmes years later and dedicated his win as revenge for Ali.

Foreman vs Ali: Rumble in the Jungle

Ali faced Foreman - the WBA and WBC champion - in October 1974. The fight was dubbed 'The Rumble in the Jungle' with the Democratic Republic of Congo hosting the mega-event.

It pitted the undefeated Foreman against 4-1 underdog Ali, who many doubted would be able to deal with Foreman's punching prowess. The fight was one of contrasting styles with Ali having the speed and technical ability while Foreman was known as a knockout artist.

The fight was a colossal event for Africa which brought a three-night music festival with it to promote the significance of the fight. Ali stunned his opponent with a brilliant eighth-round knockout to stun the world.

Many had bet against 'The Greatest' - questioning how much he had left in the tank - at the age of 32. In 1996, director Leon Gast released the documentary film 'When We Were Kings' which received critical acclaim.

It focused on the build-up to the fight and featured popular musicians such as James Brown and B.B. King at the fight's accompanying music festival.

Muhammad Ali Quotes

Muhammad Ali was famous for his trash-talking, witty one-liners and inspiration quotes. He used his intelligent remarks to build anticipation for his fights, improve his worldwide recognition and intimidate opponents.

Ali is usually credited with being the founder of trash-talk in boxing. He used it cleverly to give himself an edge over his opponents. He was so good he would often do it all in a poetic form. One of his most famous lines came prior to his showdown with Foreman.

Ali and Cooper

Ali was also an inspirational figure through his motivational speeches as he fought for equality and world peace, including his fight for African Americans and campaign for the rights of black people. 

"Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. George can't hit what his eyes can't see."

"The man who views the world at 50 the same as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life."

"Only last week, I murdered a rock, injured a stone, hospitalised a brick. I'm so bad, I make medicine sick."

"If you like to lose your money, then be a fool and bet on Sonny, but if you wanna have a good day, then put it on Clay."

The world mourns Ali's passing

Ali passed away aged 74 at a hospital in Arizona on June 3, 2016. He had been suffering from a respiratory illness which was made worse by his existing Parkinson's condition - an illness he had suffered with since 1984, three years after retiring from boxing.

It is believed that the two final fights in his career, heavy losses against Larry Holmes and Trevor Berbick may have had a big contribution in triggering the illness.

Ali reportedly showed pre-diagnosis signs of the condition in the waning years of his career. Battling the disease like the champion he was, Ali continued to make public appearances in retirement despite a slurring speech and stiffening movement because of his worsening condition.

Ali left an unforgettable legacy after passing away in 2016. Former US President Barack Obama, boxing legend Floyd Mayweather and actor Michael J Fox led millions in sending tributes to Ali. He was buried in a ceremony in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky.

Muhammad Ali's net worth

Ali earned an estimated $60 million from fight purses during his career, according to Forbes. His net worth reached $80million between retirement and his death. His highest fight purse was $8million against Holmes in October 1980.

Other purses include an estimated $6 million for the 'Thrilla in Manila' battle against Frazier in 1975 and $5.45million for his victory over Foreman in 1974. In 2006, Ali sold 80% of his likeness to CKX Inc - an entertainment content and property rights which also owns the Elvis Presley brand for $50million - which put him at 13th on Forbes' Top 100 Celebrity Rich List in 2006.

In his peak, Ali was also generating a reported $7million per year through sponsorship deals with the likes of Adidas. In 2004, Ali and his daughter Laila were part of Adidas' global brand campaign 'Impossible is Nothing'.

Personal life

Ali was married four times during his life. From his marriages and other relationships, he has seven daughters and two sons. Ali's first wife was Sonji Roi, whom he married in August 1964.

The marriage was childless and brief, however, as the pair were divorced by January 1966. The following year, the fighter married his second spouse Belinda Boyd. Like Ali, Boyd changed her name to Khalilah Ali after converting to Islam. The couple had four children: Maryum; Jamilah; Rasheda and Muhammad Jr.


Whilst still married to Khalilah, Ali had another two daughters from extra-marital relationships. They are called Khaliah and Miya. These relationships were significant in causing the breakdown of his marriage with Khalilah, which led to a divorce before marrying Veronica Porsche in the summer of 1977.

His third marriage saw the birth of two more daughters, called Hana and Laila - the latter following into the footsteps of her father by becoming a world champion in female boxing. Laila held multiple world titles at super middleweight and retired with an unblemished 24-0 record.

Ali and Porsche divorced in 1986 and he went on to marry childhood friend Yolanda Williams. With his new spouse, Ali adopted Asaad Amin when he was five months old and remained married to Williams until his death in 2016.

Amateur career: Rome 1960

Ali - known as Clay at the time - began boxing at the age of 12, after being convinced to do so by local police officer and boxing coach Joe E. Martin. He made his amateur boxing debut in 1954, beating Ronnie O'Keefe via split-decision.

Following this win, he won the Kentucky Golden Gloves title and two national Golden Gloves titles. These victories put him in contention for success at the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome. Ali would become Olympic champion in Rome, which helped to build his profile and set up his next chapter in the professional ranks.

During his amateur days, Ali met Dundee - who also worked with Sugar Ray Leonard - and would go on to appoint him as his manager and trainer after his idol Sugar Ray Robinson declined Ali's offer for the roles.

In his 1976 autobiography titled 'The Greatest: My Own Story', Ali gave an allegorical story of how he threw his Olympic gold medal into the Ohio River after him and his friend got refused entry to a restaurant because of his skin colour. There have been various records but according to Boxrec, the most accurate record is said to be 99-8.

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