Muhammad Ali was a professional boxer, philanthropist, actor, and entertainer. Initially born as Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr., he was nicknamed “The Greatest.”
He definitely was the greatest boxer globally, with 56 wins out of 61 games in his professional career.
During the height of his career, Muhammad refused to be drafted to the Vietnam War. Consequently, he was found guilty of draft evasion.
Moreover, after he was stripped of his boxing license, he did not box for 4 years until appealing to the Supreme Court.
Later, Ali not only came back strong but also advocated for human rights.
As an entertainer, he received awards for the spoken word and acted in various silver screen movies.
Muhammad Ali has been ranked the greatest heavyweight boxer of all time. Before diving into his details, let’s take a quick look at his bio:
|Full name||Muhammad Ali|
|Birth name||Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr|
|Date of birth||January 17, 1942|
|Age||Died at 74 years old (2016)|
|Birthplace||Louisville, Kentucky, U.S. A|
|Education||Central High School|
|Father’s name||Cassius Marcellus Clay Sr.|
|Mother’s name||Odessa Grady Clay|
|Height||6 feet and 3 inches|
|Eye color||Dark Brown|
|Net Worth||$50 million -$80 million|
|Nickname||The Greatest, The People’s Champion, The Louisville Lip|
|Social Media||Twitter, Facebook, Instagram|
|Debut year||1954 (Local amateur)|
Muhammad Ali: Family, Early Life, and Education
Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. also known as Clay was born on January 17, 1942, in Kentucky of Louisville.
His father was a billboard painter, while his mother worked as a housemaid. Additionally, he had one brother named Rudolf Clay.
Initially, the two brothers were raised in a Christian household. Furthermore, they were given Baptist teachings.
In the beginning, Clay’s ancestry was also traced back to the famous abolitionist Archer Alexander.
Like Alexander, Clay often advocated for human and civil rights.
Due to dyslexia, the legend could not fare well in school.
During his childhood, his bike was stolen. Then, he reported the incident to the Louisville police officer Joe E. Martin.
Famously, he told the officer he wanted to “whup” the thief. However, Joe, who was also a part-time boxing trainer, said he needed training.
Formerly, young Clay did not agree. Later, he started watching boxers in the show Tomorrow’s Champion.
Consequently, he was influenced by them to start his own boxing practice.
Firstly, he started working with Fred Stoner. The coach gave him the foundation of style and stamina.
Similarly, he worked with Chuck Bodak for the last four years of his amateur career.
Muhammad Ali: Body Measurements
Moreover, the world-class champion has an equally amazing body measurement.
He stood around 6 feet and 3 inches, reaching up to 191 cm in height.
Likewise, he weighed heavily, around 198 lbs, during his career.
He definitely had an astounding reach of 78 inches.
With such a body, Ali’s constant training kept him alive as a fish. However, despite his efforts, he died of a health problem in his final year.
Muhammad Ali: Personal Life
Ali grew up in a separatist situation where even though he won the Olympics, he was still not served at a restaurant.
Likewise, he was extremely vocal in his hate against white supremacists and racists.
Hence, Clay Jr. became more and more strayed from Christianity. Despite his beliefs, he was tolerant of any religion.
Furthermore, at the time, Clay hid his involvement with the Nation of Islam for a long time. Yet, he met his former mentor Malcolm X there.
Initially, he was denied membership due to his boxing career. Later, he was accepted after the Liston fight.
Only a few journalists accepted his new name, like Howard Cosell.
During that time, he teamed with Malcolm X to vocalize his hatred towards the white establishment.
When Malcolm X parted from the Nation of Islam, Ali said he regretted making him his mentor.
Although his fight was against white supremacy, he was often labeled as a black separatist.
However, he was seen at the forefront of the civil rights movement.
In 2004, Ali announced he converted to mainstream Sunni Islam. Even after retiring, he remained a devout follower of the Quran and Islam.
After advocating against the draft for Vietnam War, Ali became a young sensation.
Despite his status, he was always kind to the poor and marginalized.
His daughter explained, “His love for people was extraordinary.”
He would often bring homeless families into hotels. Similarly, he tried to help them by paying month’s bills of those hotels.
Furthermore, he gave them new clothes and food.
Muhammad Ali: Wife
Ali was not only famous for boxing. He was famous for infidelity.
He married four wives and had seven daughters and two sons.
First of all, he married Sonji Roi in 1964. Roi was a cocktail waitress. However, Ali was against her way of living.
Thus, the childless couple parted ways in 1966.
Next, a year later, Muhammad married Belinda Boyd. Moreover, she changed her religion too and became Khalilah Ali.
Further, the couple had four children: Maryum, May May, Jamillah, and Rasheda.
Despite their marriage, Ali had an extramarital affair with Wanda Bolton. She even converted to Aaisha Ali and bore Khaliah Ali.
The boxer married Aaisha in an Islamic ceremony. Furthermore, the mother and daughter then lived alongside Khalilah and her children.
When Aaisha sued Ali for unpaid alimony, he set up a $200,000 trust fund for Khaliah.
After that, he had another daughter Miya from another affair with Patricia Harvell.
In 1977, Ali’s second marriage ended due to his infidelity. So, he married Veronica Porche in the same year.
Similarly, he had two daughters Hana and Laila, from Veronica. Unfortunately, the couple divorced in 1986.
The reason remained Ali’s repeated infidelity. Veronica commented that he was addicted to affairs.
Finally, in the same year, he married Yolanda “Lonnie” Williams. Then, they adopted a son, Asaad Amin, when he was 5 months.
Since then, Ali has lived with Lonnie in Scottsdale. However, he also had homes in Kentucky and Michigan.
After his death, Lonnie sold both his houses and lived in Paradise Valley, Arizona.
Muhammad Ali: Career
Muhammad began his boxing life at the age of 12. He went on to win his debut match in 1956.
At the age of 14, Ali won his first amateur fight. Two years later, he won the Novice Golden Gloves Tournament.
Next, he also won the AAU National Title for the light heavyweight division.
As an amateur, he became the best in the country. After 105 fights, he won 100 of them.
Hence, he was selected to be in the 1960 Rome Olympics. In the finals, he defeated the Polish opponent. Thus, he won gold.
After he arrived in his hometown, he started his professional career.
His debut match with Hunsaker in 1960 gave him his first win. By 1963, he had a clean slate of 19-0. No one could stop him.
However, his downfall came with Sonny Banks and Cooper. Sadly, he lost both his matches.
Clay also beat Doug Jones; their match was named “Fight of the Year” by The Ring magazine.
The legend also started his unusual habit of vocally belittling his opponents. Most of the time, his strategy worked in his favor.
Ali vs. Liston
Then Clay rose as an underdog and sought to fight the great heavyweight champion, Sonny Liston.
During the pre-match buildup, Clay often annoyed the player. Furthermore, he called him an “ugly bear.”
During their fight, Liston was ahead until the fourth round. Due to his superior build, he dominated the smaller player.
However, Ali bounced back miraculously. In the fifth round, he started hitting the tired opponent.
By the seventh round, Liston gave up. Thus, Clay won the fight.
Winning at the age of 22, he became the youngest fighter to snatch a legend’s title.
In a controversial rematch between them, Liston was knocked down for 20 seconds. However, the referee hadn’t started the count.
Later, the match ended once the timekeepers pointed it out. Thus, Ali was victorious twice.
Ali vs. Floyd Patterson
The rising star defeated the former heavyweight champion, Patterson. Both played especially well. However, there was the use of foul words like calling Ali “Clay.”
The 12 round matches finished with a knockout from Ali. However, the enmity between the two is said to be just theatrics.
The defending champion later hosted a rematch to help broke Patterson earn money.
Revolting the Vietnam War
After his 18th birthday, the man had been posted in 1-A for Vietnam in 1962.
However, since he failed the writing test, he was moved to the 1-Y team.
Ali exceptionally decided not to be drafted. Then, he called himself a conscientious objector.
When he refused to stand during his induction, he was arrested.
Next, he was given 5 years of imprisonment and a $10,000 fine. He had stood before an all-white jury.
Yet, he appeared in the Supreme Court. Hence, he did not stay in jail at the time.
Later, he became arguably the most hated man in America after his stance on the Vietnam war. Moreover, he received a lot of death threats.
Journalists who supported him also received similar death threats.
However, Journalist William Rhode wrote in support anyway, “Ali’s action changed my standard for an athlete’s greatness…What are you doing for the liberation of your people?”
The Civil rights leaders often took Ali as a role model. Similarly, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and AI Shapton also spoke of his bravery.
The boxer was also honored with the Martin Luther King Award in 1970. As a boxer, he was also a champion of justice and peace.
Despite all his support, he was stripped of his boxing license. Later, in 1971, the Supreme Court overturned all his charges.
During and After Exile
From 1967 to 1970, Ali did not attend a single match. Most believe he was robbed of his peak years.
Yet, during this time, he advocated more against the war. Then, he went across colleges to give speeches.
Nevertheless, he was widely condemned by the American media.
Ali vs. Joe Frazier
After putting political pressure, the legend received his license in 1970. Then, he went on to take on Frazier.
In his absence, Frazier became the dominant champion in heavyweight boxing.
Held on March 8, 1971, the fight with Frazier has been named “Fight of the Century.”
Likewise, the broadcast was held in 36 countries with over 1 billion viewers.
Although an African-American boxer, Ali named his opponent “Uncle Tom,” a derogatory name.
Due to his, the match’s marketing shot up in boxing history.
The match held in Madison Square Garden lasted for 15 rounds.
In a way, Ali’s arrogance led to his downfall. Not only he refused to adapt, but he did not expect his opponent to match him.
Hence, in the 15th round, he received his career’s first knockout. Thus, he lost his title.
Quarry, Patterson, Foster, and Norton
The loss against Frazier made him mad. However, it changed the way he saw the game.
Later, he practiced more than ever. Then, he went on to win 10 times consecutively in his next games.
His losing opponents were Quarry, Foster, and Patterson, for the second time.
Nevertheless, Ken Norton, an underdog, broke his jaw. Thus, he faced his second professional loss.
After six months, they had a rematch. Therefore, Ali won the match to avenge his loss.
Similarly, he avenged his first loss against Frazier. With better performance, he won the game flawlessly.
Rumble in the Jungle
Finally, the legend went to the World Boxing Championship.
George Foreman, the world’s heaviest hitter, was his biggest challenge. Unlike Ali, he had won both Frazier and Norton in two rounds.
Then, Ali built up a pre-game heat against George.
Everyone was worried about Ali. However, he shocked the world again.
He carefully protected his head in the game. Basically, he took massive hits on his body.
During the fight, he taunted the player by saying, “Is that all you got, George?”
Finally, after tiring George, Ali moved to offense. Thus, with 5 punches to the head and a right hook, he knocked out George.
The most noteworthy game of his career won him his champion title.
After his win, he defended his title three times consecutively.
Thrilla in Manila
In inhuman heat, Ali fought against Frazier third time in his career. Both held equal hatred against each other.
The match went on with Ali’s best hooks against Frazier’s head punches.
However, by the 15th round, the opponent was completely blind. So, his coach stopped the match.
Despite rumors of retirement, Ali kept fighting to donate his wins to charities.
Likewise, he held exhibition matches against celebrities like Inoki, Alzado, and Semenko.
However, since he was already degrading, he got his third loss.
Leon Spinks defeated the legend in 1978. Yet, the man of talent forged a rematch.
He kept his title by winning against Spinks.
Business Career with Main Bout
After the fight with Patterson, he started his own production company called the Main bout.
At first, the company handled Ali’s boxing promotions.
Later, they started pay-per-view closed-circuit television broadcasts.
Moreover, the company’s board members consisted of the fellow nation of Islam Members.
Amidst his stance on the Vietnam war, he won bouts against George Chuvalo, Henry Cooper, and Brian London.
Similarly, the bout between him and Cleveland Willians broke the record on the indoor crowd.
Likewise, Ali had the bloodiest match in history with Terell in 1967. Yet, after 15 rounds, he claimed victory.
Ali penned his own autobiography called The Greatest: My Own Story with Richard Durham.
Later, he wrote another book called Soul of a Butterfly with his daughter Hana Yasmeen Ali.
Multi-talented Ali also wrote rhyme schemes and spoken word poetry frequently.
In fact, he is often regarded for shaping the black poetic tradition.
In 1963, he released his spoken word album titled I am the Greatest. Furthermore, it sold around 500,000 copies.
Due to his rhymes and trash talk, he also identifies with rap songs.
Nevertheless, his freestyling and flow would now be typical old school MCs.
In 2006, a documentary called Ali Rap came on with host Chuck D.
The legend has been quoted often by rappers like Eminem and Jay-Z as well.
The legendary boxer also tried his hand at Wrestling.
In Philadelphia Arena, Ali challenged Gorilla Monsoon. Then, the wrestler put the boxer in a spin and dumped him on the mat.
Later in 1985, he became the special guest referee in WrestleMania1.
In 1995, he also starred in a match between Antonia Inoki and Ric Flair. Similarly, he was a guest at Collision, even in Korea.
Legacy, Honors, and Awards
In 1994, he was awarded the Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year. In the same year, he got Sports Illustrator’s Sportsperson of the Year.
Next, he became BBC’s Sports Personality in three different years.
After that, he got the Milliyet Sports Award for World Athlete of the Year many times.
He is also the humble receiver of the BET Humanitarian Award in 2002.
In the following year, Ali was awarded Bambi- Millennium Award.
The legend spent his retirement on philandrist activities.
As he aged, he had Parkinson’s disease. In 2016, he was hospitalized due to respiratory failure.
Finally, on June 3, 2016, he rested his eyes at the age of 74.
Muhammad Ali: Controversies
Kiiurtsi Mensah-Ali came forward as Ali’s daughter. She said her mother, Barbara Mensah had a 20-year-old relationship with Ali.
Furthermore, she remarked that he had supported them financially but stopped when he married Lonnie.
Following the mishap, Temica Williams came forward with a sexual allegation towards Ali. She said that they had started a relationship when she was 12.
However, the case was dismissed years later under the statute of limitations.
Muhammad Ali: Net worth
As a world superstar, Ali’s net worth also shot up during his peak career.
Muhammad Ali’s net worth was estimated to be around $50 million to $80 million.
At one time, his lowest net worth was $3 million. However, his net worth shot up again.
He had three estates in Kentucky, Scottdale, and Michigan. Each of them amounted to around $3 000 000.
Ali also had a Rolls Royce car. It is said he had two to three such luxury cars.
Muhammad Ali: Social Media
As a celebrity in touch with his fans, Ali got super popular on social media as well.
First of all, he garnered over 4.3 million followers on his Instagram.
Next, his Twitter has about 880.7k followers. His Twitter has been verified like his Instagram and Facebook.
Finally, his Facebook has the highest following of 11 million likes so far.
All his social media accounts are being used to give tribute to the legendary boxer.
Trivia on Ali
- Ali famously refused to go in the Vietnam War draft. Moreover, his story lives on with the 2013 documentary The Trials of Muhammad Ali.
- Unfortunately, the National Security Agency (NSA) intercepted his communications. Furthermore, the operation was revealed to be “Minaret” that reviewed those against the Vietnam War.
- Likewise, he filmed 75 one-minute sparring videos with Rocky Marciano. Then, a computer analyzed the winner. In the U.S. version, Ali lost.
- In 1979, Ali, in an exhibition match, fought NFL player Lyle Anzaldo. Nonetheless, the game was a draw.
Did Will Smith play Muhammad Ali?
Yes, Will Smith starred as the legendary boxer in the 2001 film Ali. Following the movie, it shows his earlier years to reclaim his title in 1974.
Who did Ali lose to?
Ali lost to three boxers in his career. However, he said Sonny Liston was his greatest opponent.
Did Muhammad Ali go to jail?
No, the player was charged with disobeying the draft. However, he did not have to stay in jail because he appealed the decision.