The Life of Muhammad Ali
On the anniversary of Muhammad Ali's death, we remember how one of the greatest athletes of all time took a stand for civil rights and trailblazed for Muslim-Americans. 🦋🐝
Meet Muhammad Ali
Cassius was born in segregated Louisville, Kentucky on January 17, 1942. He began to box at age 12, after reporting the theft of his bike to a police officer who happened to be a boxing trainer. At 18, Clay already had two national Golden Glove titles and on February 25, 1964, Clay achieved his dream of winning the Heavyweight title, after defeating Sonny Liston. But at the press conference the next morning, Clay stunned the world by announcing his conversion to Islam. He had developed a friendship with civil rights icon and Nation Of Islam leader Malcolm X. By March, Cassius Clay was Muhammad Ali.
After defending his title 8 times, Ali was drafted up to serve in the military during the Vietnam War, which he refused on religious grounds. Ali was fined sentenced to prison and banned from boxing for three years. He became a huge anti-war activist before his boxing license was reinstated in 1970.
In 1974, a 32-year-old Ali defeated the 25-year-old defending heavyweight George Foreman in one of the greatest comebacks in sports history, reclaiming his stripped title. He retired from boxing in 1981. In 1984, he was diagnosed with Parkinson's Syndrome limiting his motor skills, movement, and speech. But he continued humanitarian advocacy, meeting with Saddam Hussein in 1990 to negotiate release of American hostages.
Ali was crowned Sportsman of the Century by the BBC in 1999, given the Philadelphia Liberty Medal. and awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush. He died on June 3, 2016, a sports legend and civil rights icon.