|Muhammad Ali was born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr. on 17th January 1942). He won the World Heavyweight Boxing championship three times in addition to an Olympic gold medal.
Ali was born in Louisville, Kentucky. He was named after his father, Cassius Marcellus Clay, Sr., but later changed his name after joining the Nation of Islam and eventually converted to Sunni Islam in 1975.
He won his first professional fight on 29th October 1960 with a win over Tunney Hunsaker. From 1960 to 1963, his record was 19-0, with 15 knockouts. By 1964 he was the number one contender for a title fight against Sonny Liston. Clay was the underdog for the fight and Liston undertated the challenger. The title became Clay's when Liston failed to come out for the seventh round, claiming he had injured his shoulder.
About a month after the fight Clay changed his name to Muhammad Ali shortly after he announced that he was a member of the Nation of Islam. As a result of his beliefs he refused to serve in the United States Army during the conflict in Vietnam.
In 1967 Muhammad Ali was stripped of his title and banned from boxing for three years. He also sentenced to five years in prison convicted for refusing induction into the army.
In 1970 Ali was granted a boxing license to fight in Georgia and in 1971 his conviction was overturned. Wins against Jerry Quarry and Oscar Bonavena led to a title fight against Joe Frazier.
The title fight has become know as "The Fight of the Century", both fighters were undefeated. It went 15 rounds with Frazier eventually winning on a unanimous decision. This was Ali's first professional defeat.
Between 1973 and 1974 a series of bouts he earned a title fight with George Foreman. The fight was known as "The Rumble in the Jungle". Few people gave Ali a chance of winning. Ali won in 8 rounds.
"The Thriller in Manilla" was a rematch between Ali and Frazier. Ali won in 14 rounds. He evenutally lost his title in 1978 to Leon Spinks. six months later Ali won the rematch, 9 months later he announced his retirement.
He didnt remain retired for long and in October 1980 he challenged Larry Holmes for the WBC Heavyweight title. Ali lost in round eleven failing to win the title for a fourth time. He fought one more fight and then permanently retired in 1981. His professsional record was 56 wins (including 37 knockouts) and 5 losses.
In the early 1980s Ali was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.