Home > Categories > Sports > Boxing > Muhammad Ali's Biography

Muhammad Ali's Biography

Browse biogs A-Z

Born Cassius Clay in Louisville, Kentucky in 1942, Muhammad Ali won the Olympic gold medal in the light-heavyweight boxing division in Rome in 1960.

In 1963 he joined the Nation of Islam and changed his name to Muhammad Ali.

A year later Muhammad Ali beat Sonny Liston to become heavyweight champion. He then beat WBA titleholder, Ernie Terrell, to become undisputed champion.

In 1967, Muhammad Ali claimed exemption from the army draft on religious grounds, but was convicted of violating the Selective Service Act, barred from boxing and stripped of his title.

When Ali started fighting again he lost to Joe Frazier, but won the rematch and went on to fight George Foreman in the famous 'Rumble in the Jungle' and become the undisputed champion again.

In 1978 Muhammad Ali beat Leon Spinks and gained the title for the third time, but retired a year later.

After his retirement he has suffered from Parkinson's Disease, but made a surprise appearance at the Olympic torch-bearing ceremony in Atlanta, 1996.

In 1991, Michael Mann made a film of Ali's life starring Will Smith.

In the course of his boxing days, Ali came out with some great quotes, usually in the run-up to a fight. Examples of Muhammad Ali quotes are: 'I am the greatest'; 'Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee'; 'It's just a job. Grass grows, birds fly, waves pound the sand. I beat people up.'

Muhammad Ali became famous for reciting poems which carried his predictions for his fights.

In the Parkinson show the eponymous presenter interviewed Muhammad Ali and asked him if he had a prediction of what would happen in a rematch with Joe Frazier, Ali responded with this poem:

"Ding! Ali comes out to meet Frazier
But Frazier starts to retreat
If Frazier goes back any further
He'll wind up in a ringside seat

Ali swings to the left
Ali swings to the right
Look at the kid
Carry the fight

Frazier keeps backing
But there's not enough room
It's a matter of time
Then Ali lowers the boom

Now Ali lands to the right
What a beautiful swing!
And deposits Frazier
Clean out of the ring

Frazier's still rising
But the referee wears a frown
For he can't start counting
Till Frazier comes down

Now Frazier disappears from view
The crowd is getting frantic
But our radar stations have picked him up
He's somewhere over the Atlantic

Who would have thought that
When they came to the fight
That they would have witnessed
The launching of a coloured satellite!"

In August 2009, Muhammad Ali, touring the UK to raise money for charity, visited Ricky Hatton's gym in Manchester.

Muhammad Ali died on 3 June 2016, aged 74.

He had been admitted to a hospital in Phoenix, Arizona, suffering from a respiratory condition that was complicated by his Parkinson's disease.

Back to Top

Latest User CommentsAdd your comment
Add your comment
To ensure you are a real person and not a computer please enter the following characters shown below: