Ali in 1967
|Born||Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr.
January 17, 1942
Louisville, Kentucky, U.S.
|Died||June 3, 2016
Scottsdale, Arizona, U.S.
|Cause of death||Septic shock|
|Resting place||Cave Hill Cemetery, Louisville, Kentucky, U.S.|
|Education||Central High School (1958)|
|Criminal charge||Draft evasion|
|Criminal penalty||Five years in prison (not served), fined $10,000 and banned from boxing for three years|
|Criminal status||Conviction overturned|
|Children||9, including Laila Ali|
|Height||6 ft 3 in (191 cm)|
|Reach||78 in (198 cm)|
|Wins by KO||37|
Muhammad Ali (//; born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr.; January 17, 1942 – June 3, 2016) was an American professional boxer and activist. He is widely regarded as one of the most significant and celebrated sports figures of the 20th century. From early in his career, Ali was known as an inspiring, controversial, and polarizing figure both inside and outside the ring.
Cassius Clay was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky, and began training as an amateur boxer when he was 12 years old. At age 18, he won a gold medal in the light heavyweight division at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, after which he turned professional later that year. At age 22 in 1964, he won the WBA, WBC and lineal heavyweight titles from Sonny Liston in an upset. Clay then converted to Islam and changed his name from Cassius Clay, which he called his "slave name", to Muhammad Ali. He set an example of racial pride for African Americans and resistance to white domination during the 1960s Civil Rights Movement.
In 1966, two years after winning the heavyweight title, Ali further antagonized the white establishment in the U.S. by refusing to be conscripted into the U.S. military, citing his religious beliefs and opposition to American involvement in the Vietnam War. He was eventually arrested, found guilty of draft evasion charges and stripped of his boxing titles. He successfully appealed in the U.S. Supreme Court, which overturned his conviction in 1971, by which time he had not fought for nearly four years—losing a period of peak performance as an athlete. Ali's actions as a conscientious objector to the war made him an icon for the larger counterculture generation.
Ali is regarded as one of the leading heavyweight boxers of the 20th century. He remains the only three-time lineal heavyweight champion, having won the title in 1964, 1974 and 1978. Between February 25, 1964, and September 19, 1964, Ali reigned as the undisputed heavyweight champion. He is the only boxer to be named The Ring magazine Fighter of the Year six times. He was ranked as the greatest athlete of the 20th century by Sports Illustrated and the Sports Personality of the Century by the BBC. ESPN SportsCentury ranked him the third greatest athlete of the 20th century. Nicknamed "The Greatest", he was involved in several historic boxing matches. Notable among these were the first Liston fight; the "Fight of the Century", "Super Fight II" and the "Thrilla in Manila" versus his rival Joe Frazier; and "The Rumble in the Jungle" versus George Foreman.
At a time when most fighters let their managers do the talking, Ali thrived in—and indeed craved—the spotlight, where he was often provocative and outlandish. He was known for trash talking, and often freestyled with rhyme schemes and spoken word poetry, both for his trash talking in boxing and as political poetry for his activism, anticipating elements of rap and hip hop music. As a musician, Ali recorded two spoken word albums and a rhythm and blues song, and received two Grammy Award nominations. As an actor, he performed in several films and a Broadway musical. Ali wrote two autobiographies, one during and one after his boxing career.
As a Muslim, Ali was initially affiliated with Elijah Muhammad's Nation of Islam (NOI) and advocated their black separatist ideology. He later disavowed the NOI, adhering initially to Sunni Islam and later to Sufism, and supporting racial integration, like his former mentor Malcolm X. After retiring from boxing in 1981, Ali devoted his life to religious and charitable work. In 1984, Ali was diagnosed with Parkinson's syndrome, which his doctors attributed to boxing-related brain injuries. As the condition worsened, Ali made limited public appearances and was cared for by his family until his death on June 3, 2016 in Scottsdale, Arizona.
- 1 Early life and amateur career
- 2 Professional boxing
- 2.1 Early career
- 2.2 Heavyweight champion
- 2.3 Exile and comeback
- 2.4 Heavyweight champion (second reign)
- 2.5 Later career
- 3 Personal life
- 4 Vietnam War and resistance to the draft
- 5 Later years
- 6 Boxing style
- 7 Ali and his contemporaries
- 8 Legacy
- 9 Professional boxing record
- 10 See also
- 11 Notes
- 12 References
- 13 Further reading
- 14 External links
Early life and amateur career
Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. (//) was born on January 17, 1942, in Louisville, Kentucky. He had a sister and four brothers. He was named for his father, Cassius Marcellus Clay Sr., who himself was named in honor of the 19th-century Republican politician and staunch abolitionist, Cassius Marcellus Clay, also from the state of Kentucky. Clay's father's paternal grandparents were John Clay and Sallie Anne Clay; Clay's sister Eva claimed that Sallie was a native of Madagascar. He was a descendant of slaves of the antebellum South, and was predominantly of African descent, with smaller amounts of Irish and English heritage. His father painted billboards and signs, and his mother, Odessa O'Grady Clay, was a domestic helper. Although Cassius Sr. was a Methodist, he allowed Odessa to bring up both Cassius Jr. and his younger brother Rudolph "Rudy" Clay (later renamed Rahman Ali) as Baptists. Cassius Jr. attended Central High School in Louisville.
Clay grew up amid racial segregation. His mother recalled one occasion where he was denied a drink of water at a store—"They wouldn't give him one because of his color. That really affected him." He was also affected by the 1955 murder of Emmett Till, which led to young Clay and a friend taking out their frustration by vandalizing a local railyard.
Clay was first directed toward boxing by Louisville police officer and boxing coach Joe E. Martin, who encountered the 12-year-old fuming over a thief taking his bicycle. He told the officer he was going to "whup" the thief. The officer told him he had better learn how to box first. Initially, Clay did not take up on Martin's offer, but after seeing amateur boxers on a local television boxing program called Tomorrow's Champions, Clay was interested in the prospects of fighting for fame, fortune, and glory. For the last four years of Clay's amateur career he was trained by boxing cutman Chuck Bodak.
Clay made his amateur boxing debut in 1954 against local amateur boxer Ronnie O'Keefe. He won by split decision. He went on to win six Kentucky Golden Gloves titles, two national Golden Gloves titles, an Amateur Athletic Union national title, and the Light Heavyweight gold medal in the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome. Clay's amateur record was 100 wins with five losses. Ali said in his 1975 autobiography that shortly after his return from the Rome Olympics, he threw his gold medal into the Ohio River after he and a friend were refused service at a "whites-only" restaurant and fought with a white gang. The story was later disputed and several of Ali's friends, including Bundini Brown and photographer Howard Bingham, denied it. Brown told Sports Illustrated writer Mark Kram, "Honkies sure bought into that one!" Thomas Hauser's biography of Ali stated that Ali was refused service at the diner but that he lost his medal a year after he won it. Ali received a replacement medal at a basketball intermission during the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, where he lit the torch to start the games.
Clay made his professional debut on October 29, 1960, winning a six-round decision over Tunney Hunsaker. From then until the end of 1963, Clay amassed a record of 19–0 with 15 wins by knockout. He defeated boxers including Tony Esperti, Jim Robinson, Donnie Fleeman, Alonzo Johnson, George Logan, Willi Besmanoff, Lamar Clark, Doug Jones and Henry Cooper. Clay also beat his former trainer and veteran boxer Archie Moore in a 1962 match.
These early fights were not without trials. Clay was knocked down both by Sonny Banks and Cooper. In the Cooper fight, Clay was floored by a left hook at the end of round four and was saved by the bell, going on to win in the predicted 5th round due to Cooper's severely cut eye. The fight with Doug Jones on March 13, 1963, was Clay's toughest fight during this stretch. The number-two and -three heavyweight contenders respectively, Clay and Jones fought on Jones' home turf at New York's Madison Square Garden. Jones staggered Clay in the first round, and the unanimous decision for Clay was greeted by boos and a rain of debris thrown into the ring (watching on closed-circuit TV, heavyweight champ Sonny Liston quipped that if he fought Clay he might get locked up for murder). The fight was later named "Fight of the Year" by The Ring magazine.
In each of these fights, Clay vocally belittled his opponents and vaunted his abilities. He called Jones "an ugly little man" and Cooper a "bum". He was embarrassed to get in the ring with Alex Miteff. Madison Square Garden was "too small for me". Clay's behavior provoked the ire of many boxing fans. His provocative and outlandish behavior in the ring was inspired by professional wrestler "Gorgeous George" Wagner. Ali stated in a 1969 interview with the Associated Press' Hubert Mizel that he met with Gorgeous George in Las Vegas in 1961 and that the wrestler inspired him to use wrestling jargon when he did interviews.
After Clay left Moore's camp in 1960, partially due to Clay's refusing to do chores such as dish-washing and sweeping, he hired Angelo Dundee, whom he had met in February 1957 during Ali's amateur career, to be his trainer. Around this time, Clay sought longtime idol Sugar Ray Robinson to be his manager, but was rebuffed.
By late 1963, Clay had become the top contender for Sonny Liston's title. The fight was set for February 25, 1964, in Miami Beach. Liston was an intimidating personality, a dominating fighter with a criminal past and ties to the mob. Based on Clay's uninspired performance against Jones and Cooper in his previous two fights, and Liston's destruction of former heavyweight champion Floyd Patterson in two first-round knock outs, Clay was a 7–1 underdog. Despite this, Clay taunted Liston during the pre-fight buildup, dubbing him "the big ugly bear". "Liston even smells like a bear", Clay said. "After I beat him I'm going to donate him to the zoo." Clay turned the pre-fight weigh-in into a circus, shouting at Liston that "someone is going to die at ringside tonight". Clay's pulse rate was measured at 120, more than double his normal 54. Many of those in attendance thought Clay's behavior stemmed from fear, and some commentators wondered if he would show up for the bout.
The outcome of the fight was a major upset. At the opening bell, Liston rushed at Clay, seemingly angry and looking for a quick knockout, but Clay's superior speed and mobility enabled him to elude Liston, making the champion miss and look awkward. At the end of the first round Clay opened up his attack and hit Liston repeatedly with jabs. Liston fought better in round two, but at the beginning of the third round Clay hit Liston with a combination that buckled his knees and opened a cut under his left eye. This was the first time Liston had ever been cut. At the end of round four, as Clay returned to his corner, he began experiencing blinding pain in his eyes and asked his trainer Angelo Dundee to cut off his gloves. Dundee refused. It has been speculated that the problem was due to ointment used to seal Liston's cuts, perhaps deliberately applied by his corner to his gloves. Though unconfirmed, Bert Sugar claimed that two of Liston's opponents also complained about their eyes "burning".
Despite Liston's attempts to knock out a blinded Clay, Clay was able to survive the fifth round until sweat and tears rinsed the irritation from his eyes. In the sixth, Clay dominated, hitting Liston repeatedly. Liston did not answer the bell for the seventh round, and Clay was declared the winner by TKO. Liston stated that the reason he quit was an injured shoulder. Following the win, a triumphant Clay rushed to the edge of the ring and, pointing to the ringside press, shouted: "Eat your words!" He added, "I am the greatest! I shook up the world. I'm the prettiest thing that ever lived."
In winning this fight, Clay became at age 22 the youngest boxer to take the title from a reigning heavyweight champion, though Floyd Patterson was the youngest to win the heavyweight championship at 21, during an elimination bout following Rocky Marciano's retirement. Mike Tyson broke both records in 1986 when he defeated Trevor Berbick to win the heavyweight title at age 20.
Soon after the Liston fight, Clay changed his name to Cassius X, and then later to Muhammad Ali upon converting to Islam and affiliating with the Nation of Islam. Ali then faced a rematch with Liston scheduled for May 1965 in Lewiston, Maine. It had been scheduled for Boston the previous November, but was postponed for six months due to Ali's emergency surgery for a hernia three days before. The fight was controversial. Midway through the first round, Liston was knocked down by a difficult-to-see blow the press dubbed a "phantom punch". Ali refused to retreat to a neutral corner, and referee Jersey Joe Walcott did not begin the count. Liston rose after he had been down about 20 seconds, and the fight momentarily continued. But a few seconds later Walcott stopped the match, declaring Ali the winner by knockout. The entire fight lasted less than two minutes.
It has since been speculated that Liston dropped to the ground purposely. Proposed motivations include threats on his life from the Nation of Islam, that he had bet against himself and that he "took a dive" to pay off debts. Slow-motion replays show that Liston was jarred by a chopping right from Ali, although it is unclear whether the blow was a genuine knockout punch.
Ali defended his title against former heavyweight champion Floyd Patterson on November 22, 1965. Before the match, Ali mocked Patterson, who was widely known to call him by his former name Cassius Clay, as an "Uncle Tom", calling him "The Rabbit". Although Ali clearly had the better of Patterson, who appeared injured during the fight, the match lasted 12 rounds before being called on a technical knockout. Patterson later said he had strained his sacroiliac. Ali was criticized in the sports media for appearing to have toyed with Patterson during the fight.
Ali and then-WBA heavyweight champion boxer Ernie Terrell had agreed to meet for a bout in Chicago on March 29, 1966 (the WBA, one of two boxing associations, had stripped Ali of his title following his joining the Nation of Islam). But in February Ali was reclassified by the Louisville draft board as 1-A from 1-Y, and he indicated that he would refuse to serve, commenting to the press, "I ain't got nothing against no Viet Cong; no Viet Cong never called me nigger." Amidst the media and public outcry over Ali's stance, the Illinois Athletic Commission refused to sanction the fight, citing technicalities.
Ali returned to the United States to fight Cleveland Williams in the Houston Astrodome on November 14, 1966. The bout drew a record-breaking indoor crowd of 35,460 people. Williams had once been considered among the hardest punchers in the heavyweight division, but in 1964 he had been shot at point-blank range by a Texas policeman, resulting in the loss of one kidney and 10 feet (3.0 m) of his small intestine. Ali dominated Williams, winning a third-round technical knockout in what some consider the finest performance of his career.
Ali fought Terrell in Houston on February 6, 1967. Terrell was billed as Ali's toughest opponent since Liston—unbeaten in five years and having defeated many of the boxers Ali had faced. Terrell was big, strong and had a three-inch reach advantage over Ali. During the lead up to the bout, Terrell repeatedly called Ali "Clay", much to Ali's annoyance (Ali called Cassius Clay his "slave name"). The two almost came to blows over the name issue in a pre-fight interview with Howard Cosell. Ali seemed intent on humiliating Terrell. "I want to torture him", he said. "A clean knockout is too good for him." The fight was close until the seventh round when Ali bloodied Terrell and almost knocked him out. In the eighth round, Ali taunted Terrell, hitting him with jabs and shouting between punches, "What's my name, Uncle Tom... what's my name?" Ali won a unanimous 15-round decision. Terrell claimed that early in the fight Ali deliberately thumbed him in the eye—forcing Terrell to fight half-blind—and then, in a clinch, rubbed the wounded eye against the ropes. Because of Ali's apparent intent to prolong the fight to inflict maximum punishment, critics described the bout as "one of the ugliest boxing fights". Tex Maule later wrote: "It was a wonderful demonstration of boxing skill and a barbarous display of cruelty." Ali denied the accusations of cruelty but, for Ali's critics, the fight provided more evidence of his arrogance.
After Ali's title defense against Zora Folley on March 22, he was stripped of his title due to his refusal to be drafted to army service. His boxing license was also suspended by the state of New York. He was convicted of draft evasion on June 20 and sentenced to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. He paid a bond and remained free while the verdict was being appealed.
Exile and comeback
In March 1966, Ali refused to be inducted into the armed forces. He was systematically denied a boxing license in every state and stripped of his passport. As a result, he did not fight from March 1967 to October 1970—from ages 25 to almost 29—as his case worked its way through the appeals process before his conviction was overturned in 1971. During this time of inactivity, as opposition to the Vietnam War began to grow and Ali's stance gained sympathy, he spoke at colleges across the nation, criticizing the Vietnam War and advocating African American pride and racial justice.
Fantasy fight against Rocky Marciano
While still banned from sanctioned bouts, Ali accepted $10,000 to appear in a privately staged fantasy fight against retired champion Rocky Marciano. In 1969 the boxers were filmed sparring for about 75 one-minute rounds; they acted out several different endings. A computer program purportedly determined the winner, based on data about the fighters. Edited versions of the bout were shown in movie theaters in 1970. In the U.S. version Ali lost in a simulated 13th-round knockout, but in the European version Marciano lost due to cuts, also simulated. Ali jokingly suggested that prejudice actually determined his defeat in the U.S. version. He was reported to say, "That computer was made in Alabama."
On August 11, 1970, with his case still in appeal, Ali was granted a license to box by the City of Atlanta Athletic Commission, thanks to State Senator Leroy R. Johnson. Ali's first return bout was against Jerry Quarry on October 26, resulting in a win after three rounds after Quarry was cut.
A month earlier, a victory in federal court forced the New York State Boxing Commission to reinstate Ali's license. He fought Oscar Bonavena at Madison Square Garden in December, an uninspired performance that ended in a dramatic technical knockout of Bonavena in the 15th round. The win left Ali as a top contender against heavyweight champion Joe Frazier.
First fight against Joe Frazier
Ali and Frazier's first fight, held at the Garden on March 8, 1971, was nicknamed the "Fight of the Century", due to the tremendous excitement surrounding a bout between two undefeated fighters, each with a legitimate claim as heavyweight champions. Veteran boxing writer John Condon called it "the greatest event I've ever worked on in my life". The bout was broadcast to 35 foreign countries; promoters granted 760 press passes.
Adding to the atmosphere were the considerable pre-fight theatrics and name calling. Ali portrayed Frazier as a "dumb tool of the white establishment". "Frazier is too ugly to be champ", Ali said. "Frazier is too dumb to be champ." Ali also frequently called Frazier an "Uncle Tom". Dave Wolf, who worked in Frazier's camp, recalled that, "Ali was saying 'the only people rooting for Joe Frazier are white people in suits, Alabama sheriffs, and members of the Ku Klux Klan. I'm fighting for the little man in the ghetto.' Joe was sitting there, smashing his fist into the palm of his hand, saying, 'What the fuck does he know about the ghetto?'"
Ali began training at a farm near Reading, Pennsylvania, in 1971 and, finding the country setting to his liking, sought to develop a real training camp in the countryside. He found a five-acre site on a Pennsylvania country road in the village of Deer Lake, Pennsylvania. On this site, Ali carved out what was to become his training camp, the camp where he lived and trained for all the many fights he had from 1972 on to the end of his career in the 1980s.
The Monday night fight lived up to its billing. In a preview of their two other fights, a crouching, bobbing and weaving Frazier constantly pressured Ali, getting hit regularly by Ali jabs and combinations, but relentlessly attacking and scoring repeatedly, especially to Ali's body. The fight was even in the early rounds, but Ali was taking more punishment than ever in his career. On several occasions in the early rounds he played to the crowd and shook his head "no" after he was hit. In the later rounds—in what was the first appearance of the "rope-a-dope strategy"—Ali leaned against the ropes and absorbed punishment from Frazier, hoping to tire him. In the 11th round, Frazier connected with a left hook that wobbled Ali, but because it appeared that Ali might be clowning as he staggered backwards across the ring, Frazier hesitated to press his advantage, fearing an Ali counter-attack. In the final round, Frazier knocked Ali down with a vicious left hook, which referee Arthur Mercante said was as hard as a man can be hit. Ali was back on his feet in three seconds. Nevertheless, Ali lost by unanimous decision, his first professional defeat.
Fights against Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry Quarry, Floyd Patterson, Bob Foster, and Ken Norton
In the same year basketball star Wilt Chamberlain challenged Ali, and a fight was scheduled for July 26. Although the seven foot two inch tall Chamberlain had formidable physical advantages over Ali, weighing 60 pounds more and able to reach 14 inches further, Ali was able to intimidate Chamberlain into calling off the bout by taunting him with calls of "Timber!" and "The tree will fall" during a shared interview. These statements of confidence unsettled his taller opponent to the point that he called off the bout.
After the loss to Frazier, Ali fought Jerry Quarry, had a second bout with Floyd Patterson and faced Bob Foster in 1972, winning a total of six fights that year. In 1973, Ken Norton broke Ali's jaw while giving him the second loss of his career. After initially seeking retirement, Ali won a controversial decision against Norton in their second bout, leading to a rematch at Madison Square Garden on January 28, 1974, with Joe Frazier, who had recently lost his title to George Foreman.
Second fight against Joe Frazier
Ali was strong in the early rounds of the fight, and staggered Frazier in the second round. Referee Tony Perez mistakenly thought he heard the bell ending the round and stepped between the two fighters as Ali was pressing his attack, giving Frazier time to recover. However, Frazier came on in the middle rounds, snapping Ali's head in round seven and driving him to the ropes at the end of round eight. The last four rounds saw round-to-round shifts in momentum between the two fighters. Throughout most of the bout, however, Ali was able to circle away from Frazier's dangerous left hook and to tie Frazier up when he was cornered, the latter a tactic that Frazier's camp complained of bitterly. Judges awarded Ali a unanimous decision.
Heavyweight champion (second reign)
The defeat of Frazier set the stage for a title fight against heavyweight champion George Foreman in Kinshasa, Zaire, on October 30, 1974—a bout nicknamed "The Rumble in the Jungle". Foreman was considered one of the hardest punchers in heavyweight history. In assessing the fight, analysts pointed out that Joe Frazier and Ken Norton—who had given Ali four tough battles and won two of them—had been both devastated by Foreman in second-round knockouts. Ali was 32 years old, and had clearly lost speed and reflexes since his twenties. Contrary to his later persona, Foreman was at the time a brooding and intimidating presence. Almost no one associated with the sport, not even Ali's long-time supporter Howard Cosell, gave the former champion a chance of winning.
As usual, Ali was confident and colorful before the fight. He told interviewer David Frost, "If you think the world was surprised when Nixon resigned, wait 'til I whup Foreman's behind!" He told the press, "I've done something new for this fight. I done wrestled with an alligator, I done tussled with a whale; handcuffed lightning, thrown thunder in jail; only last week, I murdered a rock, injured a stone, hospitalized a brick; I'm so mean I make medicine sick." Ali was wildly popular in Zaire, with crowds chanting "Ali, bomaye" ("Ali, kill him") wherever he went.
Ali opened the fight moving and scoring with right crosses to Foreman's head. Then, beginning in the second round—and to the consternation of his corner—Ali retreated to the ropes and invited Foreman to hit him while covering up, clinching and counter-punching, all while verbally taunting Foreman. The move, which would later become known as the "Rope-a-dope", so violated conventional boxing wisdom—letting one of the hardest hitters in boxing strike at will—that at ringside writer George Plimpton thought the fight had to be fixed. Foreman, increasingly angered, threw punches that were deflected and did not land squarely. Midway through the fight, as Foreman began tiring, Ali countered more frequently and effectively with punches and flurries, which electrified the pro-Ali crowd. In the eighth round, Ali dropped an exhausted Foreman with a combination at center ring; Foreman failed to make the count. Against the odds, and amidst pandemonium in the ring, Ali had regained the title by knockout. In reflecting on the fight, George Foreman later said: "I thought Ali was just one more knockout victim until, about the seventh round, I hit him hard to the jaw and he held me and whispered in my ear: 'That all you got, George?' I realized that this ain't what I thought it was."
Ali's next opponents included Chuck Wepner, Ron Lyle, and Joe Bugner. Wepner, a journeyman known as "The Bayonne Bleeder", stunned Ali with a knockdown in the ninth round; Ali would later say he tripped on Wepner's foot. It was a bout that would inspire Sylvester Stallone to create the acclaimed film, Rocky.
Ali then agreed to a third match with Joe Frazier in Manila. The bout, known as the "Thrilla in Manila", was held on October 1, 1975, in temperatures approaching 100 °F (38 °C). In the first rounds, Ali was aggressive, moving and exchanging blows with Frazier. However, Ali soon appeared to tire and adopted the "rope-a-dope" strategy, frequently resorting to clinches. During this part of the bout Ali did some effective counter-punching, but for the most part absorbed punishment from a relentlessly attacking Frazier. In the 12th round, Frazier began to tire, and Ali scored several sharp blows that closed Frazier's left eye and opened a cut over his right eye. With Frazier's vision now diminished, Ali dominated the 13th and 14th rounds, at times conducting what boxing historian Mike Silver called "target practice" on Frazier's head. The fight was stopped when Frazier's trainer, Eddie Futch, refused to allow Frazier to answer the bell for the 15th and final round, despite Frazier's protests. Frazier's eyes were both swollen shut. Ali, in his corner, winner by TKO, slumped on his stool, clearly spent.
An ailing Ali said afterwards that the fight "was the closest thing to dying that I know", and, when later asked if he had viewed the fight on videotape, reportedly said, "Why would I want to go back and see Hell?" After the fight he cited Frazier as "the greatest fighter of all times next to me".
On June 1, 1976, Ali removed his shirt and jacket and confronted professional wrestler Gorilla Monsoon in the ring after his match at a World Wide Wrestling Federation show in Philadelphia Arena. After dodging a few punches, Monsoon put Ali in an airplane spin and dumped him to the mat. Ali stumbled to the corner, where his associate Butch Lewis convinced him to walk away.
On June 26, 1976, Ali participated in an exhibition bout in Tokyo against Japanese professional wrestler and martial artist Antonio Inoki. Though the fight was a publicity stunt, Inoki's kicks caused bruises, two blood clots and an infection in Ali's legs. The match was ultimately declared a draw. After Ali's death, The New York Times declared it his least memorable fight. In hindsight, CBS Sports said the attention the mixed-style bout received "foretold the arrival of standardized MMA years later."
Ali fought Ken Norton for the third time at Yankee Stadium in September 1976, which he won in a heavily contested decision, which was loudly booed by the audience. Afterwards, he announced he was retiring from boxing to practice his faith, having converted to Sunni Islam after falling out with the Nation of Islam the previous year.
After returning to beat Alfredo Evangelista in May 1977, Ali struggled in his next fight against Earnie Shavers that September, getting pummeled a few times by punches to the head. Ali won the fight by another unanimous decision, but the bout caused his longtime doctor Ferdie Pacheco to quit after he was rebuffed for telling Ali he should retire. Pacheco was quoted as saying, "the New York State Athletic Commission gave me a report that showed Ali's kidneys were falling apart. I wrote to Angelo Dundee, Ali's trainer, his wife and Ali himself. I got nothing back in response. That's when I decided enough is enough."
In February 1978, Ali faced Leon Spinks at the Hilton Hotel in Las Vegas. At the time, Spinks had only seven professional fights to his credit, and had recently fought a draw with journeyman Scott LeDoux. Ali sparred less than two dozen rounds in preparation for the fight, and was seriously out of shape by the opening bell. He lost the title by split decision. A rematch followed shortly thereafter in New Orleans, which broke attendance records. Ali won a unanimous decision in an uninspiring fight, making him the first heavyweight champion to win the belt three times.
Following this win, on July 27, 1979, Ali announced his retirement from boxing. His retirement was short-lived, however; Ali announced his comeback to face Larry Holmes for the WBC belt in an attempt to win the heavyweight championship an unprecedented fourth time. The fight was largely motivated by Ali's need for money. Boxing writer Richie Giachetti said, "Larry didn't want to fight Ali. He knew Ali had nothing left; he knew it would be a horror."
It was around this time that Ali started struggling with vocal stutters and trembling hands. The Nevada Athletic Commission (NAC) ordered that he undergo a complete physical in Las Vegas before being allowed to fight again. Ali chose instead to check into the Mayo Clinic, who declared him fit to fight. Their opinion was accepted by the NAC on July 31, 1980, paving the way for Ali's return to the ring.
The fight took place on October 2, 1980, in Las Vegas Valley, with Holmes easily dominating Ali, who was weakened from thyroid medication he had taken to lose weight. Giachetti called the fight "awful ... the worst sports event I ever had to cover". Actor Sylvester Stallone at ringside said it was like watching an autopsy on a man who is still alive. Ali's trainer Angelo Dundee finally stopped the fight in the eleventh round, the only fight Ali lost by knockout. The Holmes fight is said to have contributed to Ali's Parkinson's syndrome. Despite pleas to definitively retire, Ali fought one last time on December 11, 1981, in Nassau, Bahamas, against Trevor Berbick, losing a ten-round decision.
Marriages and children
Ali was married four times and had seven daughters and two sons. Ali was introduced to cocktail waitress Sonji Roi by Herbert Muhammad and asked her to marry him after their first date. They were wed approximately one month later on August 14, 1964. They quarrelled over Sonji's refusal to adhere to strict Islamic dress and behavior codes, and her questioning of Elijah Muhammad's teachings. According to Ali, "She wouldn't do what she was supposed to do. She wore lipstick; she went into bars; she dressed in clothes that were revealing and didn't look right." The marriage was childless and they divorced on January 10, 1966. Just before the divorce was finalized, Ali sent Sonji a note: "You traded heaven for hell, baby."
On August 17, 1967, Ali married Belinda Boyd. After the wedding, she, like Ali, converted to Islam. She changed her name to Khalilah Ali, though she was still called Belinda by old friends and family. They had four children: Maryum "May May" (born 1968), twins Jamillah and Rasheda (born 1970; Rasheda married Robert Walsh and has a son Biaggio Ali, born in 1998), and Muhammad Ali Jr. (born 1972). Maryum has a career as an author and rapper.
Ali was a resident of Cherry Hill, New Jersey, in the early 1970s. In 1974, Ali began a relationship with the 16-year-old Wanda Bolton (who subsequently changed her name to Aaisha Ali) with whom he fathered another daughter, Khaliah (born 1974). While still married to Belinda, Ali married Aaisha in an Islamic ceremony that was not legally recognized. According to Khaliah, she and her mother lived at Ali's Deer Lake training camp alongside Belinda and her children. In January 1985 Aaisha sued Ali for unpaid palimony. The case was settled when Ali agreed to set up a $200,000 trust fund for Khaliah. In 2001 Khaliah was quoted as saying she believed her father viewed her as "a mistake". He also had another daughter, Miya, from an extramarital relationship.
In 1975, Ali began an affair with Veronica Porché, an actress and model. While Ali was in the Philippines for the "Thrilla in Manila" against Joe Frazier, Belinda was enraged when she saw Ali on television introducing Veronica to Ferdinand Marcos. She flew out to Manila to confront Ali and scratched his face during their argument. Belinda later said that marriage to Ali was a "rollercoaster ride – it had its ups and its downs but it was fun". Referring to his infidelities, she said: "Tiger Woods and Arnold Schwarzenegger didn't have nothing on Muhammad Ali". She believes he had "many more" illegitimate children.
By the summer of 1977, his second marriage was over and he had married Porché. At the time of their marriage, they had a baby girl, Hana, and Veronica was pregnant with their second child. Their second daughter, Laila Ali, was born in December 1977. By 1986, Ali and Porché were divorced.
On November 19, 1986, Ali married Yolanda ("Lonnie") Williams. They had been friends since 1964 in Louisville. Together they adopted a son, Asaad Amin, when Amin was five months old.
Kiiursti Mensah-Ali claims to be Ali's biological daughter with Barbara Mensah, with whom he had a 20-year relationship, citing photographs and a paternity test conducted in 1988. She said he accepted responsibility and took care of her, but all contacts with him were cut off after he married his fourth wife Lonnie. Kiiursti claims to have a relationship with his other children. After his death she again made passionate appeals to be allowed to mourn at his funeral.
In 2010, Osmon Williams came forward claiming to be Ali's biological son. His mother Temica Williams (also known as Rebecca Holloway) had sued Ali for sexual assault in 1981, claiming that she had started a sexual relationship with him when she was 12, and that her son Osmon (born 1977) was fathered by Ali. The case went on until 1986 and was eventually thrown out as her allegations were deemed to be barred by the statute of limitations.
Ali then lived in Scottsdale, Arizona, with Lonnie. In January 2007 it was reported that they had put their home in Berrien Springs, Michigan, up for sale and had purchased a home in eastern Jefferson County, Kentucky for $1,875,000. Lonnie converted to Islam from Catholicism in her late twenties.
Ali's daughter Laila became a boxer in 1999, despite her father's earlier comments against female boxing in 1978: "Women are not made to be hit in the breast, and face like that... the body's not made to be punched right here [patting his chest]. Get hit in the breast... hard... and all that."
Religion and beliefs
Affiliation with the Nation of Islam
Ali said that he first heard of the Nation of Islam when he was fighting in the Golden Gloves tournament in Chicago in 1959, and attended his first Nation of Islam meeting in 1961. He continued to attend meetings, although keeping his involvement hidden from the public. In 1962, Clay met Malcolm X, who soon became his spiritual and political mentor. By the time of the first Liston fight, Nation of Islam members, including Malcolm X, were visible in his entourage. This led to a story in The Miami Herald just before the fight disclosing that Clay had joined the Nation of Islam, which nearly caused the bout to be canceled.
In fact, Clay was initially refused entry to the Nation of Islam (often called the Black Muslims at the time) due to his boxing career. However, after he won the championship from Liston in 1964, the Nation of Islam was more receptive and agreed to publicize his membership. Shortly afterwards, Elijah Muhammad recorded a statement that Clay would be renamed Muhammad (one who is worthy of praise) Ali (Ali is the most important figure after Muhammad in Shia view and fourth rightly guided caliph in Sunni view). Around that time Ali moved to the south side of Chicago and lived in a series of houses, always near the Nation of Islam's Mosque Maryam or Elijah Muhammad's residence. He stayed in Chicago for about 12 years.
Only a few journalists (most notably Howard Cosell) accepted the new name at that time. Ali later announced: "Cassius Clay is my slave name." Not afraid to antagonize the white establishment, Ali stated, "I am America. I am the part you won't recognize. But get used to me. Black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own; get used to me." Ali's friendship with Malcolm X ended as Malcolm split with the Nation of Islam a couple of weeks after Ali joined, and Ali remained with the Nation of Islam. Ali later said that turning his back on Malcolm was one of the mistakes he regretted most in his life.
Aligning himself with the Nation of Islam, its leader Elijah Muhammad, and a narrative that labeled the white race as the perpetrator of genocide against African Americans made Ali a target of public condemnation. The Nation of Islam was widely viewed by whites and even some African Americans as a black separatist "hate religion" with a propensity toward violence; Ali had few qualms about using his influential voice to speak Nation of Islam doctrine. In a press conference articulating his opposition to the Vietnam War, Ali stated, "My enemy is the white people, not Viet Cong or Chinese or Japanese." In relation to integration, he said: "We who follow the teachings of Elijah Muhammad don't want to be forced to integrate. Integration is wrong. We don't want to live with the white man; that's all".
Writer Jerry Izenberg once noted that, "the Nation became Ali's family and Elijah Muhammad became his father. But there is an irony to the fact that while the Nation branded white people as devils, Ali had more white colleagues than most African American people did at that time in America, and continued to have them throughout his career."
In a 2004 autobiography, Ali attributed his conversion to mainstream Sunni Islam to Warith Deen Muhammad who gained control of the Nation of Islam, upon the death of Elijah Muhammad, and persuaded the Nation's followers to become adherents of Sunni Islam.
Ali had gone on the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca in 1972, which inspired him in a similar manner to Malcolm X, meeting people of different colors from all over the world giving him a different outlook and greater spiritual awareness. In 1977, he said that, after he retired, he would dedicate the rest of his life to getting "ready to meet God" by helping people, charitable causes, uniting people and helping to make peace. He went on another Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca in 1988.
After the September 11 attacks in 2001, he stated that "Islam is a religion of peace" and "does not promote terrorism or killing people", and that he was "angry that the world sees a certain group of Islam followers who caused this destruction, but they are not real Muslims. They are racist fanatics who call themselves Muslims". In December 2015, he stated that "True Muslims know that the ruthless violence of so-called Islamic jihadists goes against the very tenets of our religion", that "We as Muslims have to stand up to those who use Islam to advance their own personal agenda", and that "political leaders should use their position to bring understanding about the religion of Islam, and clarify that these misguided murderers have perverted people's views on what Islam really is."
In later life, Ali developed an interest in Sufism, which he referenced in his autobiography, The Soul of a Butterfly. Around 2005, Ali converted to Sufi Islam and announced that out of all Islamic sects, he felt most strongly inclined towards Sufism. According to Ali's daughter, Hana Yasmeen Ali, who co-authored The Soul of a Butterfly with him, Ali was attracted to Sufism after reading the books of Inayat Khan which contain Sufi teachings.
Vietnam War and resistance to the draft
Ali registered for conscription in the United States military on his 18th birthday and was listed as 1-A in 1962. In 1964, he was reclassified as Class 1-Y (fit for service only in times of national emergency) after he failed the U.S. Armed Forces qualifying test because his writing and spelling skills were sub-standard. (He was quoted as saying, "I said I was the greatest, not the smartest!") By early 1966, the army lowered its standards to permit soldiers above the 15th percentile and Ali was again classified as 1-A. This classification meant he was now eligible for the draft and induction into the U.S. Army at a time when the U.S. was involved in the Vietnam War, a war which put him further at odds with the white establishment.
When notified of this status, Ali declared that he would refuse to serve in the army and publicly considered himself a conscientious objector. Ali stated: "War is against the teachings of the Qur'an. I'm not trying to dodge the draft. We are not supposed to take part in no wars unless declared by Allah or The Messenger. We don't take part in Christian wars or wars of any unbelievers." He stated: "Man, I ain't got no quarrel with them Viet Cong." Ali elaborated: "Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go ten thousand 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?"
Appearing for his scheduled induction into the U.S. Armed Forces on April 28, 1967, in Houston, Ali refused three times to step forward at the call of his name. An officer warned him he was committing a felony punishable by five years in prison and a fine of $10,000. Once more, Ali refused to budge when his name was called. As a result, he was arrested. On the same day the New York State Athletic Commission suspended his boxing license and stripped him of his title. Other boxing commissions followed suit. Ali would not be able to obtain a license to box in any state for over three years.[page needed]
At the trial on June 20, 1967, after only 21 minutes of deliberation, the jury found Ali guilty. After a Court of Appeals upheld the conviction, the case went to the U.S. Supreme Court.
In the years between the Appellate Court decision and the Supreme Court verdict, Ali remained free. As public opinion began turning against the war and the Civil Rights Movement continued to gather momentum, Ali became a popular speaker at colleges and universities across the country, rare if not unprecedented for a boxer. At Howard University, for example, he gave his popular "Black Is Best" speech to 4,000 cheering students and community intellectuals, after he was invited to speak by sociology professor Nathan Hare on behalf of the Black Power Committee, a student protest group.
On June 28, 1971, the Supreme Court of the United States in Clay v. United States overturned Ali's conviction by a unanimous 8–0 decision (Justice Thurgood Marshall recused himself, as he had been the U.S. Solicitor General at the time of Ali's conviction). The decision was not based on, nor did it address, the merits of Ali's claims per se; rather, the Court held that since the Appeal Board gave no reason for the denial of a conscientious objector exemption to Ali, and that it was therefore impossible to determine which of the three basic tests for conscientious objector status offered in the Justice Department's brief that the Appeals Board relied on, Ali's conviction must be reversed.
Impact of Ali's draft refusal
Ali's example inspired countless black Americans and others. The New York Times columnist William Rhoden wrote, "Ali's actions changed my standard of what constituted an athlete's greatness. Possessing a killer jump shot or the ability to stop on a dime was no longer enough. What were you doing for the liberation of your people? What were you doing to help your country live up to the covenant of its founding principles?"
Recalling Ali's anti-war position, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said: "I remember the teachers at my high school didn't like Ali because he was so anti-establishment and he kind of thumbed his nose at authority and got away with it. The fact that he was proud to be a black man and that he had so much talent ... made some people think that he was dangerous. But for those very reasons I enjoyed him."
Civil rights figures came to believe that Ali had an energizing effect on the freedom movement as a whole. Al Sharpton spoke of his bravery at a time when there was still widespread support for the Vietnam War. "For the heavyweight champion of the world, who had achieved the highest level of athletic celebrity, to put all of that on the line – the money, the ability to get endorsements – to sacrifice all of that for a cause, gave a whole sense of legitimacy to the movement and the causes with young people that nothing else could have done. Even those who were assassinated, certainly lost their lives, but they didn't voluntarily do that. He knew he was going to jail and did it anyway. That's another level of leadership and sacrifice."
In speaking of the cost on Ali's career of his refusal to be drafted, his trainer Angelo Dundee said, "One thing must be taken into account when talking about Ali: He was robbed of his best years, his prime years."
NSA and FBI monitoring of Ali's communications
In a secret operation code-named "Minaret", the National Security Agency (NSA) intercepted the communications of leading Americans, including Ali, Senators Frank Church and Howard Baker, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., prominent U.S. journalists, and others who criticized the U.S. war in Vietnam. A review by the NSA of the Minaret program concluded that it was "disreputable if not outright illegal".
In 1971, his Fight of the Century with Frazier provided cover for an activist group, the Citizens' Commission to Investigate the FBI, to successfully pull off a burglary at an FBI office in Pennsylvania, which exposed the COINTELPRO operations that included illegal spying on activists involved with the civil rights and anti-war movements. One of the COINTELPRO targets was Ali, which included the FBI gaining access to his records as far back as elementary school; one such record mentioned him loving art as a child.
Ali began visiting Africa starting in 1964, when he visited Ghana. In 1974, he visited a Palestinian refugee camp in Southern Lebanon, where Ali declared "support for the Palestinian struggle to liberate their homeland". In 1978, following his defeat to Spinks and before winning the rematch, Ali visited Bangladesh and received honorary citizenship there. The same year, he participated in The Longest Walk, a protest march in the United States in support of Native American rights, along with singer Stevie Wonder and actor Marlon Brando.
In 1980, he visited Kenya and successfully convinced the government to boycott the Moscow Olympics (in response to the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan). On January 19, 1981, in Los Angeles, Ali talked a suicidal man down from jumping off a ninth-floor ledge, an event that made national news.
Ali was diagnosed with Parkinson's syndrome in 1984, a disease that sometimes results from head trauma from activities such as boxing. Ali still remained active during this time, however, later participating as a guest referee at WrestleMania I.
In 1984, Ali announced his support for the re-election of United States President Ronald Reagan. When asked to elaborate on his endorsement of Reagan, Ali told reporters, "He's keeping God in schools and that's enough." In 1985, he visited Israel to request the release of Muslim prisoners at Atlit detainee camp, which Israel declined.
Around 1987, the California Bicentennial Foundation for the U.S. Constitution selected Ali to personify the vitality of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. Ali rode on a float at the following year's Tournament of Roses Parade, launching the U.S. Constitution's 200th birthday commemoration. In 1988, during the First Intifada, Ali participated in a Chicago rally in support of Palestine. The same year, he visited Sudan to raise awareness about the plight of famine victims. In 1989, he participated in an Indian charity event with the Muslim Educational Society in Kozhikode, Kerala, along with Bollywood actor Dilip Kumar.
In 1990, Ali traveled to Iraq prior to the Gulf War, and met with Saddam Hussein in an attempt to negotiate the release of American hostages. Ali successfully secured the release of the hostages, in exchange for promising Hussein that he'd bring America "an honest account" of Iraq. Despite rescuing hostages, he received criticism from President George H. W. Bush, diplomat Joseph C. Wilson, and The New York Times. Ali published an oral history, Muhammad Ali: His Life and Times by Thomas Hauser, in 1991. In 1996, he had the honor of lighting the flame at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia.
Ali's bout with Parkinson's led to a gradual decline in his health, though he was still active into the early years of the millennium, promoting his own biopic, Ali, in 2001. Ali also contributed an on-camera segment to the America: A Tribute to Heroes benefit concert.
In 1998, Ali began working with actor Michael J Fox, who has Parkinson's disease, to raise awareness and fund research for a cure. They made a joint appearance before Congress to push the case in 2002. In 2000, Ali worked with the Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Disease to raise awareness and encourage donations for research.
On September 1, 2009, Ali visited Ennis, County Clare, Ireland, the home of his great-grandfather, Abe Grady, who emigrated to the U.S. in the 1860s, eventually settling in Kentucky. A crowd of 10,000 turned out for a civic reception, where Ali was made the first Honorary Freeman of Ennis.
On July 27, 2012, Ali was a titular bearer of the Olympic Flag during the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. He was helped to his feet by his wife Lonnie to stand before the flag due to his Parkinson's rendering him unable to carry it into the stadium. In 2014, Ali tweeted in support of Trayvon Martin and the Black Lives Matter movement.
Illness and death
|Wikinews has related news: Boxing great Muhammed Ali dies aged 74|
In February 2013, Ali's brother Rahman Ali said Muhammad could no longer speak and could be dead within days. Ali's daughter May May Ali responded to the rumors, stating that she had talked to him on the phone the morning of February 3 and he was fine.
On December 20, 2014, Ali was hospitalized for a mild case of pneumonia. Ali was once again hospitalized on January 15, 2015, for a urinary tract infection after being found unresponsive at a guest house in Scottsdale, Arizona. He was released the next day.
Ali was hospitalized in Scottsdale on June 2, 2016, with a respiratory illness. Though his condition was initially described as "fair", it worsened and he died the following day, at the age of 74, from septic shock. Following Ali's death, he was the number one trending topic on Twitter for over 12 hours and on Facebook was trending topic number one for several days. ESPN played four hours of non-stop commercial-free coverage of Ali. BET played their documentary Muhammad Ali: Made In Miami. News networks such as CNN, BBC, Fox News, and ABC News also covered him extensively.
Ali was mourned globally, and a family spokesman said the family "certainly believes that Muhammad was a citizen of the world … and they know that the world grieves with him." Politicians such as Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, David Cameron and more paid tribute to Ali. Ali also received numerous tributes from the world of sports including Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Floyd Mayweather, Mike Tyson, the Miami Marlins, LeBron James, Steph Curry and more. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer stated, "Muhammad Ali belongs to the world. But he only has one hometown."
|"Muhammad Ali Memorial Service", C-SPAN|
Ali's funeral was preplanned by himself and others beginning years prior to his actual death. The services began in Louisville on June 9, 2016, with an Islamic Janazah prayer service at Freedom Hall on the grounds of the Kentucky Exposition Center. A funeral procession went through the streets of Louisville on June 10, 2016, ending at Cave Hill Cemetery, where a private interment ceremony occurred. Ali's grave is marked with a simple granite marker that bears only his name. A public memorial service for Ali at downtown Louisville's KFC Yum! Center was held in the afternoon of June 10. The pallbearers included Will Smith, Lennox Lewis and Mike Tyson, with honorary pallbearers including George Chuvalo, Larry Holmes and George Foreman.
Ali had a highly unorthodox boxing style for a heavyweight, epitomized by his catchphrase "float like a butterfly, sting like a bee". Never an overpowering puncher, Ali relied early in his career on his superior hand speed, superb reflexes and constant movement, dancing and circling opponents for most of the fight, holding his hands low and lashing out with a quick, cutting left jab that he threw from unpredictable angles. His footwork was so strong that it was extremely difficult for opponents to cut down the ring and corner Ali against the ropes. He was also able to quickly dodge punches with his head movement and footwork.
One of Ali's greatest tricks was to make opponents overcommit by pulling straight backward from punches. Disciplined, world-class boxers chased Ali and threw themselves off balance attempting to hit him because he seemed to be an open target, only missing and leaving themselves exposed to Ali's counter punches, usually a chopping right. Slow motion replays show that this was precisely the way Sonny Liston was hit and apparently knocked out by Ali in their second fight. Ali often flaunted his movement by dancing the "Ali Shuffle", a sort of center-ring jig. Ali's early style was so unusual that he was initially discounted because he reminded boxing writers of a lightweight, and it was assumed he would be vulnerable to big hitters like Sonny Liston.
Using a synchronizer, Jimmy Jacobs, who co-managed Mike Tyson, measured young Ali's punching speed versus Sugar Ray Robinson, a welter/middleweight, often considered the best pound-for-pound fighter in history. Ali was 25% faster than Robinson, even though Ali was 45–50 pounds heavier. Ali's punches produced approximately 1,000 pounds of force. "No matter what his opponents heard about him, they didn't realize how fast he was until they got in the ring with him", Jacobs said. The effect of Ali's punches was cumulative. Charlie Powell, who fought Ali early in Ali's career and was knocked out in the third round, said: "When he first hit me I said to myself, 'I can take two of these to get one in myself.' But in a little while I found myself getting dizzier and dizzier every time he hit me. He throws punches so easily that you don't realize how much they hurt you until it's too late."
Commenting on fighting the young Ali, George Chuvalo said: "He was just so damn fast. When he was young, he moved his legs and hands at the same time. He threw his punches when he was in motion. He'd be out of punching range, and as he moved into range he'd already begun to throw the punch. So if you waited until he got into range to punch back, he beat you every time."
Floyd Patterson said, "It's very hard to hit a moving target, and (Ali) moved all the time, with such grace, three minutes of every round for fifteen rounds. He never stopped. It was extraordinary."
Darrell Foster, who trained Will Smith for the movie Ali, said: "Ali's signature punches were the left jab and the overhand right. But there were at least six different ways Ali used to jab. One was a jab that Ali called the 'snake lick', like cobra striking that comes from the floor almost, really low down. Then there was Ali's rapid-fire jab—three to five jabs in succession rapidly fired at his opponents' eyes to create a blur in his face so he wouldn't be able to see the right hand coming behind it."
In the opinion of many, Ali became a different fighter after the 3½-year layoff. Ferdie Pacheco, Ali's corner physician, noted that he had lost his ability to move and dance as before. This forced Ali to become more stationary and exchange punches more frequently, exposing him to more punishment while indirectly revealing his tremendous ability to take a punch. This physical change led in part to the "rope-a-dope" strategy, where Ali would lie back on the ropes, cover up to protect himself and conserve energy, and tempt opponents to punch themselves out. Ali often taunted opponents in the process and lashed back with sudden, unexpected combinations. The strategy was dramatically successful in the George Foreman fight, but less so in the first Joe Frazier bout when it was introduced.
Of his later career, Arthur Mercante said: "Ali knew all the tricks. He was the best fighter I ever saw in terms of clinching. Not only did he use it to rest, but he was big and strong and knew how to lean on opponents and push and shove and pull to tire them out. Ali was so smart. Most guys are just in there fighting, but Ali had a sense of everything that was happening, almost as though he was sitting at ringside analyzing the fight while he fought it."
Ali regularly taunted and baited his opponents—including Liston, Frazier, and Foreman—before the fight and often during the bout itself. He said Frazier was "too dumb to be champion", that he would whip Liston "like his Daddy did", that Terrell was an "Uncle Tom" for refusing to call Ali by his name and continuing to call him Cassius Clay, and that Patterson was a "rabbit". In speaking of how Ali stoked Liston's anger and overconfidence before their first fight, one writer commented that "the most brilliant fight strategy in boxing history was devised by a teenager who had graduated 376 in a class of 391."
Ali typically portrayed himself as the "people's champion" and his opponent as a tool of the (white) establishment (despite the fact that his entourage often had more white faces than his opponents'). During the early part of his career, he built a reputation for predicting rounds in which he would finish opponents, often vowing to crawl across the ring or to leave the country if he lost the bout. Ali adopted the latter practice from "Gorgeous" George Wagner, a professional wrestling champion who drew thousands of fans to his matches as "the man you love to hate". When Ali was 19, Wagner, who was in town to wrestle Freddie Blassie and had crossed paths with Clay, told the boxer before a bout with Duke Sabedong in Las Vegas, "A lot of people will pay to see someone shut your mouth. So keep on bragging, keep on sassing and always be outrageous."
ESPN columnist Ralph Wiley called Ali "The King of Trash Talk". In 2013, The Guardian said Ali exemplified boxing's "golden age of trash talking". Bleacher Report called Clay's description of Sonny Liston smelling like a bear and his vow to donate him to a zoo after he beat him the greatest trash talk line in sports history.
Ali and his contemporaries
Ali and Frazier
In an interview published in 2002, Joe Frazier recalled that he had first met Ali around 1968. At this time Ali was continuing his legal fight to get his boxing license back, and Frazier was the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world. Frazier stated that he had campaigned vigorously for Ali to get his license; this included going to Washington and meeting the president to lobby on Ali's behalf. Frazier also lent Ali some money at this time.
According to Dave Wolf, former sports editor of Life and a member of Frazier's entourage, Frazier was keen for Ali's return to boxing, because he believed that beating Ali would win him unambiguous acknowledgement as the "best". According to Wolf, Frazier was also kind to Ali during this time—agreeing to participate in staged confrontations, which enabled Ali to get publicity and earn money giving lectures. Wolf states that Frazier had deep respect for Ali's religious beliefs, and even participated in Muslim services at Ali's suggestion. Until Ali got "nasty" before their first fight, Frazier endorsed Ali's refusal to be drafted; Wolf recalls: "I remember [Frazier] telling me, 'If Baptists weren't allowed to fight, I wouldn't fight either'."
Ali and Frazier knew they would become wealthy if Ali returned to the ring. Prior to their first fight, both had expressed a liking for each other. In 1970, Ali had stated: "Me and Joe Frazier will be buddies. I just want it to go down in history that I didn't sell out or Uncle Tom when I got famous, and I don't think Joe Frazier's going to do that either. He ain't dumb."
Ali and Frazier fought three fights in the span of five years; the first and third of these are widely regarded to be among the greatest of all boxing bouts, and the Ali-Frazier rivalry has been hailed as one of the greatest any sport has seen. Writing in Sports Illustrated, William Nack commented:
Of all the names joined forever in the annals of boxing—from Dempsey-Tunney to Louis-Schmeling, from Zale-Graziano to Leonard-Hearns—none are more fiercely bound by a hyphen than Ali-Frazier. Not Palmer-Nicklaus in golf nor Borg-McEnroe in tennis, as ardently competitive as these rivalries were, conjure up anything remotely close to the epic theater of Ali-Frazier.
According to Ali, Frazier's style of boxing made him a tougher opponent for him than Liston or Foreman because he was vulnerable to Frazier's in-close left hook. Had he fought with Frazier before his three-and-half year break from boxing, when he was younger, "I'd have danced for fifteen rounds, and Joe wouldn't have ever caught me."[b]
After Thrilla in Manila, Frazier called Ali "a great champion", and, referring to Ali, graciously stated that "[m]y man fought a good fight"; while Ali declared Frazier to be "the greatest fighter of all time next to me."
Trash talk and altercations
In the buildup to their three bouts, Ali called Frazier "dumb" and an "Uncle Tom" before their first fight, "ignorant" before the second, and a "gorilla" before the third. Dennis and Atyeo have noted that given Ali's warm words for Frazier in the past, his jibes about Frazier sounded hollow.
On January 23, 1974, five days before their second fight, Ali and Frazier had a public altercation captured on television. ABC Sports's Howard Cosell had arranged for the two to come to the studio to comment on their first fight. Things went smoothly until Frazier commented about Ali having to visit a hospital after the fight. Ali immediately responded by claiming he had gone to a hospital for ten minutes whereas Frazier had been hospitalized for three weeks after the fight,[c] and concluded by calling Frazier "ignorant." Frazier then snapped; removing his studio earplug, Frazier reached across to Ali protesting the usage of the word "ignorant". Soon the two were wrestling on the floor till they were separated by onlookers.[d]
According to veteran boxing commentator Ronnie Nathanielsz, during the buildup to Thrilla in Manilla, Ali once awakened Frazier in the middle of the night by constantly screaming. When Frazier appeared on the balcony of his hotel room, Ali pointed a toy gun at him and shouted: "I am going to shoot you."
Immediately after Thrilla in Manilla, Ali summoned Frazier's son Marvis to his dressing room and apologized for the things he had said about Frazier.[e] When Marvis conveyed Ali's contrition to him, Frazier commented that Ali should have communicated this to him directly. After returning to the US, Ali called Butch Lewis, and asked for Frazier's private number, saying he wanted to apologize to Frazier. Lewis then conveyed this request to Frazier, but was told not to share it with Ali, according to Lewis.
In 1988, Ali and Frazier joined Foreman, Larry Holmes, and Ken Norton in Las Vegas for the making of the film Champions Forever. At a local gym, Frazier came across Ali before a crowd of spectators, and said: "Look at Ali. Look what's happened to him. All your talkin', man. I'm faster than you are now. You're damaged goods." Ali, already afflicted with Parkinson's, insisted that he remained faster than Frazier and pointing to a heavy bag suggested a contest of who can hit the bag the fastest. Frazier immediately took off his coat, and moving to the bag, threw a dozen rapid punches at it accompanied by loud grunts. Without removing his coat, Ali strolled towards the bag, held the ready stance, mimicked a Frazier grunt without throwing a punch, and then addressed Frazier with the words "Wanna see it again, Joe?" Everyone laughed, except Frazier.
Later that day, Frazier started walking towards Ali after having one drink too many. Thomas Hauser, who was present, recalled that for the next 10 minutes Larry Holmes positioned himself between Ali and Frazier, preventing Frazier from reaching Ali. George Foreman then took over and acted as Ali's shield for the next 10 minutes. Throughout this incident, Ali remained oblivious to what was going on.
In his 1996 autobiography, in which he always refers to Ali as Cassius Clay, Frazier wrote:
Truth is, I'd like to rumble with that sucker [Ali] again—beat him up piece by piece and mail him back to Jesus.... Now people ask me if I feel bad for him, now that things aren't going so well for him. Nope. I don't. Fact is, I don't give a damn. They want me to love him, but I'll open up the graveyard and bury his ass when the Lord chooses to take him.
Commenting on Ali lighting the Olympic flame in 1996, Frazier stated that it would have been good if Ali had fallen into the cauldron after lighting the flame, and that he would have pushed Ali in himself if he had the chance to do so. In a press conference held on July 30, 1996, Frazier accused Ali of being a "draft dodger", and a racist;[f] and claimed he would have been a better choice to light the Olympic flame than Ali. Also in 1996, Frazier claimed Ali was suffering from "Joe Frazier-itis" and "left-hook-itis".
In a 1997 interview, Frazier expressed no regret for the words he had used for Ali at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. According to Frazier:
We weren't animals. We were human beings. He called me a gorilla. An Uncle Tom. Uncle Tom? I grew up so poor and so black in South Carolina, even the water we drank was colored. The only guy I 'tommed' for was him, giving in to him. God gave him so many gifts. Fast. Pretty. Smart. Strong. He didn't have to do what he did.
In a 2001 interview with the New York Times, Ali again apologized to Frazier for calling him names which, Ali claimed, was done to promote their fights. Frazier initially accepted the apology saying it was time to put this issue behind them. However, subsequently Frazier commented that Ali should apologize directly to him instead of apologizing through a newspaper. Reacting to this, Ali stated: "If you see Frazier, you tell him he's still a gorilla."
In his interview in Stephen Brunt's 2002 book Facing Ali, Frazier, referring to how he had contributed to Ali's infirmity, claimed he was sure Ali thinks of him whenever he gets out of bed, and that whatever Ali was undergoing was the will of God.[g]
In a 2008 interview, Frazier stated he had forgiven Ali, but was unable to comment on whether Ali's present condition was due to divine punishment, as he had earlier stated, since "God works in a mysterious way."
In 2011, on the eve of the 40th anniversary of his first fight with Ali, and the year of his death, Frazier reiterated that he had forgiven Ali.[h] Frazier's funeral service was attended by Ali who reportedly stood and clapped vigorously when the Rev. Jesse Jackson asked the mourners to stand and bring their hands together one last time for Frazier.
Muhammad Ali defeated every top heavyweight in his era, which has been called the golden age of heavyweight boxing. Ali was named "Fighter of the Year" by The Ring magazine more times than any other fighter, and was involved in more Ring "Fight of the Year" bouts than any other fighter. He was an inductee into the International Boxing Hall of Fame and held wins over seven other Hall of Fame inductees. He was one of only three boxers to be named "Sportsman of the Year" by Sports Illustrated.
In 1978, three years before Ali's permanent retirement, the Louisville Board of Aldermen in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, voted 6–5 to rename Walnut Street to Muhammad Ali Boulevard. This was controversial at the time, as within a week 12 of the 70 street signs were stolen. Earlier that year, a committee of the Jefferson County Public Schools (Kentucky) considered renaming Ali's alma mater, Central High School, in his honor, but the motion failed to pass. In time, Muhammad Ali Boulevard—and Ali himself—came to be well accepted in his hometown.
In 1993, the Associated Press reported that Ali was tied with Babe Ruth as the most recognized athlete, out of over 800 dead or living athletes, in America. The study found that over 97% of Americans over 12 years of age identified both Ali and Ruth. He was the recipient of the 1997 Arthur Ashe Courage Award.
In 1999, Time magazine named Ali one of the 100 Most Important People of the 20th Century. He was crowned Sportsman of the Century by Sports Illustrated. Named Sports Personality of the Century in a BBC poll, he received more votes than the other contenders (which included Pelé, Jesse Owens and Jack Nicklaus) combined. On September 13, 1999, Ali was named "Kentucky Athlete of the Century" by the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame in ceremonies at the Galt House East.
On January 8, 2001, Muhammad Ali was presented with the Presidential Citizens Medal by President Bill Clinton. In November 2005, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush, followed by the Otto Hahn Peace Medal in Gold of the UN Association of Germany (DGVN) in Berlin for his work with the U.S. civil rights movement and the United Nations (December 17, 2005).
On November 19, 2005 (Ali's 19th wedding anniversary), the $60 million non-profit Muhammad Ali Center opened in downtown Louisville. In addition to displaying his boxing memorabilia, the center focuses on core themes of peace, social responsibility, respect, and personal growth. On June 5, 2007, he received an honorary doctorate of humanities at Princeton University's 260th graduation ceremony.
Ali Mall, located in Araneta Center, Quezon City, Philippines, is named after him. Construction of the mall, the first of its kind in the Philippines, began shortly after Ali's victory in a match with Joe Frazier in nearby Araneta Coliseum in 1975. The mall opened in 1976 with Ali attending its opening.
The 1976 Muhammad Ali vs. Antonio Inoki fight played a role in the history of mixed martial arts, particularly in Japan. The match inspired Inoki's students Masakatsu Funaki and Minoru Suzuki to found Pancrase in 1993, which in turn inspired the foundation of Pride Fighting Championships in 1997. Pride was later acquired by its rival Ultimate Fighting Championship in 2007.
The Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act was introduced in 1999 and passed in 2000, to protect the rights and welfare of boxers in the United States. In May 2016, a bill was introduced to United States Congress by Markwayne Mullin, a politician and former MMA fighter, to extend the Ali Act to mixed martial arts. In June 2016, US senator Rand Paul proposed an amendment to the US draft laws named after Ali, a proposal to eliminate the Selective Service System.
Ranking in boxing history
Ali is regarded as one of the greatest boxers of all time by boxing commentators and historians. Ring Magazine, a prominent boxing magazine, named him number 1 in a 1998 ranking of greatest heavyweights from all eras. The Associated Press voted Ali the No. 1 heavyweight of the 20th century in 1999. In December 2007, ESPN listed Ali second in its choice of the greatest heavyweights of all time, behind Joe Louis. Ali was named the second greatest pound for pound fighter in boxing history by ESPN, behind only welterweight and middleweight great Sugar Ray Robinson.
Spoken word poetry and music
Ali often used rhyme schemes and spoken word poetry, both for when he was trash talking in boxing and as political poetry for his activism outside of boxing. He played a role in the shaping of the black poetic tradition, paving the way for The Last Poets in 1968, Gil Scott-Heron in 1970, and the emergence of rap music in the 1970s.
In 1963, Ali released an album of spoken word music on Columbia Records titled I Am the Greatest, and in 1964, he recorded a cover version of the rhythm and blues song "Stand by Me". I Am the Greatest reached number 61 on the album chart and was nominated for a Grammy Award. He later received a second Grammy nomination, for "Best Recording for Children", with his 1976 spoken word novelty record, The Adventures of Ali and His Gang vs. Mr. Tooth Decay.
Ali was an influential figure in the world of hip hop music. As a "rhyming trickster", he was noted for his "funky delivery", "boasts", "comical trash talk", and "endless quotables". According to Rolling Stone, his "freestyle skills" and his "rhymes, flow, and braggadocio" would "one day become typical of old school MCs" like Run–D.M.C. and LL Cool J, and his "outsized ego foreshadowed the vainglorious excesses of Kanye West, while his Afrocentric consciousness and cutting honesty pointed forward to modern bards like Rakim, Nas, Jay-Z, and Kendrick Lamar." Ali has been cited as an inspiration by rappers such as LL Cool J, Public Enemy's Chuck D, Jay-Z, Eminem, Sean Combs, Slick Rick, Nas and MC Lyte. Ali has been referenced in a number of hip hop songs, including The Sugarhill Gang's "Rapper's Delight", the Fugees' "Ready or Not", EPMD's "You're a Customer" and Will Smith's "Gettin' Jiggy wit It".
In the media and popular culture
As a world champion boxer, social activist, and pop cuture icon, Ali was the subject of numerous books, films, music, video games, TV shows, and other creative works.
Ali appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated on 37 different occasions, second only to Michael Jordan.[needs update?] He also appeared on the cover of Time Magazine 5 times, the most of any athlete.
Ali had a cameo role in the 1962 film version of Requiem for a Heavyweight, and during his exile, he starred in the short-lived Broadway musical, Buck White (1969).
Ali appeared in the documentary film Black Rodeo (1972) riding both a horse and a bull. His autobiography The Greatest: My Own Story, written with Richard Durham, was published in 1975. In 1977 the book was adapted into a film called The Greatest, in which Ali played himself and Ernest Borgnine played Angelo Dundee.
The film Freedom Road, made in 1978, features Muhammad Ali in a rare acting role as Gideon Jackson, a former slave and Union (American Civil War) soldier in 1870s Virginia, who gets elected to the U.S. Senate and battles other former slaves and white sharecroppers to keep the land they have tended all their lives.
On the set of Freedom Road Ali met Canadian singer-songwriter Michel (also known as Robert Williams, a co-founder of The Kindness Offensive), and subsequently helped create Michel's album entitled The First Flight of the Gizzelda Dragon and an unaired television special featuring them both.
Ali was the subject of This Is Your Life (UK TV series) in 1978 when he was surprised by Eamonn Andrews. Ali was featured in Superman vs. Muhammad Ali, a 1978 DC Comics comic book pitting the champ against the superhero. In 1979, Ali guest-starred as himself in an episode of the NBC sitcom Diff'rent Strokes.
He also wrote several best-selling books about his career, including The Greatest: My Own Story and The Soul of a Butterfly. The Muhammad Ali Effect, named after Ali, is a term that came into use in psychology in the 1980s, as he stated in his autobiography The Greatest: My Own Story: "I only said I was the greatest, not the smartest." According to this effect, when people are asked to rate their intelligence and moral behavior in comparison to others, people will rate themselves as more moral, but not more intelligent than others.
When We Were Kings, a 1996 documentary about the Rumble in the Jungle, won an Academy Award, and the 2001 biopic Ali garnered an Oscar nomination for Will Smith's portrayal of the lead role. The latter film was directed by Michael Mann, with mixed reviews, the positives given to Smith's portrayal of Ali. Prior to making the film, Smith rejected the role until Ali requested that he accept it. Smith said the first thing Ali told him was: "Man you're almost pretty enough to play me."
In 2002, for his contributions to the entertainment industry, Ali was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6801 Hollywood Boulevard. His star is the only one to be mounted on a vertical surface, out of deference to his request that his name not be walked upon.
The Trials of Muhammad Ali, a documentary directed by Bill Siegel that focuses on Ali's refusal of the draft during the Vietnam War, opened in Manhattan on August 23, 2013. A made-for-TV movie called Muhammad Ali's Greatest Fight, also in 2013, dramatized the same aspect of Ali's life.
Professional boxing record
|Professional record summary|
|61 fights||56 wins||5 losses|
|61||Loss||56–5||Trevor Berbick||UD||10||Dec 11, 1981||39 years, 328 days||Queen Elizabeth Sports Centre, Nassau, Bahamas|
|60||Loss||56–4||Larry Holmes||RTD||10 (15), 3:00||Oct 2, 1980||38 years, 259 days||Caesars Palace, Paradise, Nevada, U.S.||For WBC, vacant The Ring and lineal heavyweight titles|
|59||Win||56–3||Leon Spinks||UD||15||Sep 15, 1978||36 years, 241 days||Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.||Won WBA, The Ring, and lineal heavyweight titles|
|58||Loss||55–3||Leon Spinks||SD||15||Feb 15, 1978||36 years, 29 days||Las Vegas Hilton, Winchester, Nevada, U.S.||Lost WBA, WBC, The Ring, and lineal heavyweight titles|
|57||Win||55–2||Earnie Shavers||UD||15||Sep 29, 1977||35 years, 255 days||Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.||Retained WBA, WBC, The Ring, and lineal heavyweight titles|
|56||Win||54–2||Alfredo Evangelista||UD||15||May 16, 1977||35 years, 119 days||Capital Centre, Landover, Maryland, U.S.||Retained WBA, WBC, The Ring, and lineal heavyweight titles|
|55||Win||53–2||Ken Norton||UD||15||Sep 28, 1976||34 years, 255 days||Yankee Stadium, New York City, New York, U.S.||Retained WBA, WBC, The Ring, and lineal heavyweight titles|
|54||Win||52–2||Richard Dunn||TKO||5 (15), 2:05||May 24, 1976||34 years, 128 days||Olympiahalle, Munich, West Germany||Retained WBA, WBC, The Ring, and lineal heavyweight titles|
|53||Win||51–2||Jimmy Young||UD||15||Apr 30, 1976||34 years, 104 days||Capital Centre, Landover, Maryland, U.S.||Retained WBA, WBC, The Ring, and lineal heavyweight titles|
|52||Win||50–2||Jean-Pierre Coopman||KO||5 (15), 2:46||Feb 20, 1976||34 years, 34 days||Roberto Clemente Coliseum, San Juan, Puerto Rico||Retained WBA, WBC, The Ring, and lineal heavyweight titles|
|51||Win||49–2||Joe Frazier||TKO||14 (15), 3:00||Oct 1, 1975||33 years, 257 days||Philippine Coliseum, Quezon City, Philippines||Retained WBA, WBC, The Ring, and lineal heavyweight titles;
RTD according to some contemporary sources
|50||Win||48–2||Joe Bugner||UD||15||Jun 30, 1975||33 years, 164 days||Stadium Merdeka, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia||Retained WBA, WBC, The Ring, and lineal heavyweight titles|
|49||Win||47–2||Ron Lyle||TKO||11 (15), 1:08||May 16, 1975||33 years, 119 days||Las Vegas Convention Center, Winchester, Nevada, U.S.||Retained WBA, WBC, The Ring, and lineal heavyweight titles|
|48||Win||46–2||Chuck Wepner||TKO||15 (15), 2:41||Mar 24, 1975||33 years, 66 days||Coliseum, Richfield, Ohio, U.S.||Retained WBA, WBC, The Ring, and lineal heavyweight titles|
|47||Win||45–2||George Foreman||KO||8 (15), 2:58||Oct 30, 1974||32 years, 286 days||Stade du 20 Mai, Kinshasa, Zaire||Won WBA, WBC, The Ring, and lineal heavyweight titles|
|46||Win||44–2||Joe Frazier||UD||12||Jan 28, 1974||32 years, 11 days||Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.||Retained NABF heavyweight title|
|45||Win||43–2||Rudie Lubbers||UD||12||Oct 20, 1973||31 years, 276 days||Gelora Bung Karno Stadium, Jakarta, Indonesia|
|44||Win||42–2||Ken Norton||SD||12||Sep 10, 1973||31 years, 236 days||The Forum, Inglewood, California, U.S.||Won NABF heavyweight title|
|43||Loss||41–2||Ken Norton||SD||12||Mar 31, 1973||31 years, 73 days||Sports Arena, San Diego, California, U.S.||Lost NABF heavyweight title|
|42||Win||41–1||Joe Bugner||UD||12||Feb 14, 1973||31 years, 28 days||Las Vegas Convention Center, Winchester, Nevada, U.S.|
|41||Win||40–1||Bob Foster||KO||8 (12), 0:40||Nov 21, 1972||30 years, 309 days||Sahara Tahoe, Stateline, Nevada, U.S.||Retained NABF heavyweight title|
|40||Win||39–1||Floyd Patterson||RTD||7 (12), 3:00||Sep 20, 1972||30 years, 247 days||Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.||Retained NABF heavyweight title|
|39||Win||38–1||Alvin Lewis||TKO||11 (12), 1:15||Jul 19, 1972||30 years, 184 days||Croke Park, Dublin, Ireland|
|38||Win||37–1||Jerry Quarry||TKO||7 (12), 0:19||Jun 27, 1972||30 years, 162 days||Las Vegas Convention Center, Winchester, Nevada, U.S.||Retained NABF heavyweight title|
|37||Win||36–1||George Chuvalo||UD||12||May 1, 1972||30 years, 105 days||Pacific Coliseum, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada||Retained NABF heavyweight title|
|36||Win||35–1||Mac Foster||UD||15||Apr 1, 1972||30 years, 75 days||Nippon Budokan, Tokyo, Japan|
|35||Win||34–1||Jürgen Blin||KO||7 (12), 2:12||Dec 26, 1971||29 years, 343 days||Hallenstadion, Zürich, Switzerland|
|34||Win||33–1||Buster Mathis||UD||12||Nov 17, 1971||29 years, 304 days||Astrodome, Houston, Texas, U.S.||Retained NABF heavyweight title|
|33||Win||32–1||Jimmy Ellis||TKO||12 (12), 2:10||Jul 26, 1971||29 years, 190 days||Astrodome, Houston, Texas, U.S.||Won vacant NABF heavyweight title|
|32||Loss||31–1||Joe Frazier||UD||15||Mar 8, 1971||29 years, 50 days||Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.||For WBA, WBC, lineal, and vacant The Ring heavyweight titles|
|31||Win||31–0||Oscar Bonavena||TKO||15 (15), 2:03||Dec 7, 1970||28 years, 324 days||Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.||Retained The Ring and lineal heavyweight titles|
|30||Win||30–0||Jerry Quarry||RTD||3 (15), 3:00||Oct 26, 1970||28 years, 282 days||Municipal Auditorium, Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.||Retained The Ring and lineal heavyweight titles|
|29||Win||29–0||Zora Folley||KO||7 (15), 1:48||Mar 22, 1967||25 years, 64 days||Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.||Retained WBA, WBC, The Ring, and lineal heavyweight titles|
|28||Win||28–0||Ernie Terrell||UD||15||Feb 6, 1967||25 years, 20 days||Astrodome, Houston, Texas, U.S.||Retained WBC, The Ring, and lineal heavyweight titles;
Won WBA heavyweight title
|27||Win||27–0||Cleveland Williams||TKO||3 (15), 1:08||Nov 14, 1966||24 years, 301 days||Astrodome, Houston, Texas, U.S.||Retained WBC, The Ring, and lineal heavyweight titles|
|26||Win||26–0||Karl Mildenberger||TKO||12 (15), 1:30||Sep 10, 1966||24 years, 236 days||Waldstadion, Frankfurt, West Germany||Retained WBC, The Ring, and lineal heavyweight titles|
|25||Win||25–0||Brian London||KO||3 (15), 1:40||Aug 6, 1966||24 years, 201 days||Earls Court Exhibition Centre, London, England||Retained WBC, The Ring, and lineal heavyweight titles|
|24||Win||24–0||Henry Cooper||TKO||6 (15), 1:38||May 21, 1966||24 years, 124 days||Arsenal Stadium, London, England||Retained WBC, The Ring, and lineal heavyweight titles|
|23||Win||23–0||George Chuvalo||UD||15||Mar 29, 1966||24 years, 71 days||Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario, Canada||Retained WBC, The Ring, and lineal heavyweight titles|
|22||Win||22–0||Floyd Patterson||TKO||12 (15), 2:18||Nov 22, 1965||23 years, 309 days||Las Vegas Convention Center, Winchester, Nevada, U.S.||Retained WBC, The Ring, and lineal heavyweight titles|
|21||Win||21–0||Sonny Liston||KO||1 (15), 2:12||May 25, 1965||23 years, 128 days||Civic Center, Lewiston, Maine, U.S.||Retained WBC, The Ring, and lineal heavyweight titles|
|20||Win||20–0||Sonny Liston||RTD||7 (15), 3:00||Feb 25, 1964||22 years, 39 days||Convention Center, Miami Beach, Florida, U.S.||Won WBC, The Ring, and lineal heavyweight titles|
|19||Win||19–0||Henry Cooper||TKO||5 (10), 2:15||Jun 18, 1963||21 years, 152 days||Wembley Stadium, London, England|
|18||Win||18–0||Doug Jones||UD||10||Mar 13, 1963||21 years, 55 days||Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.|
|17||Win||17–0||Charlie Powell||KO||3 (10), 2:04||Jan 24, 1963||21 years, 7 days||Civic Arena, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.|
|16||Win||16–0||Archie Moore||TKO||4 (10), 1:35||Nov 15, 1962||20 years, 302 days||Memorial Sports Arena, Los Angeles, California, U.S.|
|15||Win||15–0||Alejandro Lavorante||KO||5 (10), 1:48||Jul 20, 1962||20 years, 184 days||Memorial Sports Arena, Los Angeles, California, U.S.|
|14||Win||14–0||Billy Daniels||TKO||7 (10), 2:21||May 19, 1962||20 years, 122 days||St. Nicholas Arena, New York City, New York, U.S.|
|13||Win||13–0||George Logan||TKO||4 (10), 1:34||Apr 23, 1962||20 years, 96 days||Memorial Sports Arena, Los Angeles, California, U.S.|
|12||Win||12–0||Don Warner||TKO||4 (10), 0:34||Feb 28, 1962||20 years, 70 days||Convention Center, Miami Beach, Florida, U.S.|
|11||Win||11–0||Sonny Banks||TKO||4 (10), 0:26||Feb 10, 1962||20 years, 24 days||Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.|
|10||Win||10–0||Willi Besmanoff||TKO||7 (10), 1:55||Nov 29, 1961||19 years, 316 days||Freedom Hall, Louisville, Kentucky, U.S.|
|9||Win||9–0||Alex Miteff||TKO||6 (10), 1:45||Oct 7, 1961||19 years, 263 days||Freedom Hall, Louisville, Kentucky, U.S.|
|8||Win||8–0||Alonzo Johnson||UD||10||Jul 22, 1961||19 years, 186 days||Freedom Hall, Louisville, Kentucky, U.S.|
|7||Win||7–0||Duke Sabedong||UD||10||Jun 26, 1961||19 years, 160 days||Las Vegas Convention Center, Winchester, Nevada, U.S.|
|6||Win||6–0||Lamar Clark||KO||2 (8), 1:27||Apr 19, 1961||19 years, 92 days||Freedom Hall, Louisville, Kentucky, U.S.|
|5||Win||5–0||Donnie Fleeman||RTD||6 (8)||Feb 21, 1961||19 years, 35 days||Municipal Auditorium, Miami Beach, Florida, U.S.|
|4||Win||4–0||Jim Robinson||KO||1 (8), 1:34||Feb 7, 1961||19 years, 21 days||Convention Center, Miami Beach, Florida, U.S.|
|3||Win||3–0||Tony Esperti||TKO||3 (8), 1:30||Jan 17, 1961||19 years, 0 days||Municipal Auditorium, Miami Beach, Florida, U.S.|
|2||Win||2–0||Herb Siler||TKO||4 (8), 1:00||Dec 27, 1960||18 years, 345 days||Municipal Auditorium, Miami Beach, Florida, U.S.|
|1||Win||1–0||Tunney Hunsaker||UD||6||Oct 29, 1960||18 years, 286 days||Freedom Hall, Louisville, Kentucky, U.S.||Professional debut|
- List of lineal boxing world champions
- List of heavyweight boxing champions
- List of WBA world champions
- List of WBC world champions
- List of The Ring world champions
- List of undisputed boxing champions
- Conscientious objector
- Notable boxing families
- List of people from the Louisville metropolitan area
- List of North American Muslims
- Ali's religious affiliation at death. See article for progression of Ali's religious beliefs and affiliations.
[Frazier] was harder for me than Liston or Foreman, because he had what I was vulnerable to−a good in-close left hook. Foreman wasn't an infighter or a hooker. He was an uppercutter with a right hand and a jab, always looking you in the eye. Liston was scarier than Frazier, but I fought Liston when I was young. Joe stayed on me, always on my chest, and from out of nowhere he'd throw the hook. If I was young, I'd have danced for fifteen rounds, and Joe wouldn't have ever caught me. But the first time we fought, I was three-and-half years out of shape.— Muhammad Ali
- According to Dave Wolf, the reason for Frazier's hospitalization was hypertension from which he had been suffering before the fight.
- Larry Holmes commented that instead of letting Ali's words upset him, Frazier's response to Ali calling him ignorant should have been: 'Yeah, okay, I might be ignorant, but this ignorant man is going to kick your ass.'
Ali asked for me to come to his dressing room before any of the press arrived. I went in there and Ali was real tired and he hugged me and apologized for what he'd said about my father before the fight. He said, 'Tell your father he's a great man'.— Marvis Frazier
- In the 1996 press conference, Frazier stated that "[Ali] didn't like his white brothers."  Prior to their first fight, Frazier had questioned Ali's commitment to blacks, given "a lot of guys around him are white."
- In his book, Brunt notes Frazier's struggle of revealing his genuine beliefs about Ali, and being savvy, because by now he had people looking after his commercial interests, and "somebody probably had a talk with him about image and public relations and how they relate to earning potential...Still, even the new, polished, packaged Frazier has his moments."
- In a column in the Hartford Courant, published the day after Frazier's death, Jeff Jacobs wrote: "I hope Smokin' Joe did [forgave Ali]. I hope he let every inch of hate go. The Greatest and The Greatest Opponent deserve to join gloves and walk together into immortality.
- "Muhammad Ali: The greatest monument to the great one". MediaWorks TV. March 31, 2011. Retrieved June 4, 2016.
- "Muhammad Ali Biography". thefamouspeople.com. Retrieved June 4, 2016.
- "Muhammad Ali refuses Army induction – Apr 28, 1967". HISTORY.com. Retrieved June 4, 2016.
- Office of the Press Secretary (November 9, 2005). "Citations for Recipients of the 2005 Presidential Medal of Freedom". Washington D.C., U.S.: The White House, George W. Bush. Retrieved June 6, 2016.
- "Muhammad Ali". ibhof.com. Retrieved June 6, 2016.
- Bulman, May (June 4, 2016). "Why Muhammad Ali's star is on the wall, not the Walk of Fame". The Independent. Retrieved June 6, 2016.
- Professional boxing record for Muhammad Ali from BoxRec. Retrieved June 5, 2016.
- "Ali". Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary.
- "Why Muhammad Ali never legally changed name from Cassius Clay". Retrieved July 12, 2016.
- "Muhammad Ali – Biography of Muhammad Ali – Page 2". History1900s.about.com. Retrieved September 5, 2011.
- Cagle, Jess (December 17, 2001). "Ali: Lord of the Ring". Time. Retrieved September 5, 2011.
- Hauser, Thomas. "The Importance of Muhammad Ali". Gilder Lehrman Institute.
- "The religion and politics of Muhammad Ali". Hollowverse. MK Safi. Retrieved June 4, 2016.
- Roberts, Randy (1991). Winning is the Only Thing: Sports in America Since 1945. Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 171–172.
- Hallett, Alison. "Not So Fast". Portland Mercury. Retrieved December 27, 2013.
- Rhoden, William C. (June 20, 2013). "In Ali's Voice From the Past, a Stand for the Ages". The New York Times.
- "Muhammad Ali". ESPN. January 20, 2012. Retrieved January 29, 2012.
- "Muhammad Ali – press conference 1974". YouTube. September 26, 2012. Retrieved November 5, 2013.
- "Muhammad Ali – Pre Liston Poetry & Highlights". YouTube. February 12, 2011. Retrieved November 5, 2013.
- "Muhammad Ali Famous Interview After Defeating Foreman". YouTube. January 6, 2010. Retrieved November 5, 2013.
- Gates, Henry Louis Jr. (June 9, 2016). "Muhammad Ali, the Political Poet". The New York Times. Retrieved September 4, 2016.
- Reeves, Mosi (June 4, 2016). "Muhammad Ali: World's Greatest Boxer Was Also Hip-Hop Pioneer". Rolling Stone. Retrieved September 4, 2016.
- Rubin, Mike (June 5, 2016). "Muhammad Ali: 4 Ways He Changed America". Rolling Stone. Retrieved September 4, 2016.
- Johnson, Rafer (February 1, 2002). Great Athletes. 1 (revised ed.). Salem Press. pp. 38–41. ISBN 978-1-58765-008-6.
- "Barber Can Relax Hair". Philadelphia Inquirer. October 15, 1997. Retrieved September 4, 2009.
- "Cassius Marcellus Clay Sr., Former Champion's Father, 77". The New York Times. Associated Press. February 10, 1990. Retrieved September 4, 2009.
- Egerton, John (September 1, 1991). Shades of Gray: Dispatches from the Modern South. LSU Press. p. 134. ISBN 0807117056. Retrieved June 24, 2016.
- "Muhammad Ali: Boxer's ancestral Irish town pays tribute after death". BBC. June 4, 2016. Retrieved June 4, 2016.
- "Ali has Irish ancestry". BBC News. February 9, 2002. Retrieved August 5, 2009.
- Rietwiesner, Williams Adams. "Ancestry of Muhammad Ali".
- Hauser 2004, p. 14
- Hampton, Henry, Fayer, S. (1990). Voices of Freedom: An Oral History of the Civil Rights Movement from the 1950s through the 1980s, p. 321. Bantam Books. ISBN 978-0-553-05734-8.
- Gorn, Elliott (1998). Muhammad Ali: The People's Champ, p. 76–77, University of Illinois Press. ISBN 978-0-252-06721-1.
- Kandel, Elmo (April 1, 2006). "Boxing Legend – Muhammad Ali". Article Click. Elmo Kandel. Archived from the original on June 11, 2008. Retrieved March 9, 2009.
- "Muhammad Ali". University of Florida. Retrieved May 20, 2008.
- "GODFATHER" OF CUTMEN-CHUCK BODAK SUFFERS STROKE Archived April 14, 2015, at the Wayback Machine. September 2, 2007 by Pedro Fernandez, ringtalk.com
- Gray, Geoffey (June 4, 2016). "How Muhammad Ali Became a Boxer – Daily Intelligencer". New York. Retrieved June 26, 2016.
- Ward, Nathan (October 2006). "A Total Eclipse of the Sonny". American Heritage. Archived from the original on January 11, 2007.
- Hauser 2004
- Calkins, Matt (November 17, 2014). "Archie Moore was the KO king". U-T San Diego. Retrieved June 15, 2016.
- Krantz, Les (January 1, 2008). Ali in Action: The Man, the Moves, the Mouth. Globe Pequot. Retrieved June 15, 2016 – via Google Books.
- Velin, Bob (June 4, 2016). "Fight by fight: Muhammad Ali's legendary career". USA Today. Retrieved June 15, 2016.
- Bob Mee, Ali and Liston: The Boy Who Would Be King and the Ugly Bear, 2011.
- "Boxing legend Muhammad Ali, 74, hospitalized with respiratory issue – but spokesman says he's 'in fair condition'". Daily Mail. June 2, 2016. Retrieved June 3, 2016.
- Capouya, John (December 12, 2005). "King Strut". Sports Illustrated. Archived from the original on June 3, 2011. Retrieved August 30, 2016.
- Burkholder, Denny (June 6, 2016). "How Muhammad Ali's fascination with pro wrestling fueled his career, inspired MMA". CBS Sports. Retrieved October 2, 2016.
- Irusta, Carlos (January 17, 2012). "Dundee: Ali was, still is 'The Greatest'". ESPN. Retrieved January 17, 2012.
- Haygood, Wil (April 1, 2011). Sweet Thunder: The Life and Times of Sugar Ray Robinson. Chicago Review Press. p. 378. Retrieved June 24, 2016.
- Remnick (1998), p. 147
- Lipsyte, Robert (February 26, 1964). "Clay Wins Title in Seventh-Round Upset As Liston Is Halted by Shoulder Injury". The New York Times. Retrieved December 27, 2008.
- Sugar, Bert Randolph (November 1, 2003). Bert Sugar on Boxing: The Best of the Sport's Most Notable Writer. Globe Pequot. p. 196. ISBN 978-1-59228-048-3.
- In an interview in 1974, Ali said that, prior to his later fight with Foreman, a one-time member of Liston's entourage offered him a linament that could be applied to boxing gloves and that would cause a blinding, temporary stinging of the eyes. Video on YouTube
- Pranksters: Making Mischief in the Modern World by Kembrew McLeod, pp. 223–4
- Grody, Ray (November 14, 1964). "Clay victim of hernia, bout off". Milwaukee Sentinel. p. 2-part 2.
- Anderson, Dave (January 16, 1992). "Sports of The Times; On His 50th, Ali Is Still 'The Greatest'". The New York Times. Retrieved January 25, 2012.
- Vachss, Andrew (2003). Only Child. Vintage. p. 89. Vachss further explains the way such a fix would have been engineered in Two Trains Running. Pantheon. 2005. pp. 160–165, 233.
- Belth, Alex (August 27, 2012). "ALI-PATTERSON: THE REAL STORY". Sports on Earth. Retrieved June 3, 2016.
- Shalit, Nevin I. (July 15, 1980). "Muhammad Ali: Losing the Real Title". The Harvard Crimson. Retrieved August 19, 2015.
- Dundee, Angelo; Maule, Tex (August 28, 1967). "He Could Go To Jail And Still Be Champ". Sports Illustrated.
- Maule, Tex (February 13, 1967). "Cruel Ali With All The Skills". Sports Illustrated. Archived from the original on March 9, 2013.
- "Ali vs. Marciano: Who wins?". The Enterprise. September 1, 2009. Retrieved July 19, 2016.
- "The forgotten story of … the Rocky Marciano v Muhammad Ali Super Fight". The Guardian. November 13, 2012.
- Bingham, Howard; Wallace, Max (2000). Muhammad Ali's Greatest Fight: Cassius Clay vs. the United States of America. M. Evans. p. 218.
- Britton, John H. (March 4, 1971). "Ga. Senator Gets TKOed By His Political 'Friends'". Jet. pp. 52–54.
- "Clay granted New York ring license". The Palm Beach Post. Associated Press. September 15, 1970. p. B4. (subscription required (. ))
- O'Reilly, Terry (March 3, 2016). "Achilles Heel Advertising: Repositioning the Competition". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved March 27, 2016.
- "Muhammad Ali- The Rumble In The Jungle(Interview)". YouTube. March 22, 1967. Retrieved September 3, 2013.
- "Muhammad Ali Inspirational Speech (Cassius Clay Boxing Motivation)". YouTube. September 14, 2012. Retrieved September 3, 2013.
- Foreman, George (January 2012). "George Foreman on why Muhammad Ali was so much more than a 'boxer'". ShortList. Retrieved June 6, 2016.
- "Muhammad Ali Boxing a Monsoon – Boxing Hall of Fame". boxinghalloffame.com. December 29, 2012. Retrieved June 9, 2016.
- Tallent, Aaron. "The Joke That Almost Ended Ali's Career". The Sweet Science. Retrieved December 4, 2007.
- "Ali's Least Memorable Fight", by Victor Mather, The New York Times
- Burkholder, Denny (June 6, 2016). "How Muhammad Ali's fascination with pro wrestling fueled his career, inspired MMA". CBS Sports. Retrieved June 11, 2016.
- "Champion Ali Quits Boxing". The Paris News. October 1, 1976. p. 12. Retrieved October 19, 2011.
- Muhammad Ali, The Glory Years, Felix Dennis and Don Atyeo, p. 258.
- "Muhammad Ali Fast Facts". CNN. Retrieved February 20, 2013.
- Koch, Ed. "Timeline: Fifty years of Las Vegas memories for Muhammad Ali". Las Vegas Sun. Retrieved November 12, 2013.
- Hale, Mike (October 26, 2009). "Boxing King Casts His Shadow, Even at Time of Defeat". The New York Times. Retrieved March 5, 2012.
- "Ali to try again?". The Daytona Beach Sunday News-Journal. Google News Archive. Associated Press. August 16, 1981. Retrieved June 4, 2016.
- "It's all over for Ali after loss". Lawrence Journal-World. Google News Archive. Associated Press. December 12, 1981. Retrieved June 4, 2016.
- Nack, William (December 21, 1981). "Not with a bang but a whisper". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved June 4, 2016.
- Micklos, John Jr. (2010). Muhammad Ali: "I Am the Greatest". Berkeley Heights, NJ: Enslow Publishers. p. 54. ISBN 978-0-7660-3381-8.
- Hauser, Thomas (2012). Muhammad Ali: His Life and Times. Open Road Integrated Media. p. 252. ISBN 978-1-4532-4119-6.
- Hauser, Thomas (2012). Muhammad Ali: His Life and Times. Open Road Integrated Media. p. 288. ISBN 978-1-4532-4119-6.
- "Winstead, Fry, Clay, Greathouse, and Alexander Family Tree:Information about Muhammad Ali". Familytreemaker.genealogy.com. Retrieved August 5, 2009.
- "Muhammad Ali's Daughter, Maryum "May May" Ali, Writes Children's Book About His Boxing Career". Jet. Vol. 104 no. 24. December 8, 2003. p. 38 – via Google Books.
- "Ali's camp now a bed and breakfast". ESPN. Retrieved January 29, 2012.
- "ALI DAUGHTER TOSSES BOOK IN RING". New York Daily News. March 18, 2001.
- "Former three-time heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali agreed Tuesday...". UPI. January 28, 1986.
- "Muhammed Ali Biography". Lifetime. May 23, 2006. Retrieved May 1, 2015.
- "More Ali children will come out of the woodwork like cockroaches: Boxer's second wife warns of claims to his £55million fortune by illegitimate offspring". Daily Mail. June 11, 2016.
- "Muhammad Ali's ex-wife reveals details about their secret wedding". USA Today. June 6, 2016.
- "Muhammad Ali confesses illness put a stop to his 'girl chasing,' but his son is just starting". Findarticles.com. 1997. Retrieved August 5, 2009.
- Miller, Davis (September 12, 1993). "Still Larger Than Life – To Millions, Muhammad Ali Will Always Be The Champ". The Seattle Times. Retrieved August 5, 2009.
- Laufenberg, Norbert B. (2005). Entertainment Celebrities. Trafford Publishing. p. 9. ISBN 978-1-4120-5335-8. Retrieved December 5, 2010.
- Bollinger, Rhett. "Angels draft boxing legend Ali's son". Major League Baseball. Retrieved June 5, 2016.
- Bucktin, Christopher (September 13, 2014). "Muhammad Ali's secret daughter begs to see boxing legend one more time 'before he dies'". Daily Mirror. Retrieved June 6, 2016.
- Ofori-Mensah (June 5, 2016). "6 Facts About Kiiursti Mensah Ali, Muhammed Ali's Ghanaian Daughter You Need To Know". omgvoice.com. Retrieved June 6, 2016.
- Foster, Peter; Allen, Nick (June 4, 2016). "Muhammad Ali's tangled love life leaves troubled legacy". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved June 6, 2016.
- "Ali's alleged lovechild talks to tabloids". The Daily Express. February 11, 2010. Retrieved October 15, 2016.
- "TEMICA WILLIAMS a/k/a Rebecca Jean Holloway, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. MUHAMMAD ALI, Defendant-Appellee.". All Court Data. Retrieved October 15, 2016.
- "Brother: Muhammad Ali's health failing". United Press International. Archived from the original on August 13, 2014. Retrieved September 4, 2014.
- Shafer, Sheldon S. (January 25, 2007). "Ali coming home, buys house in Jefferson County" (PDF). The Courier-Journal. Archived (PDF) from the original on November 16, 2009. Retrieved January 25, 2007.
- Patricia Sheridan (December 3, 2007) "Patricia Sheridan's Breakfast With ... Lonnie Ali", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved July 28, 2009.
- "Laila Ali". Womenboxing.com. Retrieved January 29, 2012.
- "Boxing- Muhammad Ali". Womenboxing.com. June 8, 2001. Retrieved January 29, 2012.
- Cepeda, Elias (June 4, 2016). "Kevin Casey will fight at UFC 199 despite passing of father-in-law Muhammad Ali". Fox Sports. Retrieved June 6, 2016.
- Mitchell, Kevin (June 4, 2016). "From the Vietnam war to Islam – the key chapters in Ali's life". The Guardian. Retrieved June 5, 2016.
- Steinberg, Neil (June 4, 2016). "For a time, Ali called Chicago home". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved June 5, 2016.
- "History website, Muhammad Ali: "Cassius Clay is my slave name"". BBC. Retrieved July 2, 2013.
- "'I am America': Muhammad Ali's fight for civil rights". 9News, Australia. Agence France-Presse. June 5, 2016. Retrieved June 4, 2016.
- Cashill, Jack (February 9, 2006). "Why Ali Betrayed Malcolm X". WorldNetDaily. Retrieved September 4, 2016.
- Handler, M. S. (March 9, 1964). "Malcolm X Splits with Muhammad". The New York Times. Retrieved August 1, 2008. (subscription required)
- Ali, Muhammad; Ali, Hana Yasmeen (November 16, 2004). The Soul of a Butterfly: Reflections on Life's Journey. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-7432-6286-7. Retrieved September 4, 2016.
- Garcia, Courtney (September 6, 2013). "'Trials of Muhammad Ali' highlights boxer's anti-war opposition". theGrio. Retrieved November 5, 2013.
- Metz, Nina (August 31, 2013). "The trials of a Chicago director making Muhammad Ali doc". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved July 31, 2016.
- Mogul, Priyanka (June 4, 2016). "Muhammad Ali: Why the boxing legend converted to Islam and refused to serve in the Vietnam War". International Business Times. Retrieved August 30, 2016.
- Bercaw, Nancy; Ownby, Ted (eds.). The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture: Volume 13: Gender. p. 291.
- Ali, Muhammad; Ali, Hana Yasmeen (2013). The Soul of a Butterfly. Simon & Schuster. p. 85.
- "Muhammed Ali's Pilgrimage to Makkah". Emel (17). February 2006. Retrieved September 4, 2016.
- Bryan, Chloe (June 4, 2016). "Muhammad Ali had a thought-provoking response when asked about his retirement plans". Mashable. Retrieved September 4, 2016.
- Rajeev, K R (June 5, 2016). "Muhammad Ali's visit was Kozhikode's knockout moment". The Times of India. Retrieved September 4, 2016.
- "Muhammad Ali: The face of 'real Islam'". Al Jazeera. June 6, 2016. Retrieved September 4, 2016.
- "Muhammad Ali: Five things you never knew about the boxing legend". CNN. April 28, 2016. Retrieved November 18, 2016.
- "The Champ and Mr. X". National Review. February 29, 2016. Retrieved November 18, 2016.
- "Muhammad Ali: America's First Muslim Hero". Daily Beast. June 4, 2016. Retrieved November 18, 2016.
- "Family, faith and magic tricks: My 40-year friendship with Muhammad Ali". The Telegraph. March 4, 2016. Retrieved December 13, 2016.
- "Muhammad Ali: Unapologetically Black, Unapologetically Muslim". On Being. June 9, 2016. Retrieved December 13, 2016.
- "Muhammad Ali's New Spiritual Quest". Beliefnet. Retrieved December 13, 2016.
- Foley, Michael (2003), Confronting the War Machine: Draft Resistance during the Vietnam War, University of North Carolina Press, ISBN 0-8078-5436-0
- "Clay may be put into 1-A class today". Lodi News-Sentinel. United Press International. February 10, 1967. p. 13.
- Neel, Eric. "Page2 – Muhammad Ali from A to Z". ESPN. Retrieved November 5, 2013.
- Remnick, David (1998). King of the World: Muhammad Ali and the Rise of an American Hero. Random House. p. 287. ISBN 0-375-50065-0.
- Haas, Jeffrey (November 1, 2009). The Assassination of Fred Hampton: How the FBI and the Chicago Police Murdered a Black Panther. Lawrence Hill Books. p. 27. ISBN 978-1-55652-765-4.
- Reemstsma, Jean (1999). More Than a Champion: The Style of Muhammad Ali. New York: Vintage. ISBN 978-0-375-70005-7. Retrieved March 14, 2012.
- ""The Greatest" Is Gone". Time. February 27, 1978. p. 5. Retrieved August 4, 2007.
- "Cassius Marsellus CLAY, Jr. also known as Muhammad Ali, Petitioner, v. UNITED STATES. | LII / Legal Information Institute". Law.cornell.edu. Retrieved November 5, 2013.
- "Clay v. United States | The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law". Oyez.org. Retrieved November 5, 2013.
- "Interview with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar". Digital.wustl.edu. March 3, 1989. Retrieved November 5, 2013.
- "Muhammad Ali: The man who changed his sport and his country". BBC. June 5, 2016.
- "Dundee: Ali was, still is 'The Greatest'". ESPN. January 17, 2012. Retrieved November 5, 2013.
- Rapold, Nicolas (August 22, 2013). "One of His Biggest Fights Was Outside of the Ring". The New York Times. Retrieved August 29, 2016.
- The Hidden History of Muhammad Ali. Muhammad Ali's resistance to racism and war belongs not only to the 1960s, but the common future of humanity. By Dave Zirin. Jacobin
- Ed Pilkington, "Declassified NSA Files Show Agency Spied on Muhammad Ali and MLK Operation Minaret Set Up in 1960s to Monitor Anti-Vietnam Critics, Branded 'Disreputable If Not Outright Illegal' by NSA Itself", The Guardian, September 26, 2013.
- "In 1971, Muhammad Ali Helped Undermine the FBI's Illegal Spying on Americans". The Intercept. June 6, 2016.
- "In pictures: Muhammad Ali's love affair with Africa". BBC News. June 9, 2016.
- Catron, Joe (June 7, 2016). "Millions Mourn The Death Of Muhammad Ali As The Black-Palestinian Solidarity He Championed Continues". MintPress News. Retrieved September 4, 2016.
- Zirin, Dave (June 8, 2016). "Andrew Cuomo Would Have Blacklisted Muhammad Ali". The Nation. Retrieved September 4, 2016.
- Rahman, Mizan (June 6, 2016). "Muhammad Ali's forgotten land in Bangladesh". Gulf Times. Retrieved September 4, 2016.
- Schilling, Vincent (June 4, 2016). "'The Greatest' Muhammad Ali Walks On". Indian Country Today Media Network. Retrieved September 4, 2016.
- Cuddihy, Martin (June 9, 2016). "Muhammad Ali: Africa remembers the boxing legend". ABC News (Australia). Retrieved September 4, 2016.
- Levin, Josh (June 4, 2016). "The Time Muhammad Ali Stopped a Man From Leaping to His Death". Slate.
- "Ali Talks Would-Be Jumper Off Ninth-Floor Fire Escape". The Blade / Associated Press. January 20, 1981.
- Thomas, Robert McG. Jr. (September 20, 1984). "Change In Drug Helps Ali Improve". The New York Times. pp. D–29. Retrieved March 9, 2009.
- "Ali Leaves Hospital Vowing to take better care of himself and get more sleep". The New York Times. September 22, 1984. Retrieved March 9, 2009.
- Friedman, J. H. (1989). "Progressive parkinsonism in boxers". Southern Medical Journal. 82 (5): 543–546. doi:10.1097/00007611-198905000-00002. PMID 2655100.
- "WrestleMania I: Celebrities". Wwe.com. March 31, 1985. Archived from the original on June 5, 2011. Retrieved January 29, 2012.
- McAvennie, Mike (January 17, 2007). "Happy Birthday to 'The Greatest'". WWE.com. Retrieved February 16, 2009.
- "CAMPAIGN NOTES; Muhammad Ali Switches His Support to Reagan". The New York Times. UPI. October 3, 1984. Retrieved September 4, 2016.
- "Muhammad Ali Steps into Ring". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. June 28, 1985. Retrieved September 4, 2016.
- Khaled, Ali (June 4, 2016). "How Muhammad Ali became a sporting hero to the Arab world". Al Arabiya. Retrieved September 4, 2016.
- Callahan, Maureen (November 29, 2015). "How Muhammad Ali secured the release of 15 US hostages in Iraq". New York Post. Retrieved September 4, 2016.
- "Muhammad Ali". Heroism.org. January 17, 1942. Retrieved December 5, 2010.
- Bulman, May (June 5, 2016). "Muhammad Ali dead: Michael J Fox pays tribute to fellow Parkinson's disease sufferer and their 'common fight'". The Independent. Retrieved September 4, 2016.
- "UN Messenger of Peace Muhammad Ali arrives in Afghanistan". UN News Centre. December 13, 2002. Archived from the original on December 13, 2002. Retrieved January 29, 2012.
- "Muhammad Ali visits Kabul". Getty Images. Archived from the original on March 16, 2010. Retrieved May 20, 2008.
- McDonald, Brian (August 12, 2009). "Fightin' talk as Ennis awaits Muhammed Ali". Irish Independent. Retrieved August 26, 2009.
- Wilkes, David (September 2, 2009). "Welcome back to Ireland, Muhammad O'Ali: Boxing legend thrills 10,000 with visit to home of his Irish great-grandfather". Daily Mail. Retrieved November 1, 2013.
- Wilson, Stan (July 28, 2012). "Muhammad Ali returns to the Olympic stage, once again, in London". CNN. Retrieved July 29, 2012.
- "Remembering Muhammad Ali's legacy as a radical, and peaceful, Muslim". Quartz. June 7, 2016.
- Chasmar, Jessica (February 3, 2013). "Brother: Muhammad Ali 'could be dead in days'". The Washington Times. Retrieved September 4, 2016.
- "Muhammad Ali's daughter: Father watching Super Bowl, not near death". CBS News. February 5, 2013. Retrieved September 4, 2016.
- "Muhammad Ali hospitalized with pneumonia". The Journal. Associated Press. Archived from the original on December 21, 2014. Retrieved December 21, 2014.
- Bucktin, Christopher (January 16, 2015). "Boxing legend Muhammad Ali in hospital after being found 'unresponsive' at his home". The Mirror. Retrieved January 16, 2015.
- "Muhammad Ali back in hospital after he was found 'unresponsive in his bed' – just days after the boxing great's 73rd birthday". Daily Mail. January 15, 2015. Retrieved January 16, 2015.
- "Ali out of hospital in time for 73rd birthday". MSN. Archived from the original on January 20, 2015. Retrieved January 17, 2015.
- Martin, Jill (June 2, 2016). "Muhammad Ali hospitalized with respiratory issue". CNN. Retrieved June 3, 2016.
- "Muhammad Ali Dies: 'The Greatest' Boxer Dead at 74". ABC News. June 4, 2016. Retrieved June 6, 2016.
- Lipsyte, Robert (June 3, 2016). "Muhammad Ali Dies at 74: Titan of Boxing and the 20th Century". The New York Times. Retrieved June 3, 2016.
- Schuppe, Jon (June 4, 2016). "Muhammad Ali Died of Septic Shock, Will Be Honored at Public Funeral: Spokesman". NBC News. Retrieved June 6, 2016.
- "Ali: 'Citizen' of the world'". Columbian. June 6, 2016.
- "Muhammad Ali Memorial Service". C-SPAN. June 10, 2016. Retrieved September 9, 2016.
- Schreiner, Bruce; Galofaro, Claire (June 7, 2016). "Will Smith, Lennox Lewis among pallbearers for Muhammad Ali, who scripted his own funeral in final days". nationalpost.com. Retrieved July 31, 2016.
- "Muhammad Ali To Be Buried In Louisville Friday". WFPL. June 4, 2016. Retrieved June 5, 2016.
- "Muhammad Ali's funeral to be watched worldwide by billions". India.com. June 5, 2016. Retrieved June 5, 2016.
- "Muhammad Ali Islamic Funeral Prayer Service Jenazah scheduled at Freedom Hall". WHAS-TV. June 6, 2016. Retrieved June 9, 2016.
- Litman, Laken (June 10, 2016). "Will Smith, Mike Tyson among those serving as pallbearers at Muhammad Ali's funeral | For The Win". ftw.usatoday.com. Retrieved July 31, 2016.
- Slack, Jack (January 24, 2013). "Pulling Back the Curtain on Muhammad Ali". Bloody Elbow. Retrieved July 2, 2013.
- "Muhammad Ali knockout Sonny Liston in Slow Motion HD". YouTube. October 30, 1974. Retrieved September 3, 2013.
- "Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. by Muhammad Ali". Quotedb.com. Retrieved December 5, 2010.
- Paul Gallenger, Sonny Liston.
- Starr, Phillip (2008). Martial Mechanics: Maximum Results with Minimum Effort in the Practice of Martial Arts. Blue Snake Books. p. 13. ISBN 1583942114.
- Hauser, Thomas (2012). Muhammad Ali: His Life and Times (Enhanced Edition). Open Road Media. ISBN 1453250638.
- "How to...fight like Muhammad Ali". The Observer. February 9, 2011. Retrieved July 2, 2013.
- Wiley, Ralph (September 13, 2001). "Jive trash talkin'". ESPN. Retrieved September 3, 2013.
- "Boxing trash talk that stings like a bee". The Guardian. September 28, 2007. Retrieved September 3, 2013.
- "The 50 Best Trash Talk Lines in Sports History". Bleacher Report. Retrieved September 3, 2013.
- Brunt, Stephen (2002). Facing Ali. The Lyons Press. pp. 115–116.
- Hauser, Thomas (1991). Muhammad Ali: His Life and Times. Simon & Schuster. p. 217.
- Brunt, Stephen (2002). Facing Ali. The Lyons Press. p. 116.
- Dennis, Felix; Atyeo, Don (2003). Muhammad Ali: The Glory Years. Miramax Books. p. 162.
- Dennis, Felix; Atyeo, Don (2003). Muhammad Ali: The Glory Years. Miramax Books. p. 180.
- Hauser, Thomas (1991). Muhammad Ali: His Life and Times. Simon & Schuster. p. 216.
- "'The Fight's Over, Joe'". Sports Illustrated. 30 September 1996. Retrieved 25 October 2016.
- Hauser, Thomas (1991). Muhammad Ali: His Life and Times. Simon & Schuster. p. 231.
- "'Lawdy, Lawdy He's Great'". Sports Illustrated. October 13, 1975. Retrieved October 29, 2016.
- "Marcos used Thrilla in Manila fight as distraction from Filipinos' plight". Inter Aksyon. November 10, 2011. Retrieved October 30, 2016.
- Stephen Brunt (2002). Facing Ali. The Lyons Press. p. 123.
- "The unforgiven". The Guardian. September 3, 2005. Retrieved October 30, 2016.
- Brunt, Stephen (2002). Facing Ali. The Lyons Press. p. 121.
- Hauser, Thomas (1991). Muhammad Ali: His Life and Times. Simon & Schuster. p. 256.
- Dennis, Felix; Atyeo, Don (2003). Muhammad Ali: The Glory Years. Miramax Books. p. 204.
- Hauser, Thomas (1991). Muhammad Ali: His Life and Times. Simon & Schuster. p. 255.
- Hauser, Thomas (1991). Muhammad Ali: His Life and Times. Simon & Schuster. pp. 256–57.
- Brunt, Stephen (2002). Facing Ali. The Lyons Press. p. 104.
- Dennis, Felix; Atyeo, Don (2003). Muhammad Ali: The Glory Years. Miramax Books. p. 244.
- "Smokin' Joe: The Autobiography of a Heavyweight Champion of the World, Smokin' Joe Frazier". Retrieved October 30, 2016.
- "Joe Frazier hated Muhammad Ali". ESPN. 9 November 2011. Retrieved 30 October 2016.
- Brunt, Stephen (2002). Facing Ali. The Lyons Press. p. 102.
- "Hoping Joe Frazier Actually Forgave Muhammad Ali". Hartford Courant. November 8, 2011. Retrieved October 30, 2016.
- "BOXING; No Floating, No Stinging: Ali Extends Hand to Frazier". The New York Times. March 15, 2001. Retrieved October 30, 2016.
- "Frazier battled Ali in timeless trilogy". ESPN. Retrieved October 30, 2016.
- Brunt, Stephen (2002). Facing Ali. The Lyons Press. pp. 102, 124.
- "Joe Frazier: Still Smokin' after all these years". The Telegraph. November 11, 2008. Retrieved October 30, 2016.
- "Ali among 4,000 at Frazier funeral". New York Post. November 14, 2011. Retrieved October 30, 2016.
- Hill, Bob (November 19, 2005). "Ali stirs conflicting emotions in hometown". The Courier-Journal. p. K5.
- Wilstein, Steve, Associated Press, "Retton, Hammill most popular American athletes in United States: poll"; The Daily Gazette, May 17, 1993.
- Quittner, Joshua (June 14, 1999). "Ali—Time 100 People of the Century". Time.
- "Sports Illustrated honors world's greatest athletes". CNN. December 3, 1999.
- "Ali crowned Sportsman of Century". BBC Sport. December 13, 1999. Retrieved June 6, 2016.
- Spears, Marc J. (September 14, 1999). "Ali: The Greatest of 20th century; Show stops when the champ arrives for awards dinner". The Courier-Journal. (subscription required (. ))
- "President Clinton Awards the Presidential Citizens Medals". Today at The White House. National Archives and Records Administration. January 8, 2001. Retrieved June 5, 2016.
- "Presidential Medal of Freedom Recipients". White House Press Secretary. November 3, 2005. Archived from the original on March 6, 2008. Retrieved May 20, 2008.
- "Bush presents Ali with Presidential Medal of Freedom". ESPN. November 14, 2005. Retrieved February 16, 2009.
- "Briefs: Ali to receive Otto Hahn Medal today in Berlin". The Seattle Times. December 17, 2005. Retrieved June 5, 2016.
- Ryan, Joe (June 5, 2007). "Boxing legend Ali gets Princeton degree". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved June 5, 2007.
- "Ali Mall: First Ever Shopping Mall Makes A Comeback". Araneta Center. Retrieved September 4, 2016.
- "What role did boxer Muhammad Ali play in early MMA? Let 'Ali vs. Inoki' author Josh Gross explain". MMAjunkie. June 13, 2016. Retrieved September 4, 2016.
- Grant, T. P. (May 2, 2013). "MMA Origins: Fighting For Pride". BloodyElbow. Retrieved September 4, 2016.
- Raimondi, Marc (June 12, 2016). "Click Debate: What's all this talk about the Ali Act coming to MMA?". MMAjunkie. Retrieved September 4, 2016.
- Klimas, Jacqueline (June 7, 2016). "Rand Paul's amendment to knock out the draft named after Muhammad Ali". Washington Examiner. Retrieved September 4, 2016.
- Donelson, Tom. "Was Ali the Greatest Heavyweight?". Boxinginsider.com. Retrieved September 4, 2016.
- "AP Fighters of the Century list". Retrieved February 12, 2012.
- "ESPN Classic Ringside: Top 10 Heavyweights". Amazon.com. Retrieved January 29, 2012.
- "Sugar Ray Robinson wins split decision from Ali". ESPN. September 6, 1999. Archived from the original on January 7, 2008. Retrieved April 26, 2009.
- "Song Stand By Me, recorded in 1964 by Muhammad Ali, then known as Cassius Clay". YouTube. December 13, 2008. Retrieved February 20, 2013.
- "Different versions of 'Stand By Me'". Secondhandsongs.com. Retrieved February 20, 2013.
- "Muhammad Ali: The original rapper – Legendary emcee Chuck D of Public Enemy talks Ali's impact on hip-hop". The Undefeated. June 9, 2016. Retrieved September 4, 2016.
- "Jay Z, Eminem and more hip-hop luminaries remember Muhammad Ali". CBS News. June 9, 2016. Retrieved September 4, 2016.
- "Magazine of the Week (September 28, 2006): Sports Illustrated November 28, 1983". Dtmagazine.com. Retrieved January 29, 2012.
- Ali, Muhammad; Durham, Richard (October 1975). The Greatest: My Own Story. New York: Random House. ISBN 978-0-394-46268-4. OCLC 1622063.
- Smith, Amy (June 9, 2016). "Meet the London busker who worked as Muhammad Ali's personal musician". Time Out. Retrieved June 12, 2016.
- Michel (January 4, 2014). "Experience: Muhammad Ali was my mentor". The Guardian. Retrieved June 11, 2016.
- "Muhammad Ali's appearance on This Is Your Life". Big Red Book – Celebrating television's This Is Your Life. Retrieved January 11, 2016.
- Allison, Scott T.; Messick, David M.; Goethals, George R. (1989). "On Being Better but not Smarter than Others: The Muhammad Ali Effect". Social Cognition. 7 (3): 275–295. doi:10.1521/soco.1918.104.22.1685.
- Van Lange, P. A. M. (December 1, 1991). "Being Better but Not Smarter than Others: The Muhammad Ali Effect at Work in Interpersonal Situations". Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. 17 (6): 689–693. doi:10.1177/0146167291176012.
- When We Were Kings (1996) at the Internet Movie Database
- Ali (2001) at the Internet Movie Database.
- "FILM , Will Smith peaks as Ali". BBC News. December 25, 2001. Retrieved December 5, 2010.
- "Hollywood Walk of Fame database". HWOF.com. Archived from the original on July 1, 2010.
- Christian, Margena A. (April 16, 2007). "How Do You Really Get A Star On The Hollywood Walk Of Fame?". Jet. Vol. 111 no. 15. pp. 25, 29. Retrieved October 12, 2010 – via Google Books.
- "A Star for the Greatest". Jet. Vol. 101 no. 6. January 28, 2002. p. 52. Retrieved September 22, 2010 – via Google Books.
- "The Trials of Muhammad Ali". Kartemquin Educational Films. Retrieved August 26, 2013.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Muhammad Ali.|
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Muhammad Ali|
- Official website
- Muhammad Ali at the Internet Movie Database
- Professional boxing record for Muhammad Ali from BoxRec
- William Addams Reitwiesner Genealogical Services: Ancestry of Muhammad Ali
- Appearances on C-SPAN
- Muhammad Ali discography at Discogs
- "Cassius Clay: Before He Was Ali". Life. Archived from the original on October 21, 2009. Retrieved October 22, 2009.
- Berman, Eliza; Ronk, Liz (June 4, 2016). "Muhammad Ali's Life in Photos; From his time in the ring to his more playful side". Life. time.com. Retrieved October 26, 2016.
|Amateur boxing titles|
|U.S. Golden Gloves light heavyweight champion
|U.S. light heavyweight champion
|U.S. Golden Gloves heavyweight champion
|Regional boxing titles|
Title last held byLeotis Martin
|NABF heavyweight champion
December 17, 1970 – March 8, 1971
Lost bid for world title
Title next held byGeorge Foreman
Title last held byGeorge Foreman
|NABF heavyweight champion
July 26, 1971 – March 31, 1973
|NABF heavyweight champion
September 10, 1973 – October 30, 1974
Won world title
Title next held byKen Norton
|World boxing titles|
|WBC heavyweight champion
February 25, 1964 – March 11, 1969
Title next held byJoe Frazier
|The Ring heavyweight champion
February 25, 1964 – February 3, 1971
|Undisputed heavyweight champion
February 25, 1964 – February 3, 1971
|Lineal heavyweight champion
February 25, 1964 – February 3, 1971
|WBA heavyweight champion
February 6, 1967 – April 27, 1968
Title next held byJimmy Ellis
|WBA heavyweight champion
October 30, 1974 – February 15, 1978
|WBC heavyweight champion
October 30, 1974 – February 15, 1978
|The Ring heavyweight champion
October 30, 1974 – February 15, 1978
|Undisputed heavyweight champion
October 30, 1974 – February 15, 1978
|Lineal heavyweight champion
October 30, 1974 – February 15, 1978
|WBA heavyweight champion
September 15, 1978 – October 18, 1979
Title next held byJohn Tate
|The Ring heavyweight champion
September 15, 1978 – September 6, 1979
Title next held byLarry Holmes
|Lineal heavyweight champion
September 15, 1978 – September 6, 1979
|Inaugural award||United Press International
Athlete of the Year
João Carlos de Oliveira
|BBC Overseas Sports Personality of the Year
|BBC Overseas Sports Personality of the Year
|Final Summer Olympic Torchbearer