Muhammad Ali, born Cassius Clay Jr., was an American boxer and one of the most iconic figures in sports history. He was born in Louisville, Kentucky in 1942 and began boxing at a young age, winning his first amateur fight at the age of 12. He quickly developed a reputation for his speed, footwork, and quick wit.
In 1960, at the age of 18, Ali won a gold medal in the light heavyweight division at the Rome Olympics. He turned professional later that year, and by 1964, he had compiled a record of 19 wins and no losses. It was in this year that he won the world heavyweight championship, defeating Sonny Liston in a stunning upset.
Ali was known for his brash personality and his willingness to speak his mind, even if it meant courting controversy. He famously refused to be drafted into the U.S. military during the Vietnam War, citing his religious beliefs and opposition to the war. This decision led to his boxing license being revoked and he was stripped of his world heavyweight title.
Ali's stance on the Vietnam War made him a hero to many and a villain to others. However, he remained committed to his principles and eventually won his case in the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled that his objection to military service was a legitimate expression of his religious beliefs.
Over the course of his career, Ali would go on to win the world heavyweight title three times, cementing his legacy as one of the greatest boxers of all time. He retired from boxing in 1981 with a record of 56 wins and 5 losses.
Ali was also an advocate for civil rights and social justice, using his platform as a famous athlete to speak out against racism and inequality. He was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 1984 and spent the rest of his life as a philanthropist and humanitarian. Ali passed away on June 3, 2016, at the age of 74, but his legacy as a champion boxer and a powerful voice for social justice continues to inspire people around the world.
RIP to the Greatest.