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Swinging Modern Sounds #104: Paradise

Muhammad Ali
Muhammad Ali NYWTS.jpg
Ali in 1967
Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr.

(1942-01-17)January 17, 1942
DiedJune 3, 2016(2016-06-03) (aged 74)
Resting placeCave Hill Cemetery, Louisville, Kentucky
EducationCentral High School (1958)
  • Sonji Roi
    (m. 1964; div. 1966)
  • (m. 1967; div. 1977)
  • (m. 1977; div. 1986)
  • Yolanda Williams
    (m. 1986)
Children9, including Laila Ali
RelativesRahman Ali (brother)
Archer Alexander (great-great-great grandfather)
AwardsAwards and accolades
Boxing career
  • The Greatest
  • The People's Champion
  • The Louisville Lip
Height6 ft 3 in (191 cm)[2]
Reach78 in (198 cm)[2]
Boxing record
Total fights61
Wins by KO37

Muhammad Ali (/ɑːˈl/;[3] born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr.;[4] January 17, 1942 – June 3, 2016) was an American professional boxer, activist, entertainer and philanthropist. Nicknamed The Greatest, he is widely regarded as one of the most significant and celebrated figures of the 20th century and as one of the greatest boxers of all time.

Ali was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky. He began training as an amateur boxer at age 12. At 18, he won a gold medal in the light heavyweight division at the 1960 Summer Olympics and turned professional later that year. He became a Muslim after 1961. He won the world heavyweight championship from Sonny Liston in a major upset on February 25, 1964, at age 22. On March 6, 1964, he announced that he no longer would be known as Cassius Clay but as Muhammad Ali. In 1966, Ali refused to be drafted into the military, citing his religious beliefs and ethical opposition to the Vietnam War.[5][6] He was found guilty of draft evasion so he faced 5 years in prison and was stripped of his boxing titles. He stayed out of prison as he appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, which overturned his conviction in 1971, but he had not fought for nearly four years and lost a period of peak performance as an athlete.[7] Ali's actions as a conscientious objector to the Vietnam War made him an icon for the larger counterculture generation,[8][9] and he was a very high-profile figure of racial pride for African Americans during the civil rights movement and throughout his career.[5][10] As a Muslim, Ali was initially affiliated with Elijah Muhammad's Nation of Islam (NOI). He later disavowed the NOI, adhering to Sunni Islam, and supporting racial integration like his former mentor Malcolm X.

He was involved in several historic boxing matches and feuds, most notably his fights with Joe Frazier, such as the Fight of the Century and the Thrilla in Manila, and his fight with George Foreman, known as The Rumble in the Jungle, which has been called "arguably the greatest sporting event of the 20th century"[11][12] and was watched by a record estimated television audience of 1 billion viewers worldwide,[13][14] becoming the world's most-watched live television broadcast at the time. Ali thrived in the spotlight at a time when many fighters let their managers do the talking, and he was often provocative and outlandish.[15][16][17] He was known for trash-talking, and often free-styled with rhyme schemes and spoken word poetry, anticipating elements of hip hop.[18][19][20]

Ali was a leading heavyweight boxer of the 20th century, and he remains the only three-time lineal champion of that division. His joint records of beating 21 boxers for the world heavyweight title and winning 14 unified title bouts stood for 35 years.[note 1][note 2][21][22][23] He is the only fighter to have been ranked as the world's best heavyweight by BoxRec twelve times. He has been ranked among BoxRec's ten best heavyweights seventeen times, the third most in history.[24] He won 8 fights that were rated by BoxRec as 5-Star, the third most in the history of the heavyweight division. Ali is the only boxer to be named The Ring magazine Fighter of the Year six times. He has been ranked the greatest heavyweight boxer of all time,[25] and as the greatest athlete of the 20th century by Sports Illustrated, the Sports Personality of the Century by the BBC, and the third greatest athlete of the 20th century by ESPN SportsCentury.[26][27]

Outside the ring, Ali attained success as a musician, where he received two Grammy nominations.[20] He also featured as an actor and writer, releasing two autobiographies. Ali retired from boxing in 1981 and focused on religion, philanthropinism and activism. In 1984, he made public his diagnosis of Parkinson's syndrome, which some reports attribute to boxing-related injuries,[28] though he and his specialist physicians disputed this.[29] He remained an active public figure globally, but in his later years made fewer public appearances as his condition worsened, and he was cared for by his family. Ali died on June 3, 2016.

  1. ^ "Muhammad Ali: The greatest monument to the great one". MediaWorks TV. March 31, 2011. Retrieved June 4, 2016.
  2. ^ a b Boxing record for Muhammad Ali from BoxRec. Retrieved June 5, 2016.
  3. ^ Wells, John C. (2008). "Ali". Longman Pronunciation Dictionary (3rd ed.). Longman. ISBN 978-1-4058-8118-0. the former boxer Muhammad Ali pronounces ɑːˈliː
  4. ^ Peter, Josh (July 11, 2016). "Why Muhammad Ali never legally changed name from Cassius Clay". USA Today. Retrieved July 12, 2016.
  5. ^ a b Hauser, Thomas. "The Importance of Muhammad Ali". Gilder Lehrman Institute.
  6. ^ Roberts, Randy (1991). Winning is the Only Thing: Sports in America Since 1945. Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 171–172.
  7. ^ Editors, History com. "Muhammad Ali refuses Army induction". HISTORY. Retrieved November 5, 2020.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  8. ^ Hallett, Alison. "Not So Fast". Portland Mercury. Retrieved December 27, 2013.
  9. ^ Rhoden, William C. (June 20, 2013). "In Ali's Voice From the Past, a Stand for the Ages". The New York Times.
  10. ^ "The religion and politics of Muhammad Ali". Hollowverse. MK Safi. Retrieved June 4, 2016.
  11. ^ Kang, Jay Caspian (April 4, 2013). "The End and Don King". Grantland. ESPN. Retrieved April 4, 2013.
  12. ^ McDougall, Christopher (2014). The Best American Sports Writing 2014. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. p. 149. ISBN 9780544147003.
  13. ^ "Revisiting 'The Rumble in the Jungle' 40 years later". USA Today. October 29, 2014.
  14. ^ Cite error: The named reference jet was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  15. ^ "Muhammad Ali – press conference 1974". YouTube. September 26, 2012. Retrieved November 5, 2013.
  16. ^ "Muhammad Ali – Pre Liston Poetry & Highlights". YouTube. February 12, 2011. Retrieved November 5, 2013.
  17. ^ "Muhammad Ali Famous Interview After Defeating Foreman". YouTube. January 6, 2010. Retrieved November 5, 2013.
  18. ^ Cite error: The named reference nytimes2 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  19. ^ Cite error: The named reference rollingstone1 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  20. ^ a b Cite error: The named reference rollingstone2 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  21. ^ "Сегодня годовщина смерти легендарного Мохаммеда Али". Sport Express (in Russian). Retrieved February 21, 2021.
  22. ^ "Главные события десятилетия: бокс". isport.ua (in Russian). Retrieved February 21, 2021.
  23. ^ "17 січня: історія, події та факти". Ye.ua (in Ukrainian). Retrieved February 21, 2021.
  24. ^ "BoxRec's Annual Ratings: Heavyweight Annuals". BoxRec. Retrieved December 25, 2020.
  25. ^ "Muhammad Ali". ESPN. January 20, 2012. Retrieved January 29, 2012.
  26. ^ Donelson, Tom. "Was Ali the Greatest Heavyweight?". Boxinginsider.com. Retrieved September 4, 2016.
  27. ^ "AP Fighters of the Century list". Retrieved February 12, 2012.
  28. ^ Cite error: The named reference nytimes was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  29. ^ AP "Muhammad Ali's doctor doubts boxing led to Parkinson's", Associated Press via CBC, June 6. 2016. Retrieved September 1, 2018.

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