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About Muhammad Ali

Early Life

  • Born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. on January 17, 1942, in Louisville, Kentucky.
  • He began boxing at the age of 12 after his bicycle was stolen, then he told a police officer he wanted to "whup" whoever stole it.
  • Trained under Joe E. Martin at the Columbia Gym in Louisville.


  • Graduated from Central High School in Louisville, KY in 1960.

Family and Personal Life

  • He converted to Islam in 1964 and changed his name to Muhammad Ali.
  • He married four times and had nine children.
  • He was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 1984.
  • He passed away on June 3, 2016, in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Religion and Beliefs

  • He converted to Islam in 1964 under the guidance of Malcolm X.
  • Changed his name from Cassius Clay to Muhammad Ali, explaining that his former name was a "slave name".
  • Became a vocal advocate for the Nation of Islam and later embraced a more mainstream form of Islam.

Amateur Career

  • Won a gold medal at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, Italy.

Professional Career

  • He turned professional in 1960 and won his first 19 fights.
  • Became the world heavyweight champion in 1964 after defeating Sonny Liston in a major upset.
  • He was stripped of his title in 1967 after refusing to be drafted into the Vietnam War.
  • He returned to boxing in 1970 and regained his title in 1974 after defeating George Foreman in the famous "Rumble in the Jungle" fight in Zaire.
  • Retired in 1981 with 56 wins, 5 losses, and 37 knockouts.

Key Fights

  • February 25, 1964: Defeated Sonny Liston to become world heavyweight champion.
  • March 22, 1967: He refused to be drafted into the Vietnam War and was stripped of his title.
  • October 30, 1974: Defeated George Foreman in the "Rumble in the Jungle" fight in Zaire to regain his title.
  • October 1, 1975: Defeated Joe Frazier in the "Thrilla in Manila" fight in the Philippines.
  • September 15, 1978: Defeated Leon Spinks to become the first three-time world heavyweight champion.

Championship Belts Held

  • World heavyweight champion (1964-1967, 1974-1978, 1978-1979)

Recording and Acting Career

  • Released an album of spoken-word poetry, "I Am the Greatest!" in 1963.
  • Acted in several films, including "The Greatest" (1977) and "Freedom Road" (1979).

Draft Resistance, Issues with FBI, NSA, and Government

  • He refused to be drafted into the Vietnam War in 1967, citing his religious beliefs and opposition to the war.
  • Convicted of draft evasion and stripped of his boxing titles and banned from the sport for three years.
  • He fought his case all the way to the Supreme Court, which ruled in his favor in 1971.
  • Was a vocal opponent of the Vietnam War and an advocate for civil rights and social justice.
  • He was monitored by the FBI and NSA, who considered him a threat to national security.


  • Muhammad Ali was also an accomplished artist, creating numerous paintings and drawings throughout his life.
  • His artwork often featured images of himself, as well as portraits of other famous figures such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X.

Later Life

  • He continued participating in social and political causes after he retired from boxing.
  • He received numerous honors and awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005.
  • He was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 1984, which he attributed to the repeated head trauma he sustained during his boxing career.
  • He passed away on June 3, 2016, at the age of 74.

Social Impact and Legacy

  • One of the most iconic and beloved athletes in history, Muhammad Ali was also a symbol of social and political activism.
  • He used his fame and influence to speak out against racism, war, and injustice.
  • He was an inspiration to generations of athletes and activists who followed in his footsteps.


  • Throughout his career, Muhammad Ali earned an estimated $60 million from boxing, making him one of the highest-paid athletes of his time.
  • In addition to his boxing earnings, Ali made significant money from endorsements and investments.
  • He was a spokesperson for brands such as Coca-Cola, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and Louis Vuitton and had his own merchandise line.
  • Ali invested in real estate and other ventures, including a chain of hamburger restaurants and a record label.
  • Despite his earnings, Ali was also known for his philanthropy and donated millions of dollars to charity.

Best Quotes

Throughout his career, Muhammad Ali became known for his famously flamboyant quotes.  Some of the best soundbites include:

  1. "I am the greatest; I said that even before I knew, I was."
  2. "Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee."
  3. "Don't count the days; make the days count."
  4. "It's not bragging if you can back it up."
  5. "Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they've been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It's an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It's a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing."
  6. "He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life."
  7. "Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth."
  8. "I hated every minute of training, but I said, 'Don't quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.'"
  9. "I'm young; I'm handsome; I'm fast. I can't possibly be beat."
  10. "The man who has no imagination has no wings."

We hope this brief overview has provided you with insight into the life and legacy of Muhammad Ali. At Global Images, we proudly offer a collection of rare and iconic photographs of this legendary athlete and cultural icon. Browse our selection today and own a piece of history.

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