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Muhammad Ali Fast Facts


Here is a look at the life of boxing legend Muhammad Ali, three-time world heavyweight champion and Olympic gold medalist.


Birth date: January 17, 1942

Death date: June 3, 2016

Birth place: Louisville, Kentucky

Birth name: Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr.

Father: Cassius (Cash) Clay, sign and mural painter

Mother: Odessa (Grady) Clay

Marriages: Yolanda (Lonnie) Williams (November 19, 1986-June 3, 2016, his death); Veronica Porche (June 1977-January 1986, divorced); Khalilah Tolona (Belinda Boyd) (August 1967-January 1977, divorced); Sonji Roi (August 1964-January 1966, divorced)

Children: Adopted with Yolanda (Lonnie) Williams: Assad; with Veronica Porche: Laila and Hana; with Aaisha Fletcher: Khaliah; with Khalilah Tolona: Muhammad Ibo Jr., Rasheda, Jamillah and Maryum; with Patricia Harvell: Miya

Other Facts

Nicknamed “The Greatest.”

He became interested in boxing after reporting the theft of his bike to a policeman who gave boxing lessons at a local community center.

As an amateur boxer, he won 100 of 108 fights, including six Kentucky Golden Gloves championships.

Rhyming was one of his trademarks. “They all fall in the round I call,” “rope-a-dope,” “rumble in the jungle,” and “thrilla in Manila.”

His book, “GOAT: A Tribute to Muhammad Ali,” weighs 75-pounds and is covered in silk and Louis Vuitton leather. It contains more than 3,000 images. Ten thousand copies were published. The first 1,000 were signed and sold for $7,500 each. The remaining 9,000 sold for $3,000 each. GOAT stands for “Greatest of All Time.”


1959 – Wins the National Golden Gloves championship as a light heavyweight and qualifies for the US Olympic team.

1960 – Wins Olympic gold for light heavyweight. Turns pro after the Olympics.

February 25, 1964 – Defeats Sonny Liston, by knockout in the seventh round, for the title of World Heavyweight Champion.

1964 – Converts and joins the Nation of Islam, and changes his name from Cassius Clay to Muhammad Ali.

May 25, 1965 – Rematch with Liston, wins again by knockout in the first round.

April 28, 1967 – As a conscientious objector to the Vietnam War, Ali refuses induction into the US Army. The World Boxing Association strips him of his world title. New York and other states revoke his license to box.

June 20, 1967 – Is convicted in federal court of violating Selective Service laws, sentenced to five years in prison, and fined $10,000.

October 26, 1970 – In Ali’s first professional fight in more than three years, he defeats Jerry Quarry, by knockout in the third round.

March 8, 1971 – Known as the “Fight of the Century,” Ali and Joe Frazier split a $5 million purse at Madison Square Garden for Frazier’s title. After 15 rounds, it’s Ali’s first professional loss.

June 28, 1971 – The US Supreme Court reverses Ali’s Selective Service violation conviction in a unanimous ruling.

July 26, 1971 – Defeats Jimmy Ellis, by knockout in the 12th round, for the North American Boxing Federation (NABF) heavyweight title.

September 20, 1972 – Defeats Floyd Patterson, by knockout in the seventh round, retaining the NABF title.

March 31, 1973 – Loses the NABF title to Ken Norton in the 12th round.

September 10, 1973 – Regains the NABF title in the 12th round of a rematch with Ken Norton.

January 23, 1974 – Gets in a fight with Frazier at ABC’s New York studio, both are fined $5,000.

January 28, 1974 – Defeats Frazier in 12 rounds and retains his NABF title.

October 30, 1974 – “The Rumble in the Jungle” takes place in Kinshasa, Zaire (now Democratic Republic of the Congo). Ali defeats George Foreman, by knockout in the eighth round, to again become the World Heavyweight Boxing Champion.

1975 – Leaves the Nation of Islam to practice the more mainstream Islamic faith.

October 1, 1975 – The “Thrilla in Manila,” against Frazier, is another victory when Frazier’s manager, Eddie Futch, fearing for Frazier’s safety, ends the match before the start of round 15.

February 15, 1978 – Loses his heavyweight title to Leon Spinks after 15 rounds and a split decision.

September 15, 1978 – Reclaims the title from Spinks with a unanimous decision after 15 rounds, becoming the World Heavyweight Boxing Champion for the third time.

June 26, 1979 – Retires from professional boxing.

October 2, 1980 – Comes out of retirement for a guaranteed purse of $8 million, and a chance for the World Boxing Council title. Ali loses to Larry Holmes by knockout in the 11th round.

December 11, 1981 – Loses to Trevor Berbick, after ten rounds and a unanimous decision, in his last professional fight.

1984 – Reveals that he has Parkinson’s disease, a disorder of the central nervous system.

November 27, 1990 – Meets with Iraq President Saddam Hussein in Baghdad to negotiate the release of Americans being held hostage.

December 2, 1990 – Accompanies 15 freed US hostages out of Iraq.

July 19, 1996 – Lights the torch at the opening ceremonies of the Summer Olympics in Atlanta.

February 4, 1999 – First boxer to appear on the front of a Wheaties cereal box.

November 9, 2005 – Is presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush.

November 21, 2005 – The Muhammad Ali Center opens in Louisville, Kentucky.

April 11, 2006 – Entertainment and licensing firm CKX announces that it is paying Ali $50 million in exchange for 80% of whatever it makes selling his name and likeness. Under the agreement, Ali has 20% control of the newly formed company G.O.A.T. LLC.

May 24, 2011 – Publicly appeals to Iranian officials for the release of detained US citizens Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal.

October 2013 – The Muhammad Ali Center in Ali’s hometown, Louisville, Kentucky, honors him with “Three Days of Greatness.” A weekend of film premieres on Ali’s life and the presentation of the Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Awards.

December 20, 2014 – Is hospitalized with pneumonia.

February 18, 2015 – Under Armour announces it will launch a “lifestyle apparel” line bearing Ali’s likeness. Photos of Ali will be used in marketing campaigns.

June 2, 2016 – A spokesman for the Ali family announces he is in the hospital for a respiratory issue.

June 3, 2016 – Ali dies at age 74 after a lengthy battle with Parkinson’s disease.

Article Topic Follows: National & World

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