Muhammad Ali (born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr.; January 17, 1942) is a three-time World Heavyweight Champion, and is widely considered one of the greatest heavyweight boxers of all-time.
Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. was born in Louisville, Kentucky on January 17, 1942.
He discovered boxing at the age of 12 and would go on to become an outstanding amateur boxer. As an amateur, Clay won a handful of Golden Glove titles, and the Light Heavyweight gold medal in the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome. Clay's amateur record was 100-5.
As a professional, Clay would go on to have great success as well.
Standing tall, at 6-ft, 3-in, Clay had a highly unorthodox style for a heavyweight boxer. Rather than the normal style of carrying the hands high to defend the face from incoming punches, he instead relied on foot speed and quickness to avoid punches as he carried his hands low.
On his trek towards heavyweight prominence, Clay defeated the likes of Billy Daniels, Archie Moore, Doug Jones, and Henry Cooper.
In 1964, Clay shocked the world as he had boldly predicted, by upsetting the seemingly impenetrable Sonny Liston for the heavyweight title by forcing the champion to retire on his stool after six rounds. After the fight, Clay announced his devotion to the teachings of Islam and changed his name to Muhammad Ali.
Ali was arrogant and charismatic. You either loved him or hated him.
In his prime, he was so much quicker than his opponents, he was often able to box while holding his left hand by his side while pulling straight back to avoid punches. This style would get most fighters knocked out, but not Ali, not with his rare combination of skill, speed, and talent.
In 1967, Ali, citing his religious beliefs, refused induction into the U.S. Army. He was arrested, had his boxing license suspended, and was stripped of the heavyweight title. He was an inactive boxer from March 22, 1967 to October 26, 1970, arguably the peak years of his physical prime.
While he was suspended from boxing, Joe Frazier tore through the division to become the heavyweight champion.
Still sporting an unblemished record, Ali returned in 1970 and bounced back with victories over Jerry Quarry and Oscar Bonavena, finally setting up a much anticipated bout with the undefeated champion, Joe Frazier.
In a fight known as "The Fight of the Century," Frazier outfought Ali for much of the bout and dropped Ali in the 15th round to capture a unanimous decision.
Soon thereafter, Ali won ten bouts in a row, before suffering the second loss of his career against Ken Norton. Ali traveled to his opponent's backyard, suffered a broken jaw, and dropped a split decision.
Ali defeated Norton via split decision in an immediate rematch.
Ali fought a rematch against Joe Frazier in January 28, 1974. Ali defeated Frazier via unanimous decision.
On October 30, 1974, Ali faced off against the seemingly invincible knockout artist, George Foreman, in a fight billed as "The Rumble in the Jungle." Ali was given little chance to defeat the young undefeated giant. The fight was held in Kinsasha, Zaire and Ali employed the now famous Rope-A-Dope to tire Foreman out before stopping him in the eighth round.
Ali went on to successfully defend the heavyweight title against a host of contenders, including the final fights of his trilogies with Frazier (Ali W RTD 14) and Norton (Ali UD). Finally, in 1978, Olympic gold medalist, Leon Spinks, participating in just his eighth pro fight, upset Ali to win the title. However, Ali made history six months later when he defeated Spinks in a rematch to capture the heavyweight crown for a third time.
Far past his prime, Ali had two more fights towards the end of his career which both ended in defeat. In 1980, he was stopped by Larry Holmes, a former sparring partner, and in 1981, he lost a ten round decision to future champ Trevor Berbick.
Muhammad Ali: 56-5 (37 KOs)
PROFESSIONAL BOXING RECORD