Muhammad Ali facts for kids
Quick facts for kids
Ali in 1967
Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr.
January 17, 1942
Louisville, Kentucky, U.S.
|Died||June 3, 2016
Scottsdale, Arizona, U.S.
|Resting place||Cave Hill Cemetery, Louisville|
|Education||Central High School (1958)|
|Children||9, including Laila|
|Awards||Muhammad Ali § Notes|
Muhammad Ali (born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr.; January 17, 1942 – June 3, 2016) was an American boxer. He became one of the most famous boxers in the world with his "rope-a-dope" technique. He was also well known for his clever rhymes. In 1999, Ali was named "Sportsman of the Century" by Sports Illustrated magazine. He won the World Heavyweight Boxing Championship three times. Ali also won an Olympic gold medal for boxing during the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, Italy. Ali was also known as “The Greatest.”
- Early life
- Amatuer career
- Early professional boxing career
- Return to prizefighting
- World heavyweight champion (second reign)
- Later career
- Entertainment career
- Personal life
- Health Issues
- Muhammad Ali quotes
- Interesting facts about Muhammad Ali
- Professional boxing record
- Images for kids
Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. was born on January 17, 1942, in Louisville, Kentucky. He had one brother. He was named after his father, a billboard painter. His mother, Odessa O'Grady Clay (1917–1994), was a domestic helper. Cassius Jr. attended Central High School in Louisville. He was dyslexic, which caused him to have trouble in school and for much of his life. He grew up during the time of racial segregation.
When Ali was 12 years old, a thief stole his bicycle. Police officer and boxing coach Joe E. Martin saw him upset about the theft. Martin encouraged him to learn how to box.
After seeing amateur boxers on a local television boxing program called Tomorrow's Champions, Clay was interested in the possibility of fighting. He then began to work with trainer Fred Stoner. For the last four years of Clay's amateur career, he was trained by Chuck Bodak.
Clay's first fight was against Ronnie O'Keefe in 1954. He won by split decision. Clay's amateur record was 100 wins with five losses. During his amateur career, he won the light heavyweight gold medal in the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome.
Early professional boxing career
Clay's first professional fight was on October 29, 1960. He fought and beat Tunney Hunsaker. From then until the end of 1963, Clay's boxing record was 19–0 (nineteen wins and zero losses) with 15 wins by knockout. He defeated boxers including Tony Esperti, Jim Robinson, Donnie Fleeman, Alonzo Johnson, George Logan, Willi Besmanoff, LaMar Clark, Doug Jones, and Henry Cooper. Clay also beat his former trainer and veteran boxer Archie Moore in a 1962 match.
At age 22, Clay fought heavyweight champion Sonny Liston. He won the fight and became the heavyweight champion of the world. Clay defended his title against former heavyweight champion Floyd Patterson on November 22, 1965.
Soon after the Liston fight, Clay changed his name to Cassius X. He later changed his name again to Muhammad Ali when he converted to Islam and joined with the Nation of Islam.
Main Bout and resistance to the draft
After the Patterson fight, Ali founded his own promotion company, Main Bout. The company mainly handled Ali's boxing promotions and pay-per-view closed-circuit television broadcasts. The company's stockholders were mainly fellow Nation of Islam members and several others, including Bob Arum.
After Ali defeated Zora Folley to keep his heavyweight title on March 22, he was stripped of his title because he refused to be drafted to army service. The state of New York also suspended his boxing license. He was convicted of draft evasion on June 20 and sentenced to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. He paid a bond and remained free while the judgment was being appealed.
On June 28, 1971, the Supreme Court of the United States in Clay v. United States overturned Ali's conviction by a unanimous 8–0 decision. (Justice Thurgood Marshall recused himself, as he had been the U.S. Solicitor General at the time of Ali's conviction).
Return to prizefighting
On August 11, 1970, with his case still in appeal, Ali was granted a license to box by the City of Atlanta Athletic Commission. In November, a victory in federal court forced the New York State Boxing Commission to reinstate Ali's license. Ali began fighting again and became a top contender against heavyweight champion Joe Frazier.
First and second fights against Joe Frazier
Ali and Frazier's first fight was held at Madison Square Garden on March 8, 1971. It was nicknamed the "Fight of the Century" because the public was excited to see two undefeated fighters box each other. The fight was broadcast in 36 countries, and 760 members of the press were allowed to enter the building. Although Ali was not knocked out, he lost by unanimous decision. It was his first professional defeat.
Between Ali's first and second fights with Joe Frazier, he won six fights in 1972. In 1973, Ken Norton gave Ali the second loss of his career. Ali considered retiring, but fought Norton again and won. This led to a rematch with Joe Frazier at Madison Square Garden on January 28, 1974; Frazier had recently lost his title to George Foreman.
During Ali and Frazier's second fight, the judges unanimously awarded the win to Ali. Ali's defeat of Frazier set the stage for a title fight against heavyweight champion George Foreman.
World heavyweight champion (second reign)
The Rumble in the Jungle
The fight against Foreman took place in Kinshasa, Zaire, on October 30, 1974. It was nicknamed The Rumble in the Jungle. Foreman was considered one of the hardest punchers in heavyweight history. Many thought Ali did not have a chance to win against Foreman. During the fight, Ali introduced his "rope-a-dope" strategy. He leaned against the ropes and took punches, hoping to tire Foreman. The fight was watched by a record estimated television audience of 1 billion viewers worldwide. It was the world's most-watched live television broadcast at the time. Ali won the fight and regained the title of Heavyweight Champion of the World.
Third fight against Joe Frazier
Ali then agreed to a third match with Joe Frazier in Manila. The bout, known as the "Thrilla in Manila," was held on October 1, 1975, in temperatures approaching 100 °F (38 °C). Ali won the fight. He admitted afterward that Frazier was "the greatest fighter of all times next to me."
Following the Manila bout, Ali fought Jean-Pierre Coopman, Jimmy Young, and Richard Dunn, winning the last by knockout. He fought a few more times between 1976 and 1980, winning some and losing some fights. In 1979, Ali announced his retirement but came out of retirement shortly afterward because he needed money. Ali fought for the last time on December 11, 1981, in Nassau, Bahamas, against Trevor Berbick, losing a ten-round decision.
Ali had a cameo role in the 1962 film version of Requiem for a Heavyweight. While he was not allowed to box, he starred in the 1968 Broadway musical Buck White. He rode a horse and a bull in the 1972 documentary film Black Rodeo.
Ali, with the help of Richard Durham, published his autobiography The Greatest: My Own Story in 1975. The book was made into a film called The Greatest. Ali starred as himself. In 1978, Ali starred in the film Freedom Road. He played a former slave and Union (American Civil War) soldier in 1870s Virginia who gets elected to the U.S. Senate.
Spoken word poetry and rap music
Ali often used rhyme schemes and spoken word poetry, both in and out of boxing. According to The Guardian, Some have argued that Ali was "the first rapper."
In 1963, Ali released an album of spoken word music on Columbia Records titled, I Am the Greatest, which sold 500,000 copies. People identify it as an early example of rap music and an introduction to hip hop.
Ali was involved with professional wrestling at different times in his career. On March 31, 1985, Ali was the special guest referee for the main event of the inaugural WrestleMania event.
In 1995, Ali led a group of Japanese and American professional wrestlers on a sports diplomacy mission to North Korea. Ali was guest of honor at the record-breaking Collision in Korea, a wrestling event with the largest attendance of all time.
Muhammad Ali was married four times. He had seven daughters (including Laila Ali) and two sons. One of his sons was adopted.
Ali was known to be a very generous and humorous person who loved being the center of attention. He never rejected signing an autograph, partially because he remembered how he'd felt as a youth when he was denied an autograph from his idol, Sugar Ray Robinson. His best success outside the ring came as a philanthropist and activist as he always wanted to use his popularity to help people.
Ali began struggling with vocal stutters and trembling hands in 1979. In the early 1980s, it was found out that Ali had Parkinson's syndrome. In 1984, he made public his diagnosis of Parkinson's disease. Many blame the disease on boxing-related injuries, though he and some specialist doctors disagreed with this. 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.
On June 3, 2016, Ali died at a Scottsdale, Arizona hospital at age 74.
Muhammad Ali quotes
- "Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. His hands can't hit what his eyes can't see. Now you see me, now you don't. George thinks he will, but I know he won't."
- "Don’t count the days; make the days count."
- "I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.'"
- "We can’t be brave without fear."
Interesting facts about Muhammad Ali
- Muhammed Ali and his father were named after a white farmer and abolitionist, Cassius Marcellus Clay.
- Ali's great-grandfather Abe Grady was an Irishman who emigrated to the United States and settled in Kentucky in the 1860s.
- Ali won 56 of the 61 professional fights of his career.
- He was the first boxer to win the world heavyweight title 3 times.
- He fought one of his most famous bouts , Rumble in the Jungle, at 4 a.m.
- In 2014, fifty years after Ali won the heavyweight title from Sonny Liston, someone purchased the gloves he wore in that fight for $836,000. Ali earned ($5,504,388 in 2023) for the fight itself.
- He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease at age 42.
- Will Smith plays Ali in the movie Ali.
Professional boxing record
|61 fights||56 wins||5 losses|
|61||Loss||56–5||Trevor Berbick||UD||10||Dec 11, 1981||39 years, 328 days||Queen Elizabeth Sports Centre, Nassau, Bahamas|
|60||Loss||56–4||Larry Holmes||RTD||10 (15), 3:00||Oct 2, 1980||38 years, 259 days||Caesars Palace, Paradise, Nevada, U.S.||For WBC and vacant The Ring heavyweight titles|
|59||Win||56–3||Leon Spinks||UD||15||Sep 15, 1978||36 years, 241 days||Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.||Won WBA and The Ring heavyweight titles|
|58||Loss||55–3||Leon Spinks||SD||15||Feb 15, 1978||36 years, 29 days||Las Vegas Hilton, Winchester, Nevada, U.S.||Lost WBA, WBC, and The Ring heavyweight titles|
|57||Win||55–2||Earnie Shavers||UD||15||Sep 29, 1977||35 years, 255 days||Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.||Retained WBA, WBC, and The Ring heavyweight titles|
|56||Win||54–2||Alfredo Evangelista||UD||15||May 16, 1977||35 years, 119 days||Capital Centre, Landover, Maryland, U.S.||Retained WBA, WBC, and The Ring heavyweight titles|
|55||Win||53–2||Ken Norton||UD||15||Sep 28, 1976||34 years, 255 days||Yankee Stadium, New York City, New York, U.S.||Retained WBA, WBC, and The Ring heavyweight titles|
|54||Win||52–2||Richard Dunn||TKO||5 (15), 2:05||May 24, 1976||34 years, 128 days||Olympiahalle, Munich, West Germany||Retained WBA, WBC, and The Ring heavyweight titles|
|53||Win||51–2||Jimmy Young||UD||15||Apr 30, 1976||34 years, 104 days||Capital Centre, Landover, Maryland, U.S.||Retained WBA, WBC, and The Ring heavyweight titles|
|52||Win||50–2||Jean-Pierre Coopman||KO||5 (15), 2:46||Feb 20, 1976||34 years, 34 days||Roberto Clemente Coliseum, San Juan, Puerto Rico||Retained WBA, WBC, and The Ring heavyweight titles|
|51||Win||49–2||Joe Frazier||RTD||14 (15), 3:00||Oct 1, 1975||33 years, 257 days||Philippine Coliseum, Quezon City, Philippines||Retained WBA, WBC, and The Ring heavyweight titles|
|50||Win||48–2||Joe Bugner||UD||15||July 1, 1975||33 years, 164 days||Stadium Merdeka, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia||Retained WBA, WBC, and The Ring heavyweight titles|
|49||Win||47–2||Ron Lyle||TKO||11 (15), 1:08||May 16, 1975||33 years, 119 days||Las Vegas Convention Center, Winchester, Nevada, U.S.||Retained WBA, WBC, and The Ring heavyweight titles|
|48||Win||46–2||Chuck Wepner||TKO||15 (15), 2:41||Mar 24, 1975||33 years, 66 days||Coliseum, Richfield, Ohio, U.S.||Retained WBA, WBC, and The Ring heavyweight titles|
|47||Win||45–2||George Foreman||KO||8 (15), 2:58||Oct 30, 1974||32 years, 286 days||Stade du 20 Mai, Kinshasa, Zaire||Won WBA, WBC, and The Ring heavyweight titles|
|46||Win||44–2||Joe Frazier||UD||12||Jan 28, 1974||32 years, 11 days||Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.||Retained NABF heavyweight title|
|45||Win||43–2||Rudie Lubbers||UD||12||Oct 20, 1973||31 years, 276 days||Gelora Bung Karno Stadium, Jakarta, Indonesia|
|44||Win||42–2||Ken Norton||SD||12||Sep 10, 1973||31 years, 236 days||The Forum, Inglewood, California, U.S.||Won NABF heavyweight title|
|43||Loss||41–2||Ken Norton||SD||12||Mar 31, 1973||31 years, 73 days||Sports Arena, San Diego, California, U.S.||Lost NABF heavyweight title|
|42||Win||41–1||Joe Bugner||UD||12||Feb 14, 1973||31 years, 28 days||Las Vegas Convention Center, Winchester, Nevada, U.S.|
|41||Win||40–1||Bob Foster||KO||8 (12), 0:40||Nov 21, 1972||30 years, 309 days||Sahara Tahoe, Stateline, Nevada, U.S.||Retained NABF heavyweight title|
|40||Win||39–1||Floyd Patterson||RTD||7 (12), 3:00||Sep 20, 1972||30 years, 247 days||Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.||Retained NABF heavyweight title|
|39||Win||38–1||Alvin Lewis||TKO||11 (12), 1:15||Jul 19, 1972||30 years, 184 days||Croke Park, Dublin, Ireland|
|38||Win||37–1||Jerry Quarry||TKO||7 (12), 0:19||Jun 27, 1972||30 years, 162 days||Las Vegas Convention Center, Winchester, Nevada, U.S.||Retained NABF heavyweight title|
|37||Win||36–1||George Chuvalo||UD||12||May 1, 1972||30 years, 105 days||Pacific Coliseum, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada||Retained NABF heavyweight title|
|36||Win||35–1||Mac Foster||UD||15||Apr 1, 1972||30 years, 75 days||Nippon Budokan, Tokyo, Japan|
|35||Win||34–1||Jürgen Blin||KO||7 (12), 2:12||Dec 26, 1971||29 years, 343 days||Hallenstadion, Zürich, Switzerland|
|34||Win||33–1||Buster Mathis||UD||12||Nov 17, 1971||29 years, 304 days||Astrodome, Houston, Texas, U.S.||Retained NABF heavyweight title|
|33||Win||32–1||Jimmy Ellis||TKO||12 (12), 2:10||Jul 26, 1971||29 years, 190 days||Astrodome, Houston, Texas, U.S.||Won vacant NABF heavyweight title|
|32||Loss||31–1||Joe Frazier||UD||15||Mar 8, 1971||29 years, 50 days||Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.||For WBA, WBC, and The Ring heavyweight titles|
|31||Win||31–0||Oscar Bonavena||TKO||15 (15), 2:03||Dec 7, 1970||28 years, 324 days||Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.||Won vacant NABF heavyweight title|
|30||Win||30–0||Jerry Quarry||RTD||3 (15), 3:00||Oct 26, 1970||28 years, 282 days||Municipal Auditorium, Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.|
|29||Win||29–0||Zora Folley||KO||7 (15), 1:48||Mar 22, 1967||25 years, 64 days||Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.||Retained WBA, WBC, NYSAC, and The Ring heavyweight titles|
|28||Win||28–0||Ernie Terrell||UD||15||Feb 6, 1967||25 years, 20 days||Astrodome, Houston, Texas, U.S.||Retained WBC, NYSAC, and The Ring heavyweight titles;
Won WBA heavyweight title
|27||Win||27–0||Cleveland Williams||TKO||3 (15), 1:08||Nov 14, 1966||24 years, 301 days||Astrodome, Houston, Texas, U.S.||Retained WBC, NYSAC, and The Ring heavyweight titles|
|26||Win||26–0||Karl Mildenberger||TKO||12 (15), 1:30||Sep 10, 1966||24 years, 236 days||Waldstadion, Frankfurt, West Germany||Retained WBC, NYSAC, and The Ring heavyweight titles|
|25||Win||25–0||Brian London||KO||3 (15), 1:40||Aug 6, 1966||24 years, 201 days||Earls Court Exhibition Centre, London, England||Retained WBC, NYSAC, and The Ring heavyweight titles|
|24||Win||24–0||Henry Cooper||TKO||6 (15), 1:38||May 21, 1966||24 years, 124 days||Arsenal Stadium, London, England||Retained WBC, NYSAC, and The Ring heavyweight titles|
|23||Win||23–0||George Chuvalo||UD||15||Mar 29, 1966||24 years, 71 days||Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Canada||Retained WBC, NYSAC, and The Ring heavyweight titles|
|22||Win||22–0||Floyd Patterson||TKO||12 (15), 2:18||Nov 22, 1965||23 years, 309 days||Las Vegas Convention Center, Winchester, Nevada, U.S.||Retained WBC, NYSAC, and The Ring heavyweight titles|
|21||Win||21–0||Sonny Liston||KO||1 (15), 2:12||May 25, 1965||23 years, 128 days||Civic Center, Lewiston, Maine, U.S.||Retained WBC, NYSAC, and The Ring heavyweight titles|
|20||Win||20–0||Sonny Liston||RTD||6 (15), 3:00||Feb 25, 1964||22 years, 39 days||Convention Center, Miami Beach, Florida, U.S.||Won WBA, WBC, NYSAC, and The Ring heavyweight titles|
|19||Win||19–0||Henry Cooper||TKO||5 (10), 2:15||Jun 18, 1963||21 years, 152 days||Wembley Stadium, London, England|
|18||Win||18–0||Doug Jones||UD||10||Mar 13, 1963||21 years, 55 days||Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.|
|17||Win||17–0||Charlie Powell||KO||3 (10), 2:04||Jan 24, 1963||21 years, 7 days||Civic Arena, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.|
|16||Win||16–0||Archie Moore||TKO||4 (10), 1:35||Nov 15, 1962||20 years, 302 days||Memorial Sports Arena, Los Angeles, California, U.S.|
|15||Win||15–0||Alejandro Lavorante||KO||5 (10), 1:48||Jul 20, 1962||20 years, 184 days||Memorial Sports Arena, Los Angeles, California, U.S.|
|14||Win||14–0||Billy Daniels||TKO||7 (10), 2:21||May 19, 1962||20 years, 122 days||St. Nicholas Arena, New York City, New York, U.S.|
|13||Win||13–0||George Logan||TKO||4 (10), 1:34||Apr 23, 1962||20 years, 96 days||Memorial Sports Arena, Los Angeles, California, U.S.|
|12||Win||12–0||Don Warner||TKO||4 (10), 0:34||Feb 28, 1962||20 years, 70 days||Convention Center, Miami Beach, Florida, U.S.|
|11||Win||11–0||Sonny Banks||TKO||4 (10), 0:26||Feb 10, 1962||20 years, 24 days||Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.|
|10||Win||10–0||Willi Besmanoff||TKO||7 (10), 1:55||Nov 29, 1961||19 years, 316 days||Freedom Hall, Louisville, Kentucky, U.S.|
|9||Win||9–0||Alex Miteff||TKO||6 (10), 1:45||Oct 7, 1961||19 years, 263 days||Freedom Hall, Louisville, Kentucky, U.S.|
|8||Win||8–0||Alonzo Johnson||UD||10||Jul 22, 1961||19 years, 186 days||Freedom Hall, Louisville, Kentucky, U.S.|
|7||Win||7–0||Duke Sabedong||UD||10||Jun 26, 1961||19 years, 160 days||Las Vegas Convention Center, Winchester, Nevada, U.S.|
|6||Win||6–0||LaMar Clark||KO||2 (8), 1:27||Apr 19, 1961||19 years, 92 days||Freedom Hall, Louisville, Kentucky, U.S.|
|5||Win||5–0||Donnie Fleeman||RTD||6 (8)||Feb 21, 1961||19 years, 35 days||Municipal Auditorium, Miami Beach, Florida, U.S.|
|4||Win||4–0||Jim Robinson||KO||1 (8), 1:34||Feb 7, 1961||19 years, 21 days||Convention Center, Miami Beach, Florida, U.S.|
|3||Win||3–0||Tony Esperti||TKO||3 (8), 1:30||Jan 17, 1961||19 years, 0 days||Municipal Auditorium, Miami Beach, Florida, U.S.|
|2||Win||2–0||Herb Siler||TKO||4 (8), 1:00||Dec 27, 1960||18 years, 345 days||Municipal Auditorium, Miami Beach, Florida, U.S.|
|1||Win||1–0||Tunney Hunsaker||UD||6||Oct 29, 1960||18 years, 286 days||Freedom Hall, Louisville, Kentucky, U.S.|
Images for kids
President Jimmy Carter greets Ali at a White House dinner, 1977
Ali (seen in background) at an address by Elijah Muhammad in 1964
President George W. Bush embraces Ali after presenting him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005, during ceremonies at the White House
The Muhammad Ali Center, alongside Interstate 64 on Louisville, Kentucky's riverfront