World Heavyweight Champion Boxer
(1942 - present)
Born Cassius Clay on January 17, 1942 in Louisville, Kentucky, Muhammad Ali is easily one of the most recognized figures in boxing history. Fighting as Clay, he experienced early success by winning the gold medal in the light heavyweight division at the 1960 Rome Olympics. In 1963, he converted to the Islamic religion and officially changed his name to Muhammad Ali. As a professional, Ali stunned the boxing world with a knock-out of then world heavyweight champ Sonny Liston. In 1967, after nine successful title defenses, Ali was stripped of his title and banned from boxing in the U.S. because he refused to serve in the U.S. military in Vietnam due to his religious beliefs. Three and a half years later, Ali was vindicated by the Supreme Court, and he began his comeback. Two of his biggest fights were with Joe Frazier in which he suffered his first loss, but redeemed himself in the rematch. Ali went on to win the heavyweight title two more times, making him the first heavyweight to ever hold that title three times. On October 2, 1980 his loss to Larry Holmes ended his boxing career. Although retired, Muhammad Ali is still recognized around the world as "The Greatest."