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Ali, Muhammad 1942–

Muhammad Ali 1942

Professional boxer

At a Glance

Float Like a Butterfly

Inspired by Religion

Stripped of Title

Ignored Warnings About Neurological Damage

Life After Boxing

Selected writings

Sources

Three-time world heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali, known for his lyrical charm and boasts as much as for his powerful fists, has moved far beyond the boxing ring in both influence and purpose. Ali won an Olympic gold medal and later tossed it into a river because he was disgusted by racism in America. As a young man he was recruited by Malcolm X to join the Nation of Islam. He refused to serve in Vietnama professional fighter willing to serve time in jail for his pacifist ideals. He has contributed to countless, diverse charities and causes. And his later years have found him interested in world politics as he has battled to keep Parkinsons disease at bay.

Muhammad Ali was born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr., on January 17, 1942, and was raised in a clapboard house at 3302 Grand Avenue in middle-class Louisville, Kentucky. He began boxing at the age of 12. A white Louisville patrolman named Joe Martin, who had an early television show called Tomorrows Champions, started Ali working out in Louisvilles Columbia Gym, but it was a black trainer named Fred Stoner who taught Ali the science of boxing. Stoner taught him to move with the grace of a dancer, and impressed upon him the subtle skills necessary to move beyond good and into the realm of great.

After winning an Olympic gold medal at 18, Ali signed the most lucrative contracta 50-50 splitnegotiated by a beginning professional in the history of boxing, with a 12-member group of millionaires called the Louisville Sponsoring Group. Later, he worked his way into contention for the coveted heavyweight title shot by boasting and creating media interest at a time when, by his own admission, he was only ranked number nine on the list of contenders. Even from the beginning, it was clear that Ali was his own man-quick, strong-willed, original, and witty. In 1961 he told Sports Illustrateds Gilbert Rogin, Boxing is dying because everybodys so quiet. What boxing needs is more Clays. Ali knew that his rhymes and press-grabbing claims would infuse more interest and more money into the sport of boxing, and he was his own best public relations man. In February of 1964 he told readers of Sports Illustrated, If I were like a lot of heavy weight boxers you wouldnt be reading this story right now. If you wonder what the difference between them and me is, Ill break the news: you never heard of them. Im not saying theyre not good boxers. Most of

At a Glance

Born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr.; name changed to Muhammad Ali, 1963; born January, 17, 1942, in Louisville, KY; son of Cassius (a piano player) and Odessa Clay (both deceased); first wife, Belinda; second wife Aaisha; third wife, Veronica Porche; fourth (and current) wife, Yolanda Williams, married in 1986; children: nine (one with Yolanda); Religion: Muslim.

Former world heavyweight boxing champion. Began professional career, 1960; initially became heavyweight champ, 1964; stripped of title and boxing license over refusal to participate in the Vietnam War, 1966; retired from boxing, 1981 Appeared in film The Greatest, 1976, and television film Freedom Road

Selected honors and awards; Olympic Gold Medal in boxing, 1960; six Kentucky Golden Gloves titles; National Golden Gloves titles, 1959-60; World Heavyweight Championship, 1964-67, 1974-78, 1978-79; U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame, inductee, 1983; Named the greatest heavyweight champion of all time, Ring Magazine, 1987; International Boxing Hall of Fame, inductee, 1990; Jim Thorpe Pro Sports Award, Lifetime Achievement, 1992; Muhammad Ali Museum, Louisville Galleria, opened 1995; Essence Award, 1997.

Addresses: HomeP.O. Box 187, Berrien Springs, Ml 59103.

them can fight almost as good as I can. Im just saying you never heard of them. And the reason for that is because they cannot throw the jive. Cassius Clay is a boxer who can throw the jive better than anybody.

Float Like a Butterfly

The following month Alithen still Cassius Clayfought Sonny Liston in a match of classic contenders for the heavyweight championship of the world. The Miami fight almost single-handedly restored intelligence and balance to boxing. Cassius Clay had been chanting the war cry Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee for weeks; he beat Liston in a display of beautiful, controlled boxing. Liston could hit with deadly power, but Ali utilized his skills and courage with forethought and aplomb. He won the fight to become heavyweight champion of the world. At the tender age of 22 Ali knew that he was something above and beyond a great boxer: He had marketing sense, political finesse, and a feeling of noble purpose.

Throughout his career and life, Ali has always professed to want to help other black Americansand he has, time and time again. When he returned from Italy, having just won an Olympic gold medal, he was so proud of his trophy that he wore it day and night and showed it to everyone, whether they wanted to see it or not. In the Philadelphia Inquirer Alis first wife remembered him saying I was young, black Cassius Marcellus Clay, who had won a gold medal for his country. I went to downtown Louisville to a five-and-dime store that had a soda fountain. I sat down at the counter to order a burger and soda pop. The waitress looked at me. Sorry, we dont serve coloreds, she said. I was furious. I went all the way to Italy to represent my country, won a gold medal, and now I come back to America and cant even get served at a five-and-dime store. I went to a bridge, tore the medal off my neck and threw it into the river. That gold medal didnt mean a thing to me if my black brothers and sisters were treated wrong in a country I was supposed to represent.

Inspired by Religion

While in Miami, at the age of 21, Ali was inspired by human rights activist Malcolm X to become a member of the Muslim faith. The following year Malcolm X said of Ali, as was quoted by Houston Horn in Sports Illustrated, [He] will mean more to his people than any athlete before him. He is more than [first black major-league baseball player] Jackie Robinson was, because Robinson is the white mans hero. But Cassius is the black mans hero. Do you know why? Because the white press wanted him to lose [his heavyweight championship bout] because he is a Muslim. You notice nobody cares about the religion of other athletes. But their prejudice against Clay blinded them to his ability. Twelve years later, on Face The Nation, Ali said We dont have Black Muslims, thats a press word. We have white brothers, we have brown, red, and yellow, all colors can be Muslims. Im looking for peace one day with all people. Cassius Clay, Jr., was given the name Muhammad Ali by Muslim patriarch Elijah Muhammad; it was not just a name, but a title meaning beloved of Allah, deity of the Muslim faith.

Ali retained his world heavyweight champion title in June of 1965 by again knocking out Sonny Liston, this time with a stunning right-hand punch to the side of the head. The knock-out blow was thrown with the astounding speed that separated Ali from other heavyweights; it had sufficient force to lift Listons left footupon which most of his weight was restingclear off the canvas.

As a Muslim and thus, a conscientious objector, Muhammad Ali refused to even consider going to Vietnam in 1966; a tremendous public outcry erupted against him. According to Jack Olsen in Sports Illustrated. The governor of Illinois found Clay disgusting, and the governor of Maine said Clay should be held in utter contempt by every patriotic American. An American Legion post in Miami asked people to join in condemnation of this unpatriotic, loudmouthed, bombastic individual. The Chicago Tribune waged a choleric campaign against holding the next Clay fight in Chicago. The noise became a din, the drumbeats of a holy war. TV and radio commentators, little old ladies bookmakers, and parish priests, armchair strategists at the Pentagon and politicians all over the place joined in a crescendo of get-Cassius clamor.

Stripped of Title

Although Ali had not been charged or arrested for violating the Selective Service Actmuch less convictedthe New York State Athletic Commission and World Boxing Association suspended his boxing license and stripped him of his heavyweight title in May of 1967, minutes after he officially announced that he would not submit to induction. Ali said to Sports Illustrated contributor Edwin Shrake, Im giving up my title, my wealth, maybe my future. Many great men have been tested for their religious beliefs. If I pass this test, Ill come out stronger than ever. Eventually Ali was sentenced to five years in prison, released on appeal, and his conviction overturned three years later.

In November of 1970 Ali fought Jerry Quarry in Atlanta. His victory was a symbol of release and freedom to the 5,000 people watching the fight; Ali had personally survived his vilification by much of the American public, but more, he had reclaimed his professional reputation and prominence. Four months later Ali had the world as his audience when he went up against Joe Frazier in Manila. There he fell from invincibility; suddenly Frazier reigned as heavyweight champ. Man, I hit him with punches thatd bring down the walls of a city, Frazier said to Mark Kram in Sports Illustrated Ali responded, It was like death. Closest thing to dyin that I know of. On September 10, 1973, Frazier won a rematch with Ken Norton and continued to reign as heavyweight champion. Returning with a vengeance, however, Ali fought Frazier again in 1974, won the match, and replaced his competitor as the world heavweight champion. Ali fought Frazier once again in October of 1975, won that match, and secured his title. Taking time to reflect on the tumult of his fifteen-year boxing career, Ali co-wrote his autobiographycharacteristically titled The Greatest My Own Story in 1975.

In 1982 Dr. Dennis Cope, director of the Medical Ambulatory Care Center at the University of California, Los Angeles, began treating Ali for Parkinsons syndrome; Cope and colleague Dr. Stanley Fahn later theorized in the Chicago Tribune that Ali was suffering, more precisely, from Pugilistic Parkinsonism, brought on by repetitive trauma to the headand that only an autopsy could confirm their suspicions. After losing a 1980 title bout to Larry Holmes, Ali had exhibited sluggishness and was misdiagnosed as having a thyroid condition; he was given a thyroid hormone. When Dr. Cope made the connection between Alis decreasing motor skills and Parkinsons disease, he prescribed Sinemet (L-dopa). Ali was shortly restored to his previous level of energy and awareness; as long as he took his medication regularly, he was able to keep the disease in check. In 1988 Ali told New York Times Magazine contributor Peter Tauber: Ive got Parkinsons syndrome. Im in no pain. If I was in perfect healthif I had won my last two fightsif I had no problem, people would be afraid of me. Now they feel sorry for me. They thought I was Superman. Now they can say Hes human, like us. He has problems.

Ignored Warnings About Neurological Damage

In 1984 another of Alis medical confidantes, Dr. Martin D. Ecker, ventured in the Boston Globe that Ali should have quit boxing long before he finally didfor the second and final timein 1981 after losing to Trevor Berbick. His bout with Berbick was his 61st and final fight. By then Ali had been showing signs of neurological damage for over a year. Alis former doctor, Dr. Ferdie Pacheco, told the fighter to quit in 1977 when he first saw signs of Alis reflexes slowing down. Seven years later, Pacheco, a consultant and boxing commentator for NBC-TV, explained to Betsy Lehman in the Boston Globe why he feels Ali didnt quit boxing in 1977: The most virulent infection in the human race is the standing ovation. Once youve seen that, you cant get off the stage. Once you feel that recognition the roar of 50,000 people, you just dont want to give it up. When Ali initially surrendered his title in 1979, he was paid $250,000 to quit, but he eventually returned to his sport, perhaps as Pacheco suggested, because the recognition had become habit-forming.

Toward the end of Alis boxing career, and afterward, his ambitions took a decided turn toward statesmanship. In 1980 he cast his lot with the Democratic Party, supporting then-Presidential candidate Jimmy Carter. In August of that year, while in intense training for the Holmes fight, he found time to work the floor of the Democratic National Convention in New York City. He also functioned as something of a diplomat in February of 1985 when he attempted to secure the release of four kidnapped Americans in Lebanon; unfortunately, he and his three advisers were not successful.

During his career in the ring Ali made more than $50 million, two thirds of which went to managerial expenses and taxes. He said to New York Times Magazine contributor Tauber in 1988, I never talk about boxing. It just served its purpose. I was only about 11 or 12 years old when I said Im gonna get famous so I can help my people. Indicating his continuing desire to help people, in 1990 Ali visited Our Childrens Foundation, Inc., on Manhattans 125th Street. According to Bill Gallo in the New York Daily News, he addressed the children there, saying, The sun has a purpose. The moon has a purpose. The snow has a purpose. Cows have a purpose. You were born for a purpose. You have to find your purpose. Go to school. Learn to read and write. What is your purpose, your occupation? Find your purpose. What do you have to find? Purpose!, they shouted gleefully in unison. True to form, one of Alis favored inscriptions when signing autographs is Love is the net where hearts are caught like fish.

Life After Boxing

Although Parkinsons syndrome has slowed Ali down, he still remain activeraising money for the Muhammad Ali Foundation and frequently appearing at sports tributes and fund-raisers. Muhammads wife Lonnie believes Muhammad knows he has this illness for a reason. Its not by chance. Parkinsons disease has made him a more spiritual person. Muhammad believes God gave it to him to bring him to another level, to create another destiny. she stated in People.

During the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, 3.5 billion people watched on television as three-time heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali slowly ascended the stadium steps with trembling hands to ignite the Olympic Flame. Everyone was deeply touched, however, No one was more moved than Ali himself. He kept turning it [the torch] in his hands and looking at it. He knows now that people wont slight his message because of his impairment. said his wife Lonnie in People.

Muhammad has been blessed to meet with important dignitaries, including with President Clinton, Queen Elizabeth II, Nelson Mandela, and Pope John Paul II. His travels are his main source of incomecharging as much as $200,000 for appearances. He usually travels 275 days out of the year. Although he enjoys his missionary work and public appearances, Alis greatest pleasure is when he is at home in Berrien Springs, Michigan with his familywife Yolanda and his adopted son Asaad Amin.

In Berrien Springs, he lives a modest life in a house at the end of the road on an old farm. He has a pool and a pond and a security gate with an intercom. According to Kim Forburger, Alis assistant, Hes the only man I know where the kids come to the gate and say Can Muhammad come out and play?

When asked if he has any regrets?, Ali responds, My children, I never got to raise them because I was always boxing and because of divorce, he said in People. When asked is he sorry he ever got into the ring?, he responded, If I wasnt a boxer, I wouldnt be famous. If I wasnt famous, I wouldnt be able to do what Im doing now.

Selected writings

(With Richard Durham) The Greatest: My Own Story, Random House, 1975.

Sources

Atlanta Journal and Constitution, December 13, 1988.

Boston Globe, October 1, 1984.

Chicago Tribune, October 9, 1984.

Ebony, April 1969.

Face the Nation (transcript of CBS-TV program), May 2, 1976.

Newsweek, June 22, 1987.

New York Daily News, February 2, 1989.

New York Post, July 14, 1987.

New York Times Magazine, July 17, 1988.

People, Jan 13, 1997, p. 40.

Philadelphia Inquirer, August 12, 1990.

Spin, October 1991.

Sports Illustrated, December 20, 1976; April 25, 1988.

Washington Post, June 9, 1991.

Whos Who among African Americans, 10th edition, Gale Research, 1997.

B. Kimberly Taylor

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Ali, Muhammad

Muhammad Ali

1942-

American boxer

His nickname, "The Greatest," almost says it all. The fact that it was self-anointed says the rest. Today, Muhammad Ali is the universally admired three-time heavyweight champion, lauded by boxing fans and civil rights leaders, both in America and throughout the world. He is remembered respectfully as the man of principle who threw away his Olympic medal in disgust at racism and who almost threw away his career when he refused to fight an unjust war in Vietnam. He is remembered fondly for his prowess in the ring and his consummate showmanship before the matches. He is an authentic American hero, struggling valiantly in his greatest battle, against Parkinson's Disease. When he was in his prime, he sparked as much controversy as affection. He was an angry Black Muslim and student of the radical Malcolm X, who was almost sent to jail for his views. The transformation of Ali is a remarkable testament to the man and his inner strength.

A Stolen Bicycle

Muhammad Ali was born Cassius Marcellus Clay on January 17, 1942, in Louisville, Kentucky. Unlike most future champions, his parents, Cassius and Odessa (Grady) Clay, were middle-class and he lived in the respectable part of town. His father was a sign and mural painter, and his mother was a domestic. Sundays, the family, including younger brother Rudolph (now Rahaman Ali), would troop to the Mount Zion Baptist Church, and weekdays he attended DuValle Junior High School, and then Central High School. Ali was never a good student, and he confessed in later years that he has always been a slow reader.

At the age of 12, a curious incident set young Cassius Clay on a new path. On an October afternoon he rode his new bike to the Columbia Auditorium. Later, when he went back to get it, it had been stolen. Someone told him there was a police officer in the basement, so Clay went down there. The basement turned out to be a boxing gymthe officer, Joe Martin, was a boxing enthusiast with his own gym. After listening to his volley of threats against whoever stole the bike, Martin invited him to come around to his gym and learn something about boxing.

Six weeks after he started training with Joe Martin, Clay fought and won his first bout. Over the next few years of his training, Martin became more and more impressed, not only with Clay's speed and strength, but even more by his mental quickness and his ability to take a punch without the twin dangers of getting mad or going into a panic. In high school, Clay became a very successful amateur boxer, winning six Kentucky Golden Gloves Championships and two nationals. By the time he graduated, he had 100 wins and only 8 losses. Throughout the 1950s, he also appeared on a local television program Tomorrow's Champions. He was paid four dollars for each televised match. Then, shortly after graduation, he won a gold medal at the 1960 Rome Olympics in light-heavy-weight boxing. He decided to turn pro.

The Louisville Lip

Almost immediately, Clay signed one of the most lucrative contracts in boxing history, which guaranteed a 50/50 split in his earnings with eleven Kentucky millionaires

known as the Louisville Sponsoring Group. He hired Angelo Dundee as his first professional trainer, and easily dispatched his opponent, Tunney Hunsacker, in his first professional match, on October 29, 1960. The purse was $2,000. Over the next 4 years he fought and won 19 professional matches, but it wasn't this alone that made him a heavyweight contender.

Early on, Cassius Clay mastered the fine art of publicity. At the Olympics he began inventing rhymes that predicted how he would do in a match, and he brought this skill home with him. Before long he was something of a media darling, dismissed by some as "The Louisville Lip," but always good for sports copy. He understood the value of that attention, and as he told Sports Illustrated in 1964, "If you wonder what the difference between [other boxers] and me is, I'll break the news: you never heard of them. I'm not saying they're not good boxers. I'm just saying you never heard of them." Before long, people were clamoring for a Cassius Clay shot at the heavyweight title.

Before long, Sonny Liston bowed to the pressure and agreed to fight Clay in Miami. In the weeks leading up to the match, Clay turned up the volume on the traditional hype, rhyming and hurling insults at Liston. About this time, he began using the chant "float like a butterfly, sting like a bee." And on February 25, 1964, backed up his talk by defeating the "unbeatable" Sonny Liston. At 22, Cassius Clay was the World Heavyweight Champion

A Controversial Champ

Something else happened in Miami in 1964. Inspired by Malcolm X, Cassius Clay joined the Nation of Islam, and renounced his "slave name" in favor of Muhammad Ali, "Beloved of Allah." The name had been personally bestowed upon him by Elijah Muhammad, founder of the Nation of Islam. Realizing how this would affect people's view of him, he kept his conversion secret before the match, fearing the news might cost him his shot at the title. But soon after the fight, he went public with the news.

For many Americans this seemed like some kind of betrayal. Black Muslims were often feared and hated, as radicals, as dangerous, as un-American. And now the heavyweight champ, the beloved Cassius Clay was one of them. Or rather Muhammad Ali, a name that sounded foreign, maybe subversive, to Americans in the 1960s. And then Muhammad Ali came out against the Vietnam War, refusing to even consider going over there if he was drafted.

Ali's remarks caused a national uproar. In April of 1967, when he refused induction into the U.S. Army, on religious grounds, politicians and veterans groups called for his imprisonment. In fact, he was arrested and ultimately sentenced to five years in prison, but he was freed pending appeal. Then boxing officialdom stepped in. The World Boxing Association stripped him of his heavyweight title, and the New York State Athletic Commission banned him from boxing. Every other state commission soon joined them. Muhammad Ali was suddenly out of a title and out of a job.

In and Out of the Wilderness

For three-and-a-half years, Muhammad Ali endured the public outcry and the loss of his livelihood, and numerous death threats, while his case wound through the courts. He managed to support himself by public speaking engagements on college campuses. Finally, in June of 1970, the Supreme Court reversed his draft-dodging conviction on a technicality. In September of that same year the NAACP successfully sued the New York State Athletic Commission for the restoration of Ali's boxing license.

Chronology

1942 Born Cassius Marcellus Clay, January 17, in Louisville, Kentucky
1954 Begins boxing
1960 Wins gold medal, Rome Olympics, light-heavyweight boxing
1960 First professional boxing match, defeats Tunney Hunsacker, October 29
1963 Converts to Islam, inspired by Malcolm X
1964 Takes World Heavyweight Championship from Sonny Liston
1964 Announces name change, to Muhammad Ali
1964 Marries Sonji Roi
1966 Divorces Sonji
1966 Refuses to go to Vietnam
1967 Stripped of boxing license and heavyweight title by New York State Athletic Commission and World Boxing Association, May
1967 Convicted of draft-dodging, sentenced to five years in prison (but released on appeal)
1967 Marries Belinda Boyd
1970 Conviction overturned
1970 Returns to the ring, against Jerry Quarry, November
1971 Loses to Joe Frazier in title match, February
1974 Beats Joe Frazier in rematch, becomes World Heavyweight Champion again
1974 Defeats George Foreman in "Rumble in the Jungle" to become World Heavyweight Champion again
1975 Defeats Joe Frazier again in "Thrilla in Manilla," often considered the greatest boxing match ever
1976 Divorces Belinda
1977 Marries Veronica Proche
1978 Loses title to Leon Spinks
1978 Reclaims title from Leon Spinks in rematch
1979 Retires from professional boxing
1980 Returns to professional boxing, loses to Larry Holmes in WBC title match
1981 In last professional boxing match, loses to Trevor Berbick
1982 Diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease
1985 Visits Lebanon in attempt to secure release of hostages, February
1985 Founds World Organization for Right, Liberty and Dignity (WORLD)
1985 Divorces Veronica
1986 Marries Yolanda "Lonnie" Williams
1990 Visits Iraq in successful attempt to secure release of American hostages
1996 Chosen to light Olympic Torch in Atlanta
2000 Wins WBA title from John Ruiz
2001 Establishes Muhammad Ali Center, Louisville, Kentucky

Awards and Accomplishments

1959 National Golden Gloves Light Heavyweight Champion
1959 National Amateur Athletic Union champion
1960 National Golden Gloves Light Heavyweight Champion
1960 National Amateur Athletic Union champion
1960 Gold medal, Rome Olympics, light-heavyweight boxing
1964-67 World Heavyweight Champion
1970 Dr. Martin Luther King Memorial Award
1974 Sportsman of the Year, Sports Illustrated
1974 Fighter of the Year, Boxing Writers Association
1974-78 World Heavyweight Champion
1978-79 World Heavyweight Champion
1979 Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters, Texas Southern Univesity
1979 Street named after him in Louisville, Kentucky
1985 Recognized for long, meritorious service, World Boxing Association
1987 Elected to Boxing Hall of Fame
1990 Inducted into International Boxing Hall of Fame
1996 Lights Olympic torch, Atlanta
1997 Arthur Ashe Award for Courage, ESPN
1997 Essence Living Legend Award

It was a heady victory, and the beginning of a long climb that would make Muhammad Ali a national hero once again. In November, 1970, in Atlanta, he fought his first professional match in almost four years, knocking out Jerry Quarry in the third round. In March of 1971,

he returned to New York to fight Joe Frazier , who had risen to the world heavyweight championship in Ali's absence. The fight between the two "champions" was long anticipated, and both were promised an unprecedented $2.5 million. After a long and bruising battle, Joe Frazier knocked Muhammad Ali down in the fifteenth round. Ali managed to get up from the staggering blow, but he lost the match on points. It was Ali's first defeat as a professional boxer.

On January 28, 1974, Ali returned to Madison Square Garden for a rematch with Joe Frazier. By this time, Frazier had lost the crown and Ali had been beaten once again, by Ken Norton. But the fight was highly anticipated by boxing fans. Again, it was a grueling match, with both men taking a lot of punishment. But this time the decision went to Muhammad Ali, who had earned his shot against the new champion, George Foreman .

In one of the biggest spectacles in boxing history, Muhammad Ali and George Foreman met in Kinshasha, Zaire, for the "Rumble in the Jungle." The very air of Africa seemed to give Ali a lift, and wherever he went, enthusiastic crowds followed him. The setting had the opposite effect on George Foreman, in those days known as "the surly champ." The fight took place on October 30, 1974, before 60,000 spectators and millions of payper-view customers. Most experts expected Ali to fall to the legendary Foreman punch, but after absorbing blows for six rounds, Muhammad Ali sent an exhausted George Foreman to the mat in the eighth round. Muhammad Ali was back on top.

The next year, in September of 1975, after easily besting such lesser lights as the "Bayonne Bleeder," Ali met Frazier one last time, for the "Thrilla in Manilla." Many look back on this as the finest boxing match in history. As Gerald Suster wrote in Champions of the Ring, "In the first five rounds, Ali did enough to stop or even kill any strong heavyweight. In the succeeding five rounds, Frazier broke through Ali's guard to pound him to the body and whack him to the head, in turn doing enough to stop or even kill any strong heavyweight." Finally, in the 11th round, Frazier's trainer, Eddie Futch, threw in the towel. Afterwards, a number of fans signed a petition asking that these two never fight each other again, so brutal had it been.

Later Years

Although this moment might have been a good time to retire, Ali soldiered on. In 1978 Leon Spinks took the title away, but later that year Ali reclaimed it, making him a three-times champion. Finally, on June 26, 1979, Ali retired from professional boxing at the age of 37. His retirement did not last long. Ali had grown used to a very lavish and lifestyle and within a few years his fortune had dwindled. So in 1980 Ali returned to the ring, battling Larry Holmes for the World Boxing Council title with a guaranteed purse of $8 million. Holmes won a technical knockout in the eleventh round. A year later, Ali lost to Trevor Burdick. This time he retired for good, at the age of 40.

By this time, Ali was suffering from Parkinson's Disease. After the Holmes fight, people had noticed a change in Ali's health. At first he'd been misdiagnosed with a thyroid condition, but in 1982, the Parkinson's diagnosis was confirmed by medical tests. Doctors speculated that he might have contracted the illness from too many blows to the head. It was a sad revelation for Ali, but he was grateful that the disease was not contagious, so he could continue to have contact with his many fans throughout the world.

Ali's other interests have included painting, originally inspired by his father, and in 1979 he put on a oneman show of his works. He has also been called upon to perform diplomatic missionsin 1980, he toured Africa in an attempt to drum up support for President Carter's boycott of the Moscow Olympics. In 1985 he traveled to Lebanon in an unsuccessful attempt to secure the release of U.S. hostages, and in 1990 he traveled to Baghdad, Iraq, on a similar mission, this time successfully. In 1996, he was chosen to light the torch at the Atlanta Olympics, after carrying it for the last lap.

With so much focus on his boxing career and the pressures of his public life, Ali has not always had the calmest private life. He has been divorced three times, and he currently lives with his fourth wife, Lonnie. Much to her father's displeasure, his daughter Leila has followed Ali's footsteps into the boxing ring.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Address: P.O. Box 187, Berrien Springs, MI 59103.

Where Is He Now?

Today, Muhammad Ali is a world-renowned celebrity, who has weathered the storms of terrible controversies and emerged as a national icon. Even the greatest modern boxers live in his shadow. At the same time, he stands as a symbol of principle in the face of adversity, a crusader for civil rights who risked everything to maintain his religious freedom and his right to dissent from U.S. government policy. Even while struggling against Parkinson's Disease, which plays havoc with his speech and coordination, he continues to travel around the world, most recently as a UN peace envoy to Afghanistan. He has also worked at establishing the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville, a non-private community center, which is scheduled to open in 2003.

SELECTED WRITINGS BY ALI:

(With Richard Durham) The Greatest: My Own Story, New York: Random House, 1975.

FURTHER INFORMATION

Books

Ali, Muhammad and Richard Durham. The Greatest: My Own Story. New York: Random House, 1975.

Cottrell, John. The Story of Muhammad Ali, Who Once Was Cassius Clay. London: Muller, 1967.

Hauser, Thomas. Muhammad Ali: His Life and Times. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1992.

Olsen, Jack. Black is Best: The Riddle of Cassius Clay. New York: Putnam, 1967.

Remnick, David. King of the World. New York: Random House, 1998.

Suster, Gerald. Champions of the Ring. London: Robson Books, 1994.

Sketch by Robert Winters

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Ali, Muhammad 1942–

Muhammad Ali 1942

Former heavyweight boxing champion

At a Glance

Inspired by Religion

Stripped of Title

Ignored Warnings About Neurological Damage

Selected writings

Sources

Three-time world heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali, known for his lyrical charm and boasts as much as for his powerful fists, has moved far beyond the boxing ring in both influence and purpose. Ali won an Olympic gold medal for the United States but was later a witness to bitter racism in his own country. As a young man he was recruited by Malcolm X to join the Nation of Islam. He refused to serve in Vietnama professional fighter willing to serve time in jail for his pacifist ideals. He has contributed to countless, diverse charities and causes. And his later years have found him interested in world politics as he has battled to keep Parkinsons disease at bay.

Muhammad Ali was born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr., on January 17, 1942, and was raised in a clapboard house in middle-class Louisville, Kentucky. Known as a shy and somewhat old-fashioned youth, he began boxing at the age of 12. A white Louisville patrolman named Joe Martin, who trained local amateur boxers, started Ali working out in Louisvilles Columbia Gym, but it was a black trainer named Fred Stoner who taught Ali the science of boxing. Stoner taught him to move with the grace of a dancer, and impressed upon him the subtle skills necessary to move beyond good and into the realm of great.

After winning an Olympic gold medal at 18, Ali signed the most lucrative contracta 50-50 splitnegotiated by a beginning professional in the history of boxing, with a 12-member group of millionaires called the Louisville Sponsoring Group. Later, he worked his way into contention for the coveted heavyweight title shot by boasting and creating media interest at a time when, by his own admission, he was only ranked number nine on the list of contenders. Even from the beginning, it was clear that Ali was his own manquick, strong-willed, original, and witty. In 1961 he told Sports Illustrateds Gilbert Rogin, Boxing is dying because everybodys so quiet. What boxing needs is more Clays. Ali knew that his rhymes and press-grabbing claims would infuse more interest and more money into the sport of boxing, and he was his own best public relations man. In February of 1964 he told readers of Sports Illustrated, If I were like a lot of heavyweight boxers you wouldnt be reading this story right now. If you wonder what the difference between them and me is, Ill break the news: you never heard of them. Im not saying theyre not good

At a Glance

Born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr.; name changed to Muhammad Ali, 1963; born January, 17, 1942, in Louisville, KY; son of Cassius (a piano player) and Odessa Clay; first wife named Belinda; second wife named Aaisha; married Veronica Porche; married Yolanda Williams, 1986; children: (third marriage) Hana, Laila; three others. Religion: Muslim.

Former world heavyweight boxing champion. Began professional career, 1960; initially became heavyweight champ, 1964; stripped of title and boxing license over refusal to participate in the Vietnam War, 1966; retired from boxing, 1981. Appeared in film The Greatest, 1976, and television film Freedom Road.

Awards: Olympic Gold Medal in boxing, 1960; six Kentucky Golden Gloves titles; National Golden Gloves titles, 1959-60; world heavyweight championship, 1964-67, 1974-78, 1978-79.

Addresses: HomeDeer Park, Ml.

boxers. Most of them can fight almost as good as I can. Im just saying you never heard of them. And the reason for that is because they cannot throw the jive. Cassius Clay is a boxer who can throw the jive better than anybody.

The following month Alithen still Cassius Clayfought Sonny Liston in a match of classic contenders for the heavyweight championship of the world. The Miami fight almost single-handedly restored intelligence and balance to boxing. Cassius Clay had been chanting the war cry Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee for weeks; he beat Liston in a display of beautiful, controlled boxing. Liston could hit with deadly power, but Ali utilized his skills and courage with forethought and aplomb. He won the fight to become heavyweight champion of the world. At the tender age of 22 Ali knew that he was something above and beyond a great boxer: He had marketing sense, political finesse, and a feeling of noble purpose.

Throughout his career and life, Ali has always professed to want to help other black Americansand he has, time and time again. When he returned from Italy, having just won an Olympic gold medal, he was so proud of his trophy that he wore it day and night and showed it to everyone, whether they wanted to see it or not. In the Philadelphia Inquirer Alis first wife remembered him saying I was young, black Cassius Marcellus Clay, who had won a gold medal for his country. I went to downtown Louisville to a five-and-dime store that had a soda fountain. I sat down at the counter to order a burger and soda pop. The waitress looked at me. Sorry, we dont serve coloreds, she said. I was furious. I went all the way to Italy to represent my country, won a gold medal, and now I come back to America and cant even get served at a five-and-dime store. That gold medal didnt mean a thing to me if my black brothers and sisters were treated wrong in a country I was supposed to represent.

Inspired by Religion

While in Miami, at the age of 21, Ali was inspired by human rights activist Malcolm X to become a member of the Muslim faith. The following year Malcolm X said of Ali, as quoted by Houston Horn in Sports Illustrated, [He] will mean more to his people than any athlete before him. He is more than [first black major-league baseball player] Jackie Robinson was, because Robinson is the white mans hero. But Cassius is the black mans hero. Do you know why? Because the white press wanted him to lose [his heavyweight championship bout] because he is a Muslim. You notice nobody cares about the religion of other athletes. But their prejudice against Clay blinded them to his ability. Twelve years later, on Face The Nation, Ali said We dont have Black Muslims, thats a press word. We have white brothers, we have brown, red, and yellow, all colors can be Muslims. Im looking for peace one day with all people. Cassius Clay, Jr., was given the name Muhammad Ali by Muslim patriarch Elijah Muhammad; it was not just a name, but a title meaning beloved of Allah, deity of the Muslim faith.

Ali retained his world heavyweight champion title in June of 1965 by again knocking out Sonny Liston, this time with a stunning right-hand punch to the side of the head. The knock-out blow was thrown with the astounding speed that separated Ali from other heavyweights; it had sufficient force to lift Listons left footupon which most of his weight was restingclear off the canvas.

As a Muslim and thus, a conscientious objector, Muhammad Ali refused to even consider going to Vietnam in 1966; a tremendous public outcry erupted against him. According to Jack Olsen in Sports Illustrated, The governor of Illinois found Clay disgusting, and the governor of Maine said Clay should be held in utter contempt by every patriotic American. An American Legion post in Miami asked people to join in condemnation of this unpatriotic, loudmouthed, bombastic individual. The Chicago Tribune waged a choleric campaign against holding the next Clay fight in Chicago. The noise became a din, the drumbeats of a holy war. TV and radio commentators, little old ladies bookmakers, and parish priests, armchair strategists at the Pentagon and politicians all over the place joined in a crescendo of get-Cassius clamor.

Stripped of Title

Although Ali had not been charged or arrested for violating the Selective Service Actmuch less convictedthe New York State Athletic Commission and World Boxing Association suspended his boxing license and stripped him of his heavyweight title in May of 1967, minutes after he officially announced that he would not submit to induction. Ali said to Sports Illustrated contributor Edwin Shrake, Im giving up my title, my wealth, maybe my future. Many great men have been tested for their religious beliefs. If I pass this test, Ill come out stronger than ever. Eventually Ali was sentenced to five years in prison, released on appeal, and his conviction overturned three years later.

In November of 1970 Ali fought Jerry Quarry in Atlanta. His victory was a symbol of release and freedom to the 5,000 people watching the fight; Ali had personally survived his vilification by much of the American public, but more, he had reclaimed his professional reputation and prominence. Four months later Ali had the world as his audience when he went up against Joe Frazier in Manila. There he fell from invincibility; suddenly Frazier reigned as heavyweight champ. Man, I hit him with punches thatd bring down the walls of a city, Frazier said to Mark Kram in Sports Illustrated. Ali responded, It was like death. Closest thing to dyin that I know of. On September 10, 1973, Frazier won a rematch with Ken Norton and continued to reign as heavyweight champion. Returning with a vengeance, however, Ali fought Frazier again in 1974, won the match, and replaced his competitor as the world heavweight champion. Ali fought Frazier once again in October of 1975, won that match, and secured his title. Taking time to reflect on the tumult of his fifteen-year boxing career, Ali co-wrote his autobiographycharacteristically titled The Greatest My Own Story in 1975.

In 1982 Dr. Dennis Cope, director of the Medical Ambulatory Care Center at the University of California, Los Angeles, began treating Ali for Parkinsons syndrome; Cope and colleague Dr. Stanley Fahn later theorized in the Chicago Tribune that Ali was suffering, more precisely, from Pugilistic Parkinsonism, brought on by repetitive trauma to the headand that only an autopsy could confirm their suspicions. After losing a 1980 title bout to Larry Holmes, Ali exhibited sluggishness and was misdiagnosed as having a thyroid condition; he was given a thyroid hormone. When Dr. Cope made the connection between Alis decreasing motor skills and Parkinsons disease, he prescribed Sinemet (L-dopa). Ali was shortly restored to his previous level of energy and awareness; as long as he took his medication regularly, he was able to keep the disease in check. In 1988 Ali tld New York Times Magazine contributor Peter Tauber: Ive got Parkinsons syndrome. Im in no pain. If I was in perfect healthif I had won my last two fightsif I had no problem, people would be afraid of me. Now they feel sorry for me. They thought I was Superman. Now they can say Hes human, like us. He has problems.

Ignored Warnings About Neurological Damage

In 1984 another of Alis medical confidantes, Dr. Martin D. Ecker, ventured in the Boston Globe that Ali should have quit boxing long before he finally didfor the second and final timein 1981 after losing to Trevor Berbick. His bout with Berbick was his 61st and final fight. By then Ali had been showing signs of neurological damage for over a year. Alis former doctor, Dr. Ferdie Pacheco, told the fighter to quit in 1977 when he first saw signs of Alis reflexes slowing down. Seven years later, Pacheco, a consultant and boxing commentator for NBC-TV, explained to Betsy Lehman in the Boston Globe why he feels Ali didnt quit boxing in 1977: The most virulent infection in the human race is the standing ovation. Once youve seen that, you cant get off the stage. Once you feel that recognition the roar of 50,000 people, you just dont want to give it up. When Ali initially surrendered his title in 1979, he was paid $250,000 to quit, but he eventually returned to his sport, perhaps as Pacheco suggested, because the recognition had become habit-forming.

Toward the end of Alis boxing career, and afterward, his ambitions took a decided turn toward statesmanship. In 1980 he cast his lot with the Democratic Party, supporting then-Presidential candidate Jimmy Carter. In August of that year, while in intense training for the Holmes fight, he found time to work the floor of the Democratic National Convention in New York City. He also functioned as something of a diplomat in February of 1985 when he attempted to secure the release of four kidnapped Americans in Lebanon; unfortunately, he and his three advisers were not successful.

During his career in the ring Ali made more than $50 million, two-thirds of which went to managerial expenses and taxes. He said to New York Times Magazine contributor Tauber in 1988, I never talk about boxing. It just served its purpose. I was only about 11 or 12 years old when I said Im gonna get famous so I can help my people. Indicating his continuing desire to help people, in 1990 Ali visited Our Childrens Foundation, Inc., on Manhattans 125th Street. According to Bill Gallo in the New York Daily News, he addressed the children there, saying, The sun has a purpose. The moon has a purpose. The snow has a purpose. Cows have a purpose. You were born for a purpose. You have to find your purpose. Go to school. Learn to read and write. What is your purpose, your occupation? Find your purpose. What do you have to find? Purpose!, they shouted gleefully in unison. True to form, one of Alis favored inscriptions when signing autographs is Love is the net where hearts are caught like fish.

Selected writings

(With Richard Durham) The Greatest: My Own Story, Random House, 1975.

Sources

Atlanta Journal and Constitution, December 13, 1988.

Boston Globe, October 1, 1984.

Chicago Tribune, October 9, 1984.

Ebony, April 1969.

Face the Nation (transcript of CBS-TV program), May 2, 1976.

Newsweek, June 22, 1987.

New York Daily News, February 2, 1989.

New York Post, July 14, 1987.

New York Times Magazine, July 17, 1988.

Philadelphia Inquirer, August 12, 1990.

Spin, October 1991.

Sports Illustrated, December 20, 1976; April 25, 1988; January 13, 1992.

Washington Post, June 9, 1991.

B. Kimberly Taylor

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Ali, Muhammad

Muhammad Ali

Born: January 17, 1942
Louisville, Kentucky

African American boxer

Muhammad Ali was the only professional boxer to win the heavy-weight championship three times. He provided leadership and an example for African American men and women around the world with his political and religious views.

Early life

Muhammad Ali was born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. on January 17, 1942, in Louisville, Kentucky, the first of Cassius Marcellus Clay Sr. and Odessa Grady Clay's two sons. His father was a sign painter who also loved to act, sing, and dance; his mother worked as a cleaning lady when money was tight. Ali began boxing at the age of twelve. His bicycle had been stolen, and he reported the theft to a policeman named Joe Martin, who gave boxing lessons in a local youth center. Martin invited Ali to try boxing and soon saw that he had talent.

Martin began to feature Ali on his local television show, "Tomorrow's Champions," and he started Ali working out at Louisville's Columbia Gym. An African American trainer named Fred Stoner taught Ali the science of boxing. Among the many things Ali learned was how to move with the grace and ease of a dancer. Although his schoolwork suffered, Ali devoted all of his time to boxing and improved steadily.

"Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee"

As a teenager Ali won both the national Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) and Golden Gloves championships. At the age of eighteen he competed in the 1960 Olympic games held in Rome, Italy, winning the gold medal in the lightheavyweight division. This led to a contract with a group of millionaires called the Louisville Sponsors Group. It was the biggest contract ever signed by a professional boxer. Ali worked his way through a series of professional victories, using a style that combined speed with great punching power. He was described by one of his handlers as having the ability to "float like a butterfly, and sting like a bee."

Ali's unique style of boasting, rhyming, and expressing confidence brought him considerable media attention as he moved toward a chance to fight for the world heavyweight boxing championship. When he began to write poems predicting his victories in different fights he became known as "The Louisville Lip." Both the attention and his skill as a fighter paid off. In February 1964, when he was only twenty-two years old, he fought and defeated Sonny Liston for the heavyweight championship of the world.

Religious change

Inspired by Muslim spokesman Malcolm X (19251965), Ali began to follow the Black Muslim faith (a group that supports a separate black nation) and announced that he had changed his name to Cassius X. This was at a time when the struggle for civil rights was at a peak and the Muslims had emerged as a controversial (causing disputes) but important force in the African American community. Later the Muslim leader Elijah Muhammad (18971975) gave him the name Muhammad Ali, which means "beloved of Allah." (Allah is the god worshipped by Muslims.) In his first title defense in May 1965 Ali defeated Sonny Liston with a first-round knockout. (Many called it a phantom punch because it was so fast and powerful that few watching the fight even saw it.) Ali successfully defended his title eight more times.

In April 1967 Ali was drafted into military service during the Vietnam War (195775; a war fought in an unsuccessful attempt to stop Communist North Vietnam from overtaking South Vietnam). He claimed that as a minister of the Black Muslim religion he was not obligated to serve. The press criticized him as unpatriotic, and the New York State Athletic Commission and World Boxing Association suspended his boxing license and stripped him of his heavyweight title. Ali told Sports Illustrated, "I'm giving up my title, my wealth, maybe my future. Many great men have been tested for their religious beliefs. If I pass this test, I'll come out stronger than ever." Ali was finally sentenced to five years in prison but was released on appeal, and his conviction was thrown out three years later by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Back in the ring

Ali returned to the ring and beat Jerry Quarry in 1970. Five months later he lost to Joe Frazier (1944), who had replaced him as heavyweight champion when his title had been stripped. Ali regained the championship for the first time when he defeated George Foreman (1949), who had beaten Frazier for the title, in a fight held in Zaire in 1974. Ali referred to this match as the "Rumble in the Jungle." Ali fought Frazier several more times, including a fight in 1974 staged in New York City and a bout held in the Philippines in 1975, which Ali called the "Thrilla in Manila." Ali won both matches to regain his title as the world heavyweight champion. In 1975 Sports Illustrated magazine named Ali its "Sportsman of the Year."

Ali now used a new style of boxing, one that he called his "rope-a-dope." He would let his opponents wear themselves down while he rested, often against the ropes; he would then be strong and lash out in the later rounds. Ali successfully defended his title ten more times. He held the championship until Leon Spinks defeated him in February 1978 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Seven months later Ali regained the heavyweight title by defeating Spinks in New Orleans, Louisiana, becoming the first boxer in history to win the heavyweight championship three times. At the end of his boxing career he was slowed by a condition related to Parkinson's disease (a disease of the nervous system that results in shaking and weakness of the muscles). Ali's last fight (there were sixty-one in all) took place in 1981.

Role as statesman

As Ali's boxing career ended, he became involved in social causes and politics. He campaigned for Jimmy Carter (1924) and other Democratic political candidates and took part in the promotion of a variety of political causes addressing poverty and the needs of children. He even tried to win the release of four kidnapped Americans in Lebanon in 1985. As a result, his image changed and he became respected as a statesman. At the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia, the world and his country honored Ali by choosing him to light the Olympic torch during the opening ceremonies.

Ali remains in the public eye even as he continues to suffer from the effects of Parkinson's disease. In 1998 he announced he was leaving an experimental treatment program in Boca Raton, Florida, claiming that the program's leader was unfairly using his name to gain publicity. In 1999 Ali became the first boxer to ever appear on a Wheaties cereal box. Later that year he supported a new law to clean up the business side of boxing. After the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, Ali agreed to record sixty-second announcements for airing in Muslim countries to show that the United States remained friendly to those of the Muslim faith. Among many documentaries and books about Ali, a film version of his life, Ali, was released in December 2001.

For More Information

Myers, Walter Dean. The Greatest: Muhammad Ali. New York: Scholastic Press, 2001.

Remnick, David. King of the World: Muhammad Ali and the Rise of an American Hero. New York: Random House, 1998.

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Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali (born Cassius Clay, 1942) was the only professional boxer to win the heavyweight championship three times. With his outspoken political and religious views he has provided leadership and an example for African American men and women around the world.

Born Cassius Marcellus Clay on January 17, 1942, at Louisville, Kentucky, Muhammad Ali began boxing at the age of 12. A white policeman named Joe Martin featured Ali on his early television show, "Tomorrow's Champions," and started him working out at Louisville's Columbia Gym. An African American trainer named Fred Stoner taught Ali the science of boxing, instructing him to move with the grace and subtlety of a dancer.

"Float Like a Butterfly, Sting Like a Bee"

Ali built an impressive amateur record which led him to both the national Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) and Golden Gloves championships. At the age of 18 he competed in the 1960 Olympic games held at Rome, Italy, and won the gold medal in the light-heavyweight division. This led to a contract with a twelve member group of millionaires called the Louisville Sponsors Group, the most lucrative contract negotiated by a professional in the history of boxing. He worked his way through a string of professional victories, employing a style that combined speed with devastating punching power, described by one of his handlers as the ability to "float like a butterfly, and sting like a bee."

Ali's flamboyant style of boasting and rhyming and out-spoken self-promotion garnered considerable media attention as he moved toward a chance to contend for the world heavyweight boxing championship. When he began to write poems predicting the outcome of his many bouts he became known by the another name: "The Louisville Lip." Both the attention and his skill as a fighter paid off, and on February 15, 1964, at Miami, Florida, when he was only 22 years old, he fought and defeated Sonny Liston for the heavyweight championship of the world.

"Beloved of Allah"

Meanwhile Ali, inspired by human rights activist Malcolm X, embraced the Black Muslim faith and announced that he had changed his name to Cassius X. This was at a time when the struggle for civil rights was at a peak and the Muslims had emerged as a controversial but major force in the African American community. Later he was given the name Muhammad Ali, meaning "beloved of Allah," by the Muslim patriarch Elijah Muhammad.

In his first title defense, held at Lewiston, Maine, on May 25, 1965, he defeated the now challenger Sonny Liston with a first round knockout that many called a phantom punch because it was so fast and powerful that few in attendance saw it. Ali successfully defended his title eight more times.

On April 28, 1967, Ali was drafted into military service during the Vietnam War. As a Muslim and a conscientious objector he refused to serve, claiming an exemption as a minister of the Black Muslim religion. The press turned against him, calling him "unpatriotic, loudmouthed, bombastic." Although he had not been charged or convicted for violating the Selective Service Act, the New York State Athletic Commission and World Boxing Association suspended his boxing license and stripped him of his heavyweight title in May of 1967. Ali's comment to Sports Illustrated at the time was, "I'm giving up my title, my wealth, may be my future. Many great men have been tested for their religious beliefs. If I pass this test, I'll come out stronger than ever." Eventually Ali was sentenced to five years in prison, released on appeal, and his conviction overturned three years later by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Vindication and Victory

The vindicated Ali returned to the ring in a victorious bout with Jerry Quary in Atlanta in 1971. Four months later he was defeated by Joe Frazier in Manila, who had replaced him as heavyweight champion when the title had been vacated. He regained the championship for the first time when he defeated George Forman (who had beaten Frazier for the title) in a bout held in Zaire in 1974. Ali fought Frazier again in the same year, and in 1975 won both matches and secured his title as the world heavyweight champion. In that year, to welcome Ali back, Sports Illustrated magazine named him their "Sportsman of the Year."

Ali began to employ a new style of boxing, one that he called his "rope-a-dope." He would let his opponents wear themselves down while he rested, often against the ropes; then he would lash out in the later rounds. During his ensuing reign Ali successfully defended his title ten more times. Ali held the championship until he was defeated by Leon Spinks on February 16, 1978, in a bout held in Las Vegas, Nevada. Seven months later, on September 15, 1978, Ali regained the heavyweight title by defeating Spinks in a bout held at New Orleans. Ali thus became the first boxer in history to win the heavyweight championship three times. At the end of his boxing career he was slowed by a neurological condition related to Parkinson's disease. His last fight, the 61st, took place in 1981.

Role as Statesman

As his career wound to a close, Ali became increasingly involved in social causes, diplomacy and politics. He has campaigned for Jimmy Carter and other Democratic political candidates and taken part in the promotion of a variety of political causes addressing poverty and children. He even played the role of diplomat, attempting to secure the release of four kidnapped Americans in Lebanon in 1985. As a result, his image changed from gadfly to highly respected statesman.

At the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta, the world and his country honored Ali by choosing him to light the Olympic torch during the opening ceremonies.

Further Reading

There are numerous books about Muhammad Ali. Some of the best include Thomas Conklin, Muhammad Ali: The Fight for Respect (1992), Thomas Hauser's three books, Muhammad Ali: His Life and Times (1992), Muhammad Ali in Perspective (1996), and Muhammad Ali: Memories, with photographer Neil Leifer. Other supplementary texts include Barry Denenberg, The Story of Muhammad Ali: Heavyweight Champion of the World (Famous Lives) (1996), The People's Champ (Sport and Society), edited by Elliott J. Gorn (1995), Arlene Schulman, Muhammad Ali: Champion (Newsmakers) (1996), Jack Rummel, Muhammad Ali (Black Americans ofAchievement) (1989), William R. Sanford, Carl R. Green, Muhammad Ali (Sports Immortals) (1993), John Stravinsky, Muhammad Ali: Biography (Biographies from A&E) (1997). Outstanding accounts of particular events in Ali's life and career are Norman Mailer's book about the return bout with Forman in Zaire, The Fight (1997), and Suzanne Freedman, Clay v. United States: Muhammad Ali Objects to War (1997). Recent articles on Ali have appeared in The Boston Globe (Oct. 1, 1984, Jan. 17, 1992), Newsweek (June 22, 1987), New York Daily News (Feb. 2, 1989), New York Post (July 14, 1987), New York Times Magazine (July 17, 1988), Philadelphia Inquirer (Aug. 12, 1990), Spin (Oct. 1991), USA Today (Feb. 25, 1994), and Washington Post (June 9, 1991). □

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Ali, Muhammad (USA)

Ali, Muhammad (USA) 1942-

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Muhammad Ali was one of the greatest heavyweight boxing champions. He also stands as a powerful symbol of social and cultural change in the United States during the second half of the twentieth century.

Ali was born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. in Louisville, Kentucky, on January 17, 1942. He began boxing at an early age and had a distinguished amateur career that culminated in winning a gold medal at the 1960 Rome Olympics. He then turned professional, and on February 25, 1964, he defeated Sonny Liston (1932?-1970) to become heavyweight champion at the age of twenty-two.

Already at this point in his career Ali demonstrated the outspoken demeanor that reflected the changing racial climate of the times. The civil rights movement that had begun in the United States in the years following World War II (1939-1945) was coming to a climax, with widespread activism, the charismatic leadership of Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968), and the passage of landmark federal legislation, including the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The more violently confrontational Black Power movement was about to begin. The history of the heavyweight championship and Alis role in it serves to reflect these elements of change. Following a controversial black champion, Jack Johnson (1878-1946), in the early years of the century, no African American was allowed to fight for the heavyweight championship until the arrival of Joe Louis (1914-1981) in the 1930s. Louis, who held the title from 1937 to 1949, and other black champions who followed, most notably Floyd Patterson (1935-2006) during the late 1950s and early 1960s, were submissive and noncontroversial. The young Cassius Clay, however, was brash and outspoken. Shortly after becoming heavyweight champion, the aura of controversy surrounding him grew when he announced that he had become a member of the Nation of Islam and was officially changing his name to Muhammad Ali. In 1966, as U.S. military involvement in Vietnam became an increasingly divisive national issue, Ali announced that he was seeking exemption from military service as a conscientious objector. As a result of this, and his subsequent refusal of induction when his draft board failed to grant the exemption, he was formally stripped of his boxing title early the following year.

Ali was kept out of the sport for next three years. In 1970, however, he was again able to obtain a boxing license, and in 1971 the U.S. Supreme Court overturned his conviction for refusing induction. Returning to the ring at the age of twenty-eight, he went on to fight some of his most memorable bouts, including his stunning victory over George Foreman in Zaire in October 1974 in which he regained the heavyweight title. He continued to fight through the rest of the decade, losing and regaining the title a third time in 1978. He fought his last fight and left the ring for good in 1981.

In the latter part of his fighting career, Ali began to display the effects of his many years in boxing. In the early 1980s he was diagnosed with pugilistic Parkinsons syndrome. Despite deteriorating health following his retirement, he continued to make public appearances and to serve as a spokesperson for anti-imperialist and anticolonial movements throughout the world. During this period also, his reputation in the United States gradually underwent a transformation, from a figure of controversy to a national icon. In 1980 he was sent to Africa by President Jimmy Carter in an unsuccessful effort to gain African support for the U.S. boycott of the Moscow Olympics. A diplomatic effort in Iraq in 1990 secured the release of several of the U.S. hostages being held by Saddam Hussein (1937-2006) in the period immediately preceding the 1991 Gulf War. As the 1990s progressed, Alis rise to iconic status continued. In 1996, with an estimated three billion people around the world watching on television, he lit the Olympic flame to open the Atlanta Summer Olympics, and nine years later, in 2005, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom at a ceremony in the White House.

It is extremely difficult to separate the real from the mythic Ali. His stature, clearly, extends far beyond his skill in the boxing ring, and is attributable to the natural charisma and sincerity of the man, to the work of the many journalists and publicists who wrote about him, and finally to the times in which he lived. Never a profound or original thinker, Alis activities and pronouncements on various issueshis support, for example, of Republican presidential candidates Ronald Reagan (1911-2004) and George H. W. Bush in the 1980soften appeared inconsistent and contradictory. In the end, however, it is in the transition from a figure of controversy to a national icon, and the manner in which it serves to symbolize the social and cultural change occurring in the United States during the second half of the twentieth century, that his greatest significance lies.

SEE ALSO Black Power; Bush, George H. W.; Colonialism; Imperialism; Malcolm X; Nation of Islam; Neocolonialism; Olympic Games; Reagan, Ronald; Sports; Sports Industry; Vietnam War

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Hauser, Thomas. 1991. Muhammad Ali: His Life and Times. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Marqusee, Mike. 2005. Redemption Song: Muhammad Ali and the Spirit of the Sixties. 2nd ed. London: Verso.

Remnick, David. 1998. King of the World: Muhammad Ali and the Rise of an American Hero. New York: Random House.

Scott Wright

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Ali, Muhammad (Memet)

Ali, Muhammad (Memet) 1769-1849

BIBLIOGRAPHY

The history of modern Egypt opens in 1798 with Napoleon Bonapartes (1769-1821) invasion of the Ottoman province, destroying the army of the Mamluk rulers at the Battle of the Pyramids. With the Mamluks and the Ottomans in disarray, the French troops also withdrew after the defeat of the French fleet at Abu Qir, leaving a political vacuum. Muhammad Ali (or Mehmet Ali), born in the Macedonian town of Kavalla in the Ottoman Empire, was a young officer serving with the Albanian contingent against the French. He successfully filled this vacuum by creating a power base in the villages, and by joining forces with local clerics and merchants in Cairo. He removed three successive governors sent from Istanbul. Appointed wali or Ottoman viceroy of Egypt in 1805, Muhammad Ali used brutal methods to establish his control over Egypt, including breaking the power of the Mamluks by massacring their leaders in 1811. Regarded as the founder of modern Egypt, he created a dynasty that ruled Egypt until 1952.

Recognizing that modern political power rests on a modern, disciplined army, Muhammad Ali conscripted peasants from Upper Egypt to train them in the Napoleonic army system. He undertook a number of military campaigns, but his military and dynastic ambitions were thwarted by British, French, or Russian intervention. These powers had their own designs on the dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire, and their interests were not compatible with the strategic objectives of Muhammad Ali. Between 1820 and 1822, he conquered the Sudan in search of gold and slaves, founding the city of Khartoum in 1823. Some thirty thousand Sudanese slaves had been trained, and these nizami troops, led by Muhammad Alis son Ibrahim (1789-1848), were sent against the Greeks in 1827 in the Greek war of independence. Although his troops were relatively effective, the Ottoman navy was destroyed at the Battle of Navarino in 1827.

To fund his military reforms, Muhammad Ali established long-staple cotton as a cash crop and modernized Egyptian agriculture for cotton production to supply the British textile industry. To secure his rule and to support cotton production, he confiscated the lands of the ruling class, made large land grants to his own family, and reclaimed uncultivated land, thereby creating a new landed class to support his political rule.

His modernization program also included the reform of educational institutions, the creation of a teaching hospital, the building of roads and canals, the construction of state factories, and the development of a shipbuilding foundry at Alexandria. These industrial developments provided the military platform that led Muhammad Ali to invade Greater Syria in 1831 and again in 1839. Alarmed by his success, the British intervened, blocked the Nile Delta and defeated him at Beirut. In the Treaty of London in 1841, he surrendered Crete and Hijaz and abandoned his military ambitions; in return, he and his descendants were given hereditary rule over Egypt. He died in 1849, being buried in the Muhammad Ali Mosque in the Citadel of Cairo, the mosque that he had commissioned.

Muhammad Ali was the last of the military adventurers who periodically seized power in the Ottoman provinces, giving their military domination a mask of legitimacy by creating a dynasty. He was fortunate to rule in a period of Ottoman decline, taking advantage of French military officers to modernize his army.

SEE ALSO Ottoman Empire

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Fahmy, Khaled. 1997. All the Pashas Men: Mehmed Ali, His Army, and the Making of Modern Egypt. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Vatikiotis, P. J. 1991. The History of Modern Egypt: From Muhammad Ali to Mubarak. 4th ed. Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins University Press.

Bryan S. Turner

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Muhammad Ali (pasha of Egypt)

Muhammad Ali, 1769?–1849, pasha of Egypt after 1805. He was a common soldier who rose to leadership by his military skill and political acumen. In 1799 he commanded a Turkish army in an unsuccessful attempt to drive Napoleon from Egypt. As pasha he was virtually independent of his nominal overlord, the Ottoman sultan. He modernized his armed forces and administration, created schools, and began many public works, particularly irrigation projects. The cost of these reforms bore heavily on the peasants and brought them few benefits. In 1811 he exterminated the leaders of the Mamluks, who had ruled Egypt almost uninterruptedly since 1250. With his son, Ibrahim Pasha, Muhammad Ali conducted successful campaigns in Arabia against the Wahhabis. In 1820 he sent armies to conquer Sudan. He scored great successes fighting for the Ottoman sultan in Greece until the British, French, and Russians combined to defeat his fleet at Navarino in 1827. The sultan, Mahmud II, to win his intervention in the Greek revolt, had promised to make him governor of Syria. When the sultan refused to hand over the province, Muhammad Ali invaded Syria with great success. In 1839 he attacked his overlord in Asia Minor, but was forced to desist when he lost the support of France and was threatened by united European opposition. In a compromise arrangement the Ottoman sultan made the governorship of Egypt hereditary in Muhammad Ali's line. He retired from office in 1848. Muhammad Ali is credited for his many domestic reforms, which hastened the foundations for an independent Egypt.

See H. H. Dodwell, The Founder of Modern Egypt (1931, repr. 1977); A. Marsot, Egypt in the Reign of Muhammad Ali (1984).

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Ali, Muhammad

Muhammad Ali (məhăm´əd älē´), 1942–, American boxer, b. Louisville, Ky. Born Cassius Marcellus Clay, he was a 1960 Olympic gold medalist. Shortly after upsetting Sonny Liston in 1964 to become world heavyweight champion, he formalized his association with the Nation of Islam (see Black Muslims) and adopted the Muslim name Muhammad Ali.

Ali's flamboyant boxing style and outspoken stances on social issues made him a controversial figure during the turbulent 1960s and early 1970s. After beating Liston, he defended his title nine times, brashly proclaiming himself the "greatest of all time." In 1967 he refused induction into the armed services and became a symbol of resistance to the Vietnam War. The boxing establishment stripped Ali of his title and prevented him from fighting until the U.S. Supreme Court in 1971 upheld his draft appeal on religious grounds. Before retiring in 1981 Ali compiled a 56–5 record and became the only man to ever win the heavyweight crown three times. His fights with Joe Frazier and George Foreman were among boxing's biggest events.

In retirement, Ali has remained one of the most recognized world figures. The 1984 revelation that he suffered from Parkinson's disease renewed debate over the negative effects of boxing. His appearance at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, to light the Olympic flame, moved an international audience.

See T. Hauser, Muhammad Ali: His Life and Times (1991); D. Remnick, King of the World (1998).

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Muhammad Ali (shah of Persia)

Muhammad Ali, 1872–1925, shah of Persia (1906–9), son of Muzaffar ad-Din Shah, of the Qajar dynasty. Muhammad Ali, who was an opponent of constitutional government, began to rule at a critical period just after the constitution of 1906 had been granted. His struggle with the nationalists led to the bombing of the newly established parliament. He called in the aid of the Russians, who organized a Cossack brigade for him. His attempt to overthrow the constitutional government brought on two short civil wars (1908–9). Muhammad Ali was finally forced to abdicate in favor of his son, Ahmad Mirza. Later he attempted with Russian help to regain his throne, but he failed and afterward lived in exile in Russia.

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Ali, Muhammad

Ali, Muhammad (1942– ) US boxer, b. Cassius Marcellus Clay. He defeated Sonny Liston to gain the world heavyweight championship in 1964. He converted to Islam and joined the Black Muslims. Ali successfully defended the title nine times. In 1967 he refused to fight in the Vietnam War and the World Boxing Association (WBA) took away his title. In 1971 the US Supreme Court upheld Ali's appeal against the ban, but he was defeated in the ring by Joe Frazier. He regained the title from George Foreman in the 1974 ‘rumble in the jungle’ fight. In 1978 Ali was defeated by Leon Spinks, but won the rematch, becoming the first heavyweight to win the title three times.

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Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali (1769–1849) Albanian soldier who founded an Egyptian dynasty. In 1798, he took part in an Ottoman expeditionary force to Egypt to drive out the French. He was unsuccessful, but (after the departure of the French) quickly rose to power. In 1805, he was proclaimed viceroy to the Ottoman sultan. In 1811 he defeated the Mamluks, who had ruled Egypt since the 13th century. Muhammad put down a rebellion in Greece in 1821, but his fleet was later destroyed by the European powers at the Battle of Navarino (1827). He challenged the sultan and began a conquest of Syria in 1831, but was compelled to withdraw by European powers.

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Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali See Ali

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