Boxing History: June 18, 1963 Cassius Clay KO 5 Henry Cooper, London.
Muhammad Ali (born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr., January 17, 1942) is an American former professional boxer, philanthropist and social activist. Considered a cultural icon, Ali has both been idolized and vilified.
Originally known as Cassius Clay, he won the world heavyweight championship from Sonny Liston at the age of 22. Ali changed his name after joining the Nation of Islam in 1964, subsequently converting to Sunni Islam in 1975, and later to Sufism. In 1967, three years after Ali had won the heavyweight championship, he was publicly vilified for his refusal to be conscripted into the U.S. military, based on his religious beliefs and opposition to the Vietnam War. Ali was eventually arrested and found guilty on draft evasion charges; he was stripped of his boxing title, and his boxing license was suspended. He was not imprisoned, but did not fight again for nearly four years while his appeal worked its way up to the U.S. Supreme Court, where it was eventually successful.
Ali would go on to become the first and only three-time lineal World Heavyweight Champion.
Nicknamed “The Greatest”, and widely considered the best heavyweight of all-time, Ali was involved in several historic boxing matches. Notable among these were three with rival Joe Frazier, which are considered among the greatest in boxing history, and one with George Foreman, where he finally regained titles he had been stripped of seven years prior. Ali was well known for his unorthodox fighting style, epitomized by his catchphrase “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee”, and employing techniques such as the Ali Shuffle and the rope-a-dope. Ali brought beauty and grace to the most uncompromising of sports and through the wonderful excesses of skill and character, he became the most famous athlete in the world. He was also known for his pre-match hype, where he would “trash talk” opponents, often with rhymes.
The first and only three-time lineal World Heavyweight Champion.
The first World Heavyweight Champion to come back from retirement and regain the title.
Won twenty-two World Heavyweight Championship fights. Ali made a total of nineteen successful title defenses, nine during his first reign and ten during his second reign.
Named The Ring “Fighter of the Year” for 1963, 1972, 1974, 1975 and 1978.
Named the Boxing Writers Association of America “Fighter of the Year” for 1965, 1974 and 1975.
Named Sports Illustrated “Sportsman of the Year” for 1974.
Named The Ring “Fighter of the Decade” for the 1970s.
Inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame in 1983.
Received the Boxing Writers Association of America James J. Walker Memorial Award for 1984.
Inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame in 1986.
Inducted into the The Ring Boxing Hall of Fame in 1987.
Inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990.
Named “Athlete of the Century” by GQ magazine in 1998.
Named “Sports Personality of the Century” by the BBC in 1999.
Named “Sportsman of the 20th Century” by Sports Illustrated in 1999.
Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by U.S. President George W. Bush in 2005.
Inducted into the Florida Boxing Hall of Fame in 2010.
With less than 10-seconds remaining in round four, Clay is dropped through the ropes by a vicious left-hook.
Between rounds a tear was found on Clay’s glove, which delayed the one-minute rest period to several minutes. Clay’s prediction of a 5th round stoppage was fulfilled.