Weighing In on Cassius Clay

Thinking back to one of the greatest athletes of all time, Muhammad Ali. Do you remember all of the events that happened during the life of this heavyweight champion, philanthropist and social activist?

Scroll down for a timeline of big events that had an even bigger impact on the world.

Muhammad Ali won the light-heavyweight gold medal at the Summer Olympics in Rome with a 5-0 decision over Poland’s Zbigniew Pietrzykowski. Once Ali returned home to the States he was infuriated by the racism he encountered and threw his gold medal into the Ohio River.

Despite a perfect 19–0 record, Cassius Clay was the underdog in his championship match against Sonny Liston aka “ugly, old bear.” He boldly predicted a victory and to everyone’s surprise, he delivered, beating Liston in just six rounds to become the heavyweight champion of the world.

After the fight, Cassius Clay announced he had become a black Muslim and changed his name to Muhammad Ali.

In April 1967 Muhammad Ali refused induction into the U.S. Army due to his religious convictions. The boxer upset many Americans by claiming “I ain’t got no quarrel with those vietcong—therefore was stripped of his WBA title and license to fight.

Two months later a court found him guilty of draft evasion and fined him $10,000 and sentenced him to five years in prison. He filed numerous appeals which kept him out of jail but was still banned from fighting.

Ali fought against heavyweight champion Joe Frazier in Madison Square Garden in March 1971. A left hook by Frazier left Ali knocked out in the 15th round—Frazier won by unanimous decision. Three months later, the Supreme Court ruled in Ali’s favor in regards to the 1967 draft evasion conviction and reversed all charges.

Muhammad Ali fought Joe Frazier for the third time at the “Thrilla in Manila” in the Philippines in 1975. The two heavyweight boxers brutishly battled for the win, but Ali retained his belt when Frazier couldn’t come back for a 15th round.

With a career record of 55–2, a brash Ali loses his belt to 1976 Olympic champion Leon Spinks in a 15-round split decision. With the unsettling outcome, Ali won his title in an unanimous decision seven months later.

Fully unable to stand on the sidelines, Muhammad Ali came out of retirement to fight the new heavyweight champion, Larry Holmes. With an estimated 125 punches in the ninth and tenth rounds alone, Holmes slayed Ali—knocking him out in the 11th round.

Ali hangs up the gloves for good after losing a unanimous decision to Trevor Berbick. The People’s Champion retired with an overall professional record of 56-5.

In 1984 The Champ was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease which is a neurological disorder whose symptoms include muscle tremors and slowness of speech.

Muhammad Ali carried the Olympic torch and lit the cauldron to signal the start of the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia. Ali was also given a second gold medal, to replace the one he tossed in the Ohio River 36 years prior.


COMMENT POLICY: We have no tolerance for comments containing violence, racism, vulgarity, profanity, all caps, or discourteous behavior. Thank you for partnering with us to maintain a courteous and useful public environment!