Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. Muhammad Ali was truly the greatest the world ever saw, for he was not merely a man, but a phenomenon. His life has inspired the lives of countless people throughout decades – some even stepping into the pantheon of legends themselves. Ali has passed us by, but left behind 74 years of a rich life to witness and take priceless lessons from. On this note, we bring you 28 Iconic pictures and facts about Muhammad Ali to celebrate his life and pay our own tribute to him.
1. Muhammad Ali was born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr, named after his father. He changed his name to Muhammad Ali in 1964.
Cassius Clay officially converted to Islam only days after his first victory over Sonny Liston, on March 6, 1964. When asked why he picked the name, he replied with:
“I am Muhammad Ali, a free name – it means beloved of God, and I insist people use it when people speak to me”
Ali further explained that Cassius Clay was his “slave name”, as he did not choose it and did not want it.(source)
2. A 12-year old Muhammad Ali(then Cassius Clay), striking a pose in 1954.
3. As a child, Muhammad Ali was refused an autograph by his boxing idol, Sugar Ray Robinson. When Ali became a prizefighter, he vowed never to deny an autograph request – a principle he upheld throughout his career.
He even had a dedicated P.O. box for anyone who wanted his autograph!(source)
4. When Muhammad Ali was 12 years old, he and a friend went to the Columbia Auditorium. On returning from the show they went back to get their bicycles only to discover that Muhammad Ali’s had been stolen. This incident inspired Ali to become a boxer.
Angered by the robbery, Ali reported the crime to police officer Joe Martin, who happened to also be a boxing coach at the Columbia Gym. When Muhammad Ali told Martin that he wanted to beat up the person who stole his bike, Martin suggested that he should learn to fight first. Days later, he began training in boxing at Martin’s gym.(source)
5. Ali demonstrating his incredible footwork on a TV show.
6. Dollar bills, y’all! Here is Muhammad Ali with his huge stash of winnings in 1964.
7. Muhammad Ali stands over fallen challenger Sonny Liston on May 25, 1965, in Lewiston, Maine.
Heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali stands over fallen challenger Sonny Liston, shouting and gesturing shortly after dropping Liston with a short hard right to the jaw on May 25, 1965, in Lewiston, Maine. The bout lasted only one minute into the first round. Ali is the only man ever to win the world heavyweight boxing championship three times.(source)