From early childhood Cassius had dreamed of being a boxer. While attending an annual convention of the Louisville service club at the Columbia Auditorium in October of 1954 his bicycle was stolen. Cassius was very upset and angry and a tearful Cassius was directed to the basement of the Auditorium where a police officer named Joe Martin was manning the boxing gym. Joe Martin listened to a boastful Cassuis talk about conducting a state wide man hunt for his bike and what he would do to the thief when he caught him.

After a while Martin asked him if he knew how to fight, Cassius responded " no but I'd fight anyway." Martins best advice to the hot preteen was to come back around the gym and learn how to fight. Martin went on to become Clays first trainer during his explosive amateur career. Fighting 108 times and winning 100 of them.

Cassius loved boxing and took up the sport seriously and trained very hard at it. He won the Kentucky golden gloves championship, two amateur athletic union championship titles and two national golden gloves championship boxing titles. Cassius was already thinking of representing the United States in 1960 at the Rome Olympics.

Cassius Clay representing the U.S.A won the Olympic gold medal defeating a polish fighter Zbigniew Pietrzykowski 5-0 in the final in Rome. Cassius returned a hero to Louisville and quickly signed a professional boxing contract with the Louisville sponsoring group made up of 10 local businessmen.

Cassius met Malcolm X at a miami mosque early in his professional career and he created a deep impression on Cassius who began to study the religion Islam.

Cassius fought for the heavyweight championship on February 25, 1964 against Sonny Liston who claiming a shoulder injury refused to come out for the 7th round giving the title to a 22 year old Cassius Clay. After this fight Cassius embraced the religion of Islam and changed his name to Muhammad Ali. Ali defended his title 9 times 7 by knockout before he was stripped of his title in 1967 for his refusal to fight for his country in Vietnam. Ali was not allowed to fight for three years, until October 26, 1970 when he defeated Jerry Quarry by a 3rd round TKO.

Nicknamed " The Greatest ", Ali was involved in several historic boxing matches. Notable among these are three with rival Joe Frazier and one with George Foreman, whom he beat by knockout to win the world heavyweighht titla for the second time. He sufferd only five losses ( four decisions and one TKO from retirement from the bout) with no draws in his career, while amassing 56 wins ( 37 knockouts and 19 decisions). Ali was well known for his unorthodox fighting style, which he described as "float like a butterfly, sting like a bee", and employing techniques such as, the rope-a-dope. He was also known for his pre-match hype, where he would trash talk opponents on television and in person, sometimes before the match often with rhymes. These personality quips along with an unorthodox fighting technique made him a culural icon.

In later lafe, Ali developed Parkinsons's disease due to injuries he sustained throughout his career. In 1999 Ali was crowned " Sportsman of the Century" by Sports Illustrated and "Sports Personality of the Century" by the BBC.


Ali is still an incredibly populular figure in his retirement and has recieved many awards such as the Presidential Citizens Medal on January 8, 2005 by President George W . Bush. The Presidential Medal of Freedom at a White House ceremony on Novemeber 9, 2005 and the "Otto Hahn Peace Medal in Gold" of the United Nations Association of Germany (DGVN) in Berlin for his work with the US civil rights movement and the United Nations on December 17, 2005. Ali has received many more awards and has also had the honour of lighting the torch at the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics.