Clay, Cassius Marcellus Jr.
Born: Jan 17, 1942 AD
Died: 0 AD.
1942 - Born on January 17th in Louisville, Kentucky. A professional boxer and social activist. Ali was the first fighter to win the world heavyweight championship on three separate occasions; he successfully defended this title 19 times.
1954 - When Clay was 12 years old, he took up boxing under the tutelage of Louisville policeman Joe Martin.
1960 - After advancing through the amateur ranks, he won a gold medal in the 175-pound division at the Olympic Games in Rome and began a professional career under the guidance of the Louisville Sponsoring Group, a syndicate composed of 11 wealthy white men.
1964 - Clay challenged Sonny Liston for the heavyweight championship of the world on February 25th.
- He took the name Muhammad Ali, which was given to him by his spiritual mentor, Elijah Muhammad on March 6th.
1965 - Had a rematch against Liston on May 25th, he emerged with a first-round knockout victory. Triumphs over Floyd Patterson, George Chuvalo, Henry Cooper, Brian London, and Karl Mildenberger followed.
1966 - Ali fought Cleveland Williams on November 14th. Over the course of three rounds, Ali landed more than 100 punches, scored four knockdowns, and was hit a total of three times. Ali's triumph over Williams was succeeded by victories over Ernie Terrell and Zora Folley.
1967 - Citing his religious beliefs, Ali refused induction into the U.S. Army at the height of the war in Vietnam on April 28th.
- Ali was stripped of his championship and precluded from fighting by every state athletic commission in the United States for three and a half years.
- He was criminally indicted and convicted of refusing induction into the U.S. armed forces and sentenced to five years in prison on June 20th. Although he remained free on bail, four years passed before his conviction was unanimously overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court on a narrow procedural ground.
1970 - Ali was allowed to return to boxing, but his skills had eroded on October. The legs that had allowed him to “dance” for 15 rounds without stopping no longer carried him as surely around the ring.
1971 - He challenged Joe Frazier, who had become heavyweight champion during Ali's absence from the ring on March 8th. It was a fight of historic proportions, billed as the “Fight of the Century.” Frazier won a unanimous 15-round decision.
1973 - A little-known fighter named Ken Norton broke Ali's jaw in the second round en route to a 12-round upset decision on March 31st. Ali defeated Norton in a rematch.
1974 - Challenged George Foreman, who had dethroned Frazier to become heavyweight champion of the world on October 30th. The bout (which Ali referred to as the “Rumble in the Jungle”) took place in the unlikely location of Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo).
1975 - The most notable of these bouts occurred on October 1st, when Ali and Joe Frazier met in the Philippines, 6 miles (9.5 km) outside Manila, to do battle for the third time. In what is regarded by many as the greatest prizefight of all time (the “Thrilla in Manila”), Ali was declared the victor when Frazier's corner called a halt to the bout after 14 brutal rounds.
1978 - He lost his title to Leon Spinks, a novice boxer with an Olympic gold medal but only seven professional fights to his credit.
1986 - Ali married his fourth wife, Lonnie (née Yolanda Williams). He has nine children, most of whom have chosen to avoid the spotlight of which Ali was so fond. One of his daughters, however, Laila Ali, is pursuing a career as a professional boxer.
1996 - Ali was chosen to light the Olympic flame at the start of the 24th Olympiad in Atlanta, Georgia. The outpouring of goodwill that accompanied his appearance confirmed his status as one of the most beloved athletes in the world.
Page last updated: 3:15pm, 22nd Feb '07