"This Man. This King. This Hero. This Human! Words cannot express. He shook up the World! God Bless Him." -Madonna
"What is going on??!! We are losing all of our National Treasures. Our Pillars of Humanity. He was the Greatest!" -Madonna
"2 Much Greatness!" -Madonna
Muhammad Ali born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr., January 17, 1942 – June 3, 2016) was an American professional boxer. Early in his career, Ali was known for being an inspiring, controversial and polarizing figure both inside and outside the boxing ring.
Ali (as Clay) began training at age 12. At 22, he won the world heavyweight championship from Sonny Liston in an upset in 1964. Shortly after that, Ali joined the Nation of Islam and changed his name. He converted to Sunni Islam in 1975, and then embraced the teachings of Sufism in 2005. Ali retired from boxing permanently in 1981.
In 1967, three years after winning the heavyweight title, Ali refused to be conscripted into the U.S. military, citing his religious beliefs and opposition to American involvement in the Vietnam War. He was eventually arrested and found guilty of draft evasion charges and stripped of his boxing title, which he successfully appealed in the the U.S. Supreme Court where, in 1971, his conviction was overturned. Due to this hiatus, he had not fought again for nearly four years — losing a time of peak performance as an athlete. Ali's actions as a conscientious objector to the war made him an icon for the larger counterculture generation.
Ali remains the only three-time lineal world heavyweight champion; he won the title in 1964, 1974, and 1978. Between February 25, 1964, and September 19, 1964, Ali reigned as the heavyweight boxing champion. Nicknamed "The Greatest", he was involved in several historic boxing matches. Notable among these were the first Liston fight, three with rival Joe Frazier, and "The Rumble in the Jungle" with George Foreman, in which he regained titles he had been stripped of seven years earlier.
At a time when most fighters let their managers do the talking, Ali, inspired by professional wrestler "Gorgeous" George Wagner, thrived in—and indeed craved—the spotlight, where he was often provocative and outlandish.
Cause of death: Septic shock
Resting place: Louisville, Kentucky, United States