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Family and Timeline of Muhammad Ali

Ranjan Shandilya
Muhammad Ali has enthralled and inspired millions across the globe. Some even consider him the greatest sportsperson ever.

Did you know?

Muhammad Ali was born as Cassius Clay to a Methodist father and a Baptist mother, before converting to Islam and adopting his more popular name.
Muhammad Ali was a legendary name in boxing, and was probably the best ever to take up the grueling sport. Ali's famous philosophy "float like a butterfly, sting like a bee" changed the game for the better by making it more attractive.
His boxing style took the world by storm and left many an opponent blown away by its enigmatic brutality. Here are some of the landmarks in Muhammad Ali's boxing career right from the very beginning to the very end:

Timeline of Ali's Career

1954 : When Clay was 12 years old, his bike was stolen. Although he did report the crime, he also promised to 'whup whoever stole it'. The policeman to whom he reported the crime, Joe Martin, took him under his wing and coached the youngster on boxing.
Over the next 6 years, Clay went on to win six Kentucky Golden Gloves championships, two Amateur Athletic Union crowns and two Golden Gloves titles.
1960 : Clay won the light-heavyweight gold medal at the Summer Olympics held in Rome, defeating Polish wrestler Zbigniew Pietrzykowski with a 5-0 decision. On returning to Louisville, Clay discovered that, despite the gold medal, he was not immune to racism.
He was refused service by a waitress in a 'whites-only' restaurant and was also forced to fight with a white gang. Disgusted with the racist behavior meted out to him, Clay threw his gold medal in the Ohio River. Despite all this turbulence, he turned into a professional boxer and went on to win two titles.
1964 : Clay beat Sonny Liston in a six-round bout to become the heavyweight champion of the world. Before this fight, Ali announced his famous mantra, "float like a butterfly, sting like a bee".
Contrary to the prevalent norms of the period, Ali held his hands low and relied on quick footwork to dodge punches, rather than guarding his face with his hands. After the fight, Clay announced his decision to become a Black Muslim and changed his name to Muhammad Ali.
1967: In April 1967 Ali refused to serve in the US Army, citing the Holy Qur'an as his reason not to fight. His famous quote 'I ain't got no quarrel with those Vietcong' speaks of the racial abuse Ali had to suffer in his homeland. This behavior angered many Americans and he was stripped of the World Boxing Association and also lost his fighting license.
He was found guilty of draft evasion (refusing/remaining unavailable for military selection) by the court of law. He was fined USD 10,000 and was also sentenced to five years in prison. Although he managed to avoid prison, he was not allowed to box.
1970 : As there was no State Boxing Commission in Georgia, Ali was able to return to the ring in Atlanta, where he knocked out Jerry Quarry in three rounds.

1971 : Ali lost to heavyweight champion Joe Frazier in March. Later in June, the Supreme Court ruled in Ali's favor and reversed the draft evasion conviction that was passed out against him in 1967.
1974: Not only did Ali defeat Joe Frazier in 1974, but he also won the heavyweight title in the famous 'Rumble in the Jungle' contest, beating George Foreman using the 'rope-a-dope' tactic. Ali backed away against the ropes of the rings, inviting Foreman's punches.
However, Foreman's punches were inaccurate, and after being drained out by the effort of attacking Ali's doggedly defensive stance, he was blown away by Ali's final blitzkrieg. This ferocious counterattacking style then became Ali's trademark.
1978: Ali lost his belt to the 1976 Olympic gold medalist Leon Spinks in a 15-round split decision. However, seven months later, Ali won his title back with a unanimous decision.

1979: Muhammad announced his retirement from professional boxing on June 27.
1980: Ali came out of retirement to fight the new heavyweight champ Larry Holmes. However, this ended badly for Ali, as Holmes knocked him out in the 11th round.

1981: Ali lost again, this time to Trevor Berbick. He retired for the second, and last, time with a career win-loss record of 56-5.
1984 : Three years after he retired, Ali was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. This neurological condition is common among sports which inherently carry the constant risk of concussions, such as boxing.
1996: Ali was chosen to ignite the Olympic cauldron to signal the beginning of the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. He was also gifted with a second gold medal to replace the one that he had tossed in the Ohio River 36 years earlier.

Muhammad Ali's Family

Muhammad Ali was born as Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr., on January 17, 1942, to Odessa and Cassius, Sr., in Louisville, Kentucky. He has a younger brother, Rudolph, who also trained in heavyweight boxing. Rudolph later changed his name to Rahman Ali.Muhammad Ali married four times and has nine children.
His children (from eldest to youngest) Maryum, twins Rasheda and Jamila, and Muhammad, Jr., with Belinda Boyd / Khalilah Ali (married 1967 - 1977); daughters Hana and Laila with Veronica Porsche (m. 1977 - 1986); adoptive son Asaad with Yolanda Williams (m. 1986 - present) and daughters Miya and Khaliah from extramarital relationships.
Ali's first marriage with Sonji Roi lasted from 1964 to 1966; Roi's objections to certain Islamic customs led to their divorce. He didn't have a child with Roi. His daughter Laila began her professional boxing career in 1999 and is unbeaten till today.
Even in his Parkinson's-riddled old age, Ali was one the most recognizable faces in the world, and, in the eyes of many, the one true lord of 'the ring'. On June 3, 2016, Muhammad Ali passed away. He was hospitalized the previous day, put on life support, but his condition did not improve. His death meant the loss of an iconic figure in sports.