Muhammad Ali is considered one of the greatest athletes in boxing history. In his first amateur bout in 1954, he won the fight by split decision. Ali went on to win the 1956 Golden Gloves tournament for novices in the light heavyweight class. Three years later, he won the National Golden Gloves Tournament of Champions, and the Amateur Athletic Union’s national title for the light-heavyweight division.
In 1960, at Rome Olympics, Ali defeated Zbigniew Pietrzkowski from Poland to win the gold medal for USA. He soon turned professional with the backing of the Louisville Sponsoring Group. During the 1960s Ali seemed unstoppable, winning all his bouts with majority of them being by knockouts. He took out British heavyweight champion Henry Cooper in 1963 and then knocked out Sonny Liston in 1964 to become the heavyweight champion of the world.
Ali was doing some spiritual searching and decided to join the black Muslim group, the Nation of Islam, in 1964. At first, he called himself “Cassius X,” eventually settling on the name Muhammad Ali. Two years later, Ali refused to acknowledge his military service in the name of religion. He later cleared his name after a lengthy court battle. However, the boxing association took away his title and suspended him from the sport for three and a half years.
Returning to the ring in 1970, Ali won his first bout after his forced hiatus. He knocked out Jerry Quarry in October in Atlanta. The following year, Ali took on Joe Frazier in what has been called the “Fight of the Century.” Frazier and Ali went for 15 rounds before Frazier briefly dropped Ali to the ground, before beating Ali by decision. Ali later beat Frazier in a 1974 rematch. Another legendary Ali fight took place in 1974. Billed as the “Rumble in the Jungle,”. Ali fought the reigning heavyweight champion George Foreman at Kinshasa, Zaire. Ali defeated Foreman and once again becoming the heavyweight champion of the world. Perhaps one of his toughest bouts took place in 1975 when he battled longtime rival Joe Frazier in the “Thrilla in Manila” fight. Held in Quezon City, Philippines, the match lasted for more than 14 rounds with each fighter giving it their all. Ali emerged victorious in the end. Since his retirement, Ali has devoted much of his time to philanthropy.