Muhammad Ali (/ɑːˈliː/; born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr.; January 17, 1942 – June 3, 2016) was an American professional boxer, activist, and philanthropist. He is widely regarded as one of the most significant and celebrated sports figures of the 20th century. From early in his career, Ali was known as an inspiring, controversial, and polarizing figure both inside and outside of the ring.
In 1966, two years after winning the heavyweight title, Ali further antagonized the white establishment by refusing to be drafted into the U.S. military, citing his religious beliefs, and opposition to American involvement in the Vietnam War. He was eventually arrested, found guilty of draft evasion charges, and stripped of his boxing titles. He successfully appealed the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, which overturned his conviction in 1971, by which time he had not fought for nearly four years and thereby lost a period 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.
At a time when most fighters let their managers do the talking, Ali thrived in and indeed craved the spotlight, where he was often provocative and outlandish. He was known for trash-talking, and often freestyled with rhyme schemes and spoken word poetry, both for his trash-talking in boxing and as political poetry for his activism, anticipating elements of rap and hip hop music. As a musician, Ali recorded two spoken wordalbums and a rhythm and blues song, receiving two Grammy nominations. As an actor, he performed in several films and a Broadway musical. Ali wrote two autobiographies, one during and one after his boxing career.
Remembering the one-and-only Muhammad Ali on what would have been his 81st birthday 🥳🥊
After retiring from boxing in 1981, at age 39, Ali focused on religion and charity. In 1984, he was diagnosed with Parkinson's syndrome, which some reports attribute to boxing-related injuries, though both Ali and his physician disputed the claim. As his condition worsened, Ali made limited public appearances, and was cared for by his family until his death on June 3, 2016, in Scottsdale, Arizona.