Muhammad Ali

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Muhammad Ali
Heavyweight boxing world champion
Muhammad Ali NYWTS.jpg
Muhammad Ali (1967)
Birth Name Cassius Marcellus Clay
birthday January 17, 1942
place of birth Louisville , Kentucky
Date of death June 3, 2016 at the age of 74
Place of death Scottsdale , Arizona
nationality United StatesUnited States US-american
Fight name (s) The greatest
Weight class Heavyweight
style Left delivery
size 1.91 m
Range 1.98 m
Combat statistics as a professional boxer
Fights 61
Victories 56
Knockout victories 37
Defeats 5
draw 0
Profile in the BoxRec database
Medal table
Olympic games
gold ItalyItaly Rome 1960 Light heavyweight

Muhammad Ali (born January 17, 1942 in Louisville , Kentucky as Cassius Marcellus Clay , † June 3, 2016 in Scottsdale , Arizona ) was an American boxer and the only one who could win the title of undisputed world champion three times in his career. He was one of the most important heavyweight boxers and outstanding athletes of the 20th century and was voted "Sportsman of the Century" by the International Olympic Committee in 1999 . In particular, the boxing matches broadcast worldwide on TV in the 1970s with Joe Frazier (3 times, 1971-1975), Ken Norton (3 times, 1973-1976) and the Rumble in the Jungle against George Foreman (1974) are considered to be Classic among the heavyweight fights.

Ali also made headlines outside of the boxing ring. So he refused publicly to the Vietnam War from, refused military service, supported the emancipation movement of African Americans and joined the Nation of Islam in.

Childhood and first contact with boxing

Ali was born in 1942 under the name Cassius Clay as the first of two sons of the sign painter Cassius Marcellus Clay Sr. and his wife Odessa Grady Clay and grew up in poor conditions. Like his father, he was named Cassius Marcellus Clay after the politician and opponent of slavery , Cassius Marcellus Clay . Twelve-year-old Clay started boxing in 1954 out of anger about the theft of his bicycle - he hoped to get back at the thief if he caught him. He learned boxing in the boxing cellar of the policeman Joe Martin. The fights were broadcast on a local broadcaster on "Tomorrow's Champions". Another reason he mentions in his autobiography from 1975 is the murder of the youth Emmett Till by white racists and their acquittal. At the age of 16, Clay dropped out of school with poor grades and focused on his boxing training.


Career start

Award ceremony at the 1960 Summer Olympics

Within a few years, Clay won all national amateur titles . At the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome , he won the Olympic gold medal in the light heavyweight division . He turned professional that same year . He played his first professional fight on October 29, 1960.

Clay found that a wrestler named Gorgeous George caused more press and audience attention than a humble young boxer like him. Thereupon he began to copy George's style and from now on to provide the press with new material in the form of ridiculous rhymes ( trash talk ) about his opponents: predictions about the round of his knockout victory (“Archie Moore will be on the floor in round four "," Archie Moore will be on the floor in the fourth round ") and similar boastful remarks. With this provocatively displayed self-confidence, Clay soon became famous. Because his prophecies about the outcome often came true and opponents actually went down in the predicted rounds, he was even suspected of fraud for a while.

Promotion and first world championship (1964)

In February 1964 Clay got a world championship fight against Sonny Liston after he had defeated Doug Jones on points and Henry Cooper by knockout. Many journalists disliked Clay's self-assured manner and predicted a defeat against Liston, including Arthur Daley of the New York Times : “The irritatingly confident Cassius enters this bout with one trifling handicap. He can't fight as well as he can talk. ”(“ The irritatingly self-confident Cassius contests this title fight with an insignificant disadvantage. He can't fight as well as he can talk. ”).

Nevertheless, Clay, who was placed seven to one as an outsider, won due to an injury-related abandonment of his opponent after the sixth round. In tumultuous scenes after the victory, Clay kept shouting “I shook up the world!” And “I am the greatest!” Into the microphones. The pictures of him with his mouth and eyes wide open went around the world.

Later that year, Clay made his membership of the Nation of Islam public and chose Muhammad Ali as his name. In 1975 the boxer, who professed Sunni Islam, left the Nation of Islam .

The rematch against Liston

Muhammad Ali vs. Sonny Liston
The Fight Against Sonny Liston - Entry Ticket

In the rematch on May 25, 1965 in Lewiston, Maine, Liston was struck down by Ali in the first round after only 105 seconds of fighting by the so-called "Phantom Punch" ("Phantom Punch", also known as "Anchor Punch"), a short, hard, right cross on the temple or jaw , which had not been seen by Liston or by large parts of the audience. Ali then yelled at Liston, who was lying on the ground, with the words "Get up, you bum!" ("Come up, you bum!") And the referee, former world champion Jersey Joe Walcott , who was obviously overwhelmed with the situation, initially neither counted on nor off, as he tried to push the angry Ali standing and screaming away from Liston. The fight was then released again, but ended immediately after Nat Fleischer, the founder of Ring Magazine , pointed out to Walcott that Liston had been on the ground well over ten seconds.

The “Phantom Punch”, which was only seen by a few viewers, gave rise to speculation about a possible fraud, in conjunction with Liston's apparent invincibility and his dubious contacts with the Mafia , which on the other hand was doubted because of the obvious hostility between the two boxers. Liston had spoken to Clay's provocations before the first fight, saying that he intended to kill Clay. In his autobiography, Ali also opposed any such allegations and explicitly stated:

"The fact is that there has never been a fight less agreed than this."

- Muhammad Ali: The greatest. My story. P. 123.

In retrospect, film and photo recordings clearly showed that Liston was actually hit by Ali. However, it remained unclear how hard. You can clearly see the relaxed muscles of Liston's body during the fall, which suggests an unconsciousness at this point in time. Liston later explained, however, that although he was surprised by Ali's blow, he was not unconscious and only did not get up immediately because he was afraid of being hit again by Ali standing directly above him (instead of in the neutral corner). He would also have waited in vain for the referee to count.

At the moment when Ali is angry and screaming over the lying Liston, one of the most famous photos of Ali was taken, shot by Neil Leifer. This photo (actually a color picture, but became famous as a black and white picture) was later called by his biographer David Remnick "Ali wild and beautiful (...), perhaps (...) the most lasting picture of Ali in battle."

Career high point and loss of title (1967)

Ali in 1966

In the mid-1960s, Ali was at the height of his career. He met the Beatles and Elvis Presley and defended his title against ex-world champion Floyd Patterson , the then European champion Karl Mildenberger (who gave him a lot of problems until he gave up in the 12th round, after which Ali said afterwards, never box against him again to want), George Chuvalo , Henry Cooper , Brian London , Cleveland Williams , Ernie Terrell and Zora Folley .

Ali was extremely nimble, he often hung his hands next to his hips instead of using them for cover - that was provocative. However, his legs were so fast and his hips so flexible that he could swing almost every stroke. In fact, he was barely hit in the head, flirted with his looks and boasted that after "many fights he was still as pretty as a girl". With a quick dance leg combination called "Ali Shuffle" he amazed opponents and audience. Occasionally he was demonstratively beaten several times in a row in the well-trained side of the body without this showing any noticeable effects - apart from the fact that the opponent was demoralized.

In April 1967, Ali was stripped of his title after refusing to do military service. On the one hand, he cited his beliefs as decisive for his decision, but on the other hand he also addressed the question of the lack of equality for African Americans (“No, I will not help to murder and burn another poor nation 10,000 miles from home, only to help ensure the supremacy of white slave masters over the darker peoples of the world. "). With the well-known quote "No Viet Cong ever called me a nigger " he took up a phrase from student leader and civil rights activist Stokely Carmichael . Ali was sentenced to five years in prison and a US $ 10,000 fine for conscientious objection, but was released on bail. In 1970 the ban was lifted, until then he was not given a boxing license. His passport was confiscated and he was inactive for three years. During this time he appeared a lot on television, where he spoke out on socio-political issues. He was able to bridge financial problems thanks to the fees for television appearances and speeches in universities and other public institutions.

Comeback (1970–1974)

It wasn't until 1970 that Ali was allowed to step back into the ring. After victories against Jerry Quarry and Oscar Bonavena , he faced Joe Frazier , the now universally recognized and undefeated world champion. Since two undefeated heavyweight world champions faced each other for the first time in the history of boxing, the fight was soon referred to as the Fight of the Century and marketed accordingly. The interest in this reached far beyond the circle of boxing fans, as the two opponents represented different cultural currents. While Ali had become a symbol of the American counterculture with his sometimes provocative demeanor, his engagement against the Vietnam War and his advocacy for the emancipation of Afro-Americans , Frazier was viewed by parts of the American whites as a “good negro ” and therefore also as “ Uncle Tom “mocked. This triggered a deep bitterness in Frazier that went far beyond the struggle, which - despite mutual self-deprecating expressions of respect in the press conference after the " Thrilla in Manila " in 1975 - also dominated his autobiography (see there for further gestures of reconciliation).

In terms of sport, the fight, which took place on March 8, 1971 in New York's Madison Square Garden , lived up to the high expectations. Although Ali was able to deliver more punches in the early stages, benefiting from his superior range and Frazier's slow start, the impression that Frazier's punches became more effective as the fight went on, especially if he managed to get Ali on the ropes to urge, which happened more and more often. In the eleventh round Ali seemed close to precipitation, although he tried to cover it up with clowning. From then on, Frazier expanded his points lead to such an extent that Ali would have needed a knockout to win in the 15th round - although he himself was badly drawn . Instead, he had to go down himself after Frazier's left hook. Although he was able to save himself over time, there was no longer any doubt about Frazier's clear points victory at the latest from this point in time.

In June 1971, the Supreme Court lifted the 1967 ban and recognized the reasons Ali cited for his refusal to serve.

Nine months after losing to Frazier, Ali boxed in Europe for the first time in five years. On Boxing Day (December 26th) 1971 he fought in the Hallenstadion in Zurich against the future professional European champion Jürgen Blin from Hamburg. Ali brought him his first knockout in the seventh round. -Defeat at. The then internationally unknown loser received a fee of 180,000 DM.

After the Frazier defeat, Ali was forced to start all over again and earn the right to a new world championship fight by beating all other potential opponents of the world champion. Among them were the four world-class boxers Jimmy Ellis , Buster Mathis , Jerry Quarry and Floyd Patterson (he had defeated Quarry and Patterson before). After ten wins in a row, he suffered a second loss of points in a fight against Ken Norton in March 1973 . He even suffered a broken jaw, as it was later discovered. But Ali continued to fight, especially in and with the media, by turning his formerly known knocking into psychological warfare . Before fights , he and his supervisor Drew “Bundini” Brown shouted the motto “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” (“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee”), which illustrated Ali's earlier fighting style.

In September 1973, Ali and Norton took revenge. This time too, Norton fought very aggressively and caused Ali enormous difficulties until the end. But Ali succeeded in the last two laps, the tired Norton with targeted right-left combinations. In a wafer-thin and controversial split decision , two of the three judges decided in favor of Ali. In January 1974, Ali won the important rematch against the now dethroned Joe Frazier. The fight was marketed as a super fight , but couldn't keep up with the quality of the other fights. This time the judges narrowly but unanimously voted for Ali. The fight was nowhere near the class of the 1971 one, but it cleared the way for the challenge of reigning world champion Foreman.

"Rumble in the Jungle" (1974)

George Foreman , the 1968 heavyweight Olympic champion, was unbeaten in 40 professional fights and knocked out most of his opponents - including Frazier and Norton - within a few rounds. Like ten years earlier against Liston, Ali was the outsider, this time also the older at 32. It was widely expected that Ali's career would end with a quick and clear knockout blow.

The fight was scheduled for the autumn of 1974 in Kinshasa (Zaïre, today: Democratic Republic of the Congo ) and was known as the so-called "Rumble in the Jungle". It was organized by the black boxing promoter Don King . The main motive of the American organizers for relocating the fight abroad was that the income flowing from it was tax-free under the DTA legal situation at the time between the United States and Zaïre. It was largely financed by the dictator Mobutu Sese Seko , who used the fight as a promotional measure for Zaire and Africa. The fight had to be postponed for five weeks due to an injury to Foremans, with all parties remaining in the country. While Foreman made himself unpopular with the residents by performing with a German Shepherd , which reminded the local population of incidents from the Belgian colonial era , Ali brought the residents to his side through sociability and charisma. These fired him everywhere, e.g. For example, if you saw him running on the streets with the battle cry “Ali, boma ye!” (“Ali, kill him!”).

Muhammad Ali (1974)

In addition, the break gave Ali time for psychological games, with which he challenged Foreman and the public to comment. Ali's announcement that he would again “fly like a butterfly and sting like a bee” was legendary. In various press conferences, the ex-champion announced that he would destroy his opponent through speed and intelligence.

In the fight itself, which finally took place on October 30th, Ali surprised opponents and the audience, as well as his own coaches and supervisors, with his tactics. In the first two rounds Ali beat twelve times with the right hand in the form of " Crosses " to the head of his younger counterparts. Ali's trainer Angelo Dundee interpreted the action to mean that Ali tried to end the fight early in the first two rounds. In the first two breaks, while he was sitting or standing in the corner, he obviously realized that he would not be able to defeat this physically superior opponent under normal circumstances.

Therefore, he intuitively changed his tactics: instead of - as before - trying to use speed and light-footed evasive maneuvers to let hard hits from his opponent run into nothing, he now let Foreman voluntarily push him into the ropes and leaned his upper body far back. This meant that his head was almost always out of Foreman's reach and his chest was protected by permanent double coverage with his forearms. In addition, the relatively loosely tensioned ropes cushioned the force of the blows - this tactic is known today as " rope-a-dope ". While “Big George” beat him furiously, Ali kept talking to him and audibly provoked him with sentences like: “Is that all, George? I expected more! Is that all you can do? "

During the breaks in the fight, the court ordered an attempt to tension the ropes, but Ali continued his tactics undeterred, even though his coach kept shouting to him to get off the ropes. Ali, however, sought Foreman's closeness and continued to verbally incite him. Foreman hit Ali's body mercilessly, but without achieving a decisive impact. Ali clung quite often and otherwise avoided a variety of blows to the head by avoiding movements. In addition, Ali's outstanding fitness came to the fore as he apparently put up with body hits unimpressed.

Foreman soon lost his stamina and Ali was now able to put himself in the limelight better and better from cover with counterattacks. From around the fourth lap he began - shortly before still "lying on the ropes" - increasingly attacking his opponent with precise and fast combinations; A right cross to the Foreman's head at the end of the fifth round is the direction for the further course of the fight. Up to the eighth round, Ali pursued his tactic of leaning on the ropes until the middle of the round, in order to set his precise and quickly beaten combinations towards the end of the rounds, which always left an increasing physical and, above all, psychological effect on Foreman.

At the end of the eighth round, Ali knocked Foreman down with two quick left-right combinations and a total of nine consecutive head hits; the last and victorious blow hit him on the right temple. Foreman staggered, spun halfway on his own axis, and while he sank to the ground, Ali's twitching fists showed that he was obviously considering landing another head hit to be on the safe side, but he failed to do so. His trainer Angelo Dundee once said in a later interview: "Ali left the fall of this colossus with the failure to strike its dramaturgical beauty". Foreman was tallied and Ali was world champion again.

Ali had regained the title that had been withdrawn from him for political reasons seven years earlier, breaking the unwritten law of boxing as the second heavyweight professional after Floyd Patterson : They never come back!

Title defenses

Ali's first title defense took place against the hitherto relatively unknown Chuck Wepner . Wepner lasted until the 15th round, but lost due to technical knockout. The fight later served Sylvester Stallone , who visited Wepner in prison, as the inspiration for the film Rocky .

After Ali vs. Ron Lyle and Joe Bugner had his world title to defend, the third fight took place on October 1, 1975 Joe Frazier in Manila ( Philippines ) instead, which is modeled on the "Rumble in the Jungle" and " Thrilla in Manila " was marketed and is still considered to be one of the best heavyweight fights ever. The battle, which was conducted with great intensity, took a dramatic turn, as Ali, after initially clearly superior, increasingly had to leave the field to Frazier before he managed to regain the upper hand in the last few laps. Frazier's coach Eddie Futch canceled the fight after round 14, as his protégé's eyes were almost completely swollen by that point. Frazier also suffered from clouding of the lens, a previously unknown condition. Shortly after the end of the fight, which was held in the USA in the morning at 40 ° C because of the optimal TV broadcasting time in the evening, Ali suffered a circulatory collapse. Neither he nor Frazier could ever match the level of performance shown in this fight.

An exhibition match on June 26, 1976 in Japan against the Japanese wrestler and MMA pioneer Antonio Inoki turned out to be embarrassing for Ali, because Inoki, unlike Ali, did not see the show as a staging, but wanted to defeat Ali and a strategy for the fight which Ali could not find an antidote to. In fact, the rules were rewritten for the fight: Inoki, who was called "pelican" by Ali because of his pronounced chin, fought without gloves and was not allowed to knock Ali over, use handholds, not run over - and not kick unless he had one knee has on the ring bottom. Inoki fought almost the entire fight from the ground so as not to be a target for Ali, concentrating solely on kicking him. After a few laps, the first bloody marks appeared on Ali's legs. After 15 rounds, the fight for Ali, who had only delivered six punches, ended in a "draw", as Inoki was deducted three points for three fouls. After the fight, many of the 13,000 spectators at Nippon Budōkan asked for their money back. The exhibition match was organized by Bob Arum . Ali, who accepted the fight for the money, was paid $ 6 million. Inoki received $ 4 million.

In 1976 Ali won against Jean-Pierre Coopman , Jimmy Young and Richard Dunn . On September 20, 1976 he faced a third time against Ken Norton , who again caused great problems and, according to most journalists, also won the fight; however, the judges voted unanimously for Ali. For experts, however, it was obvious that his boxing qualities had clearly declined. The fight was broadcast on television in Germany by ZDF and achieved an audience rating of 34 percent.

After two title defenses in 1977 against Earnie Shavers and Alfredo Evangelista , Ali boxed on February 15, 1978 against Leon Spinks , who was an Olympic light heavyweight champion in 1976, but had only contested seven fights as a professional and scored six wins and one draw. Ali apparently did not take Spinks seriously and entered the ring untrained and overweight - and the unknown opponent took his two titles from him completely surprisingly.

Ali in an interview with Curt Anderson (1978)

Although the WBC initially called for a fight against Ken Norton , Spinks granted Ali a direct rematch for the WBA title. Exactly seven months later, on September 15, 1978, the now visibly better trained Ali won a third and last time a world championship title, breaking Floyd Patterson's record. Ali boxed much better than in the first fight, but this time Spinks was completely untrained, which is why his trainer George Benton left the hall during the fight.

After this victory, 36-year-old Ali announced his retirement from boxing. By this point his pronunciation had become slurred as a result of his Parkinson's disease.

End of career

In the fall of 1980 Ali tried to become world champion for the fourth time, this time against his former sparring partner Larry Holmes . The promoter was Don King . Ali had no chance, could not score a single impact and was only saved from knockdown by the obvious reluctance of his opponent. After ten rounds, Ali's coach ended the fight, which caused him to suffer his first and only premature defeat. Since he did not want to end his career in this way, but was no longer allowed to box in the USA, his last fight against Trevor Berbick took place on December 11, 1981 as "Drama in the Bahamas ". At this point Ali was already marked by his illness and was clearly losing on points, although in rare moments remnants of his earlier boxing skills flashed up.

List of professional fights

56 wins (37 knockout wins), 5 defeats , 0 draws
year Day place opponent Result for Ali
1960 October 29th United StatesUnited States Freedom Hall , Louisville, USA United StatesUnited States Tunney Hunsaker Points victory (unanimously) / 6 rounds
December 27th United StatesUnited States Auditorium, Miami Beach, USA United StatesUnited States Herb Siler Victory / TKO 4th round
1961 January 17th United StatesUnited States Auditorium, Miami Beach, USA United StatesUnited States Tony Esperti Victory / TKO 3rd round
February 7th United StatesUnited States Convention Center, Miami Beach, USA United StatesUnited States Jimmy Robinson Victory / KO 1st round
21st of February United StatesUnited States Auditorium, Miami Beach, USA United StatesUnited States Donnie Fleeman Victory / abandonment 6th round
April 19th United StatesUnited States Freedom Hall , Louisville, USA United StatesUnited States LaMar Clark Victory / KO 2nd round
June 26th United StatesUnited States Convention Center, Las Vegas, USA United StatesUnited States Duke Sabedong Points victory (unanimously) / 10 rounds
22nd of July United StatesUnited States Freedom Hall , Louisville, USA United StatesUnited States Alonzo Johnson Points victory (unanimously) / 10 rounds
October 7th United StatesUnited States Freedom Hall , Louisville, USA ArgentinaArgentina Alex Mitreff Victory / TKO 6th round
November 29th United StatesUnited States Freedom Hall , Louisville, USA GermanyGermany Willi Besmanoff Victory / TKO 7th round
1962 February 10th United StatesUnited States Madison Square Garden , New York, USA United StatesUnited States Sonny Banks Victory / TKO 4th round
February 28 United StatesUnited States Convention Center, Miami Beach, USA United StatesUnited States Don Warner Victory / TKO 4th round
April 23 United StatesUnited States Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena , Los Angeles, USA United StatesUnited States George Logan Victory / TKO 4th round
May 19 United StatesUnited States St. Nicholas Arena, New York, USA United StatesUnited States Billy Daniels Victory / TKO 7th round
20th of July United StatesUnited States Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena , Los Angeles, USA ArgentinaArgentina Alejandro Lavorante Victory / KO 5th round
15th of November United StatesUnited States Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena , Los Angeles, USA United StatesUnited States Archie Moore Victory / TKO 4th round
1963 January 24th United StatesUnited States Civic Arena , Pittsburgh, USA United StatesUnited States Charlie Powell Victory / KO 3rd round
March 13th United StatesUnited States Madison Square Garden , New York, USA United StatesUnited States Doug Jones Points victory (unanimously) / 10 rounds
18th of June United KingdomUnited Kingdom Wembley Stadium , London, UK United KingdomUnited Kingdom Henry Cooper Victory / TKO 5th round
1964 February 25th United StatesUnited States Convention Center, Miami Beach, USA United StatesUnited States Sonny Liston
WBA / WBC World Heavyweight Championship
Victory / abandonment 6th round
1965 25. May United StatesUnited States Central Maine Civic Center, Lewiston, USA United StatesUnited States Sonny Liston
WBC heavyweight title defense
Victory / KO 1st round
22nd of November United StatesUnited States Convention Center, Las Vegas, USA United StatesUnited States Floyd Patterson
WBC heavyweight title defense
Victory / TKO 12th round
1966 March 29th CanadaCanada Maple Leaf Gardens , Toronto, Canada CanadaCanada George Chuvalo
WBC heavyweight title defense
Points victory (unanimous) / 15 rounds
May 21 United KingdomUnited Kingdom Arsenal Stadium, London, UK United KingdomUnited Kingdom Henry Cooper
WBC heavyweight title defense
Victory / TKO 6th round
6th of August United KingdomUnited Kingdom Earls Court Exhibition Center , London, UK United KingdomUnited Kingdom Brian London
WBC heavyweight title defense
Victory / TKO 3rd round
September 10 Germany BRBR Germany Waldstadion , Frankfurt, Germany GermanyGermany Karl Mildenberger
WBC heavyweight title defense
Victory / TKO 12th round
14th November United StatesUnited States Astrodome , Houston, USA United StatesUnited States Cleveland Williams
WBC heavyweight title defense
Victory / TKO 3rd round
1967 February 6th United StatesUnited States Astrodome , Houston, USA United StatesUnited States Ernie Terrell
WBA / WBC Heavyweight Title Association
Points victory (unanimous) / 15 rounds
March 22 United StatesUnited States Madison Square Garden , New York, USA United StatesUnited States Zora Folley
WBA / WBC heavyweight title defense
Victory / KO 7th round
1970 October 26th United StatesUnited States City Auditorium, Atlanta, USA United StatesUnited States Jerry Quarry Victory / abandonment 3rd round
December 7th United StatesUnited States Madison Square Garden , New York, USA ArgentinaArgentina Oscar Bonavena
NABF Heavyweight Championship
Victory / TKO 15th round
1971 8th of March United StatesUnited States Madison Square Garden , New York, USA United StatesUnited States Joe Frazier
WBA / WBC World Heavyweight Championship
Loss of points (unanimously) / 15 rounds
July 26th United StatesUnited States Astrodome , Houston, USA United StatesUnited States Jimmy Ellis
NABF Heavyweight Championship
Victory / TKO 12th round
November 17th United StatesUnited States Astrodome , Houston, USA United StatesUnited States Buster Mathis
NABF Heavyweight Title Defense
Points victory (unanimously) / 12 rounds
December 26th SwitzerlandSwitzerland Hallenstadion , Zurich, Switzerland GermanyGermany Jürgen Blin Victory / KO 7th round
1972 April 1st JapanJapan Nippon Budōkan , Tokyo, Japan United StatesUnited States Mac Foster Points victory (unanimous) / 15 rounds
1st of May CanadaCanada Pacific Coliseum , Vancouver, Canada CanadaCanada George Chuvalo
NABF Heavyweight Title Defense
Points victory (unanimously) / 12 rounds
June 27th United StatesUnited States Convention Center, Las Vegas, USA United StatesUnited States Jerry Quarry
NABF Heavyweight Title Defense
Victory / TKO 7th round
July 19th IrelandIreland Croke Park , Dublin, Ireland United StatesUnited States Alvin Lewis Victory / TKO 11th round
September 20th United StatesUnited States Madison Square Garden , New York, USA United StatesUnited States Floyd Patterson
NABF Heavyweight Title Defense
Victory / abandonment 7th round
21st November United StatesUnited States Sahara Tahoe Hotel, Stateline, USA United StatesUnited States Bob Foster
NABF Heavyweight Title Defense
Victory / KO 8th round
1973 14th of February United StatesUnited States Convention Center, Las Vegas, USA AustraliaAustralia Joe Bugner Points victory (unanimously) / 12 rounds
March 31 United StatesUnited States San Diego Sports Arena , San Diego, USA United StatesUnited States Ken Norton
NABF Heavyweight Title Defense
Point loss (split decision) / 12 rounds
September 10 United StatesUnited States The Forum , Inglewood, USA United StatesUnited States Ken Norton
NABF Heavyweight Championship
Points win (split decision) / 12 rounds
the 20th of October IndonesiaIndonesia Gelora Bung Karno Stadium , Jakarta, Indonesia NetherlandsNetherlands Rudi Lubbers Points victory (unanimously) / 12 rounds
1974 January 28th United StatesUnited States Madison Square Garden , New York, USA United StatesUnited States Joe Frazier
NABF Heavyweight Title Defense
Points victory (unanimously) / 12 rounds
30th of October ZaireZaire Stade Tata Raphaël , Kinshasa, Zaire United StatesUnited States George Foreman
WBA / WBC World Heavyweight Championship
Victory / KO 8th round
1975 March 24th United StatesUnited States Richfield Coliseum , Richfield, USA United StatesUnited States Chuck Wepner
WBA / WBC heavyweight title defense
Victory / KO 15th round
May 16 United StatesUnited States Convention Center, Las Vegas, USA United StatesUnited States Ron Lyle
WBA / WBC Heavyweight Title Defense
Victory / TKO 11th round
June 30th MalaysiaMalaysia Merdeka Stadium , Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia United StatesUnited States Joe Bugner
WBA / WBC Heavyweight Title Defense
Points victory (unanimous) / 15 rounds
October 1 PhilippinesPhilippines Araneta Coliseum , Quezon City, Philippines United StatesUnited States Joe Frazier
WBA / WBC Heavyweight Title Defense
Victory / abandonment 14th round
1976 20. February Puerto RicoPuerto Rico Coliseo Roberto Clemente, San Juan, Puerto Rico BelgiumBelgiumJean-Pierre Coopman
WBA heavyweight title defense
Victory / KO 5th round
April, 30th United StatesUnited States Capital Center , Landover, USA United StatesUnited States Jimmy Young
WBA / WBC heavyweight title defense
Points victory (unanimous) / 15 rounds
May 24th Germany BRBR Germany Olympiahalle , Munich, Germany United KingdomUnited Kingdom Richard Dunn
WBA / WBC heavyweight title defense
Victory / TKO 5th round
September 28th United StatesUnited States Yankee Stadium , New York, USA United StatesUnited States Ken Norton
WBA / WBC Heavyweight Title Defense
Points victory (unanimous) / 15 rounds
1977 May 16 United StatesUnited States Capital Center , Landover, USA UruguayUruguay Alfredo Evangelista
WBA / WBC heavyweight title defense
Points victory (unanimous) / 15 rounds
September 29th United StatesUnited States Madison Square Garden , New York, USA United StatesUnited States Earnie Shavers
WBA / WBC heavyweight title defense
Points victory (unanimous) / 15 rounds
1978 February 15th United StatesUnited States Hilton Hotels , Las Vegas, USA United StatesUnited States Leon Spinks
WBA / WBC heavyweight title defense
Point loss (split decision) / 15 rounds
September 15th United StatesUnited States Mercedes-Benz Superdome , New Orleans, USA United StatesUnited States Leon Spinks
WBA World Heavyweight Championship
Points victory (unanimous) / 15 rounds
1980 October 2nd United StatesUnited States Caesars Palace , Las Vegas, USA United StatesUnited States Larry Holmes
WBC World Heavyweight Championship
Defeat / abandon 10th round
1981 11th December BahamasBahamas Queen Elizabeth Sports Center, Nassau, Bahamas JamaicaJamaica Trevor Berbick Loss of points (unanimously) / 10 rounds
Source: Muhammad Ali in the BoxRec database


As an amateur

As a professional

  • Undisputed world heavyweight champion (3): 1964, 1967, 1974–1978
  • Linear heavyweight world champion (3): 1964–1970, 1974–1978, 1978–1979
  • Ring Magazine heavyweight world champion (3): 1964–1971, 1974–1978, 1978–1979
  • NYSAC World Heavyweight Champion (1): 1964–1967
  • WBA heavyweight champion (4): 1964, 1967, 1974–1978, 1978–1979
  • WBC heavyweight champion (2): 1964–1969, 1974–1978
  • NABF North American Heavyweight Champion (3): 1970–1971, 1971, 1973–1974



Africa trips and conscientious objection

Ali's career allowed him to travel through Egypt, Nigeria and Ghana in May 1964, where he also met politicians like Kwame Nkrumah .

In 1964, Ali was declared unfit for military service by the US Army . However, this classification was later revised and Ali should have entered the military service that would likely have led him into the Vietnam War . But Ali refused to use the weapon, which was considered a criminal offense in the US because the right to conscientious objection did not exist in the United States. He was then banned from fighting in the United States by withdrawing his boxing license.

On behalf of Jimmy Carter , he visited Africa in 1980 to advertise a boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan .

Confession to Islam

After the fight against Liston in 1964, Clay also publicly supported the “ Nation of Islam ” and represented the racist ideology of Black Supremacy . The religious, separatist African-American organization was founded by Wallace Fard Muhammad in 1930 and led by Elijah Muhammad , who fought hard with his former protégé Malcolm X, in the 1950s and early 1960s . Cassius Clay put his "slave name" off, as he said, and called himself Muhammad Ali. In 1975 he professed Islam .

Private life

In 1964 he married the photo model Sonji Roi (1946–2005), only 41 days after he had met her on August 14, 1964. Roi had previously converted to Islam. The marriage lasted two years and divorced in 1966 under pressure from the leader of the Nation of Islam, Elijah Muhammad . The reason was Sonji Roi's too western attitude in the eyes of the Islamic extremists. In 1967 Ali married his second wife Belinda Boyd (* 1950; later name: Khalilah Camacho-Ali), with whom he has four of his nine children (Maryum, Muhammad Junior, Rasheda and Jamillah). In 1975, Ali separated from Belinda after having had a relationship with Veronica Porché (* 1955), whom he married in 1977, for several months. Their daughter Laila has also decided on a career as a professional boxer. The second daughter, Hana Yasmeen, is a writer and has published several books about her father.

In 1985, Ali married Yolanda Williams , whom he had known since childhood (Ali was her occasional babysitter), and together they adopted a child named Asaad. At this point his illness was well advanced.

Muhammad Ali also has two other children from out of wedlock circumstances.

Parkinson's Disease and Death

Muhammad Ali with US President Ronald Reagan (1983)

In 1984 Ali was diagnosed with Parkinson's Syndrome . Ali's illness is often associated with boxing, but this has never been proven. Since his mental abilities were hardly impaired, he continued to take part in public life around the world and was involved in charitable causes. Among other things, he was committed to understanding between the Western and Islamic world, for example in negotiations on the release of hostages in Lebanon , or in November 1990 on the occasion of a visit to Saddam Hussein , whereupon he released 15 “ human shields ”. Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 in particular , he has acted as an ambassador of his faith and represented the peaceful aspects of Islam.

Ali (2006)

Ali died of septic shock on June 3, 2016, at the age of 74 in a Scottsdale, Arizona hospital where he was being treated for breathing problems . After his death, the flags were hoisted at half-mast in his hometown.

Ali's death received global sympathy from the sports world. But there were also expressions of condolences from other areas, such as the President of the United States, Barack Obama .

Ali's funeral took place on June 10th in his native Louisville. Former US President Bill Clinton gave the funeral speech , which earned him massive criticism from the conservative side because of Muhammad Ali's conscientious objection. The two former heavyweight world champions Lennox Lewis and Mike Tyson and the actor Will Smith , who played Ali in a 2001 biography, were among the pallbearers. Before that, an estimated hundred thousand people had said goodbye to him on the streets of Louisville. The 30-kilometer funeral procession drove past stages in Ali's life. He found his final resting place in the Cave Hill Cemetery .

Ali in popular culture and media

Ali became known around the world by the mid-1970s at the latest, which at the time also had an impact on toys in German children's rooms, for example. There were variants of the Mattel (and Mego ) Big Jim dolls that could be used to recreate the fights of Ali against Foreman and Frazier. In 1978, in a special edition on the superhero Superman , the duel " Superman vs. Muhammad Ali " took place in comic form .

At the end of the 1970s, at the height of his career, a German fruit juice manufacturer, at that time hardly known internationally, managed to have Muhammad Ali advertise his product Capri-Sonne for years . Print advertising and TV spots that were used around the world attracted a great deal of attention at the time, as it was still unusual in Germany to advertise with international sports stars.

On May 22, 1976, a show boxing match with the candidates was recorded in the television show Amlauf Band at Rudi Carrell . This was recorded on May 19, 1976 in the Munich Circus Krone Bau . Ali trained there for a few days in front of up to 1,500 paying spectators to prepare for his world championship match against Richard Dunn , which took place on May 24th in the Munich Olympic Hall . The advance of several days was also used to compose his book The Biggest. Muhammad Ali. My story. to advertise, which was published in German at the time.

In 1977 the documentary I am the greatest , directed by Tom Gries and Monte Hellman , was released.

Ali kept joking about his supposedly upcoming comeback. When his former opponent George Foreman sensationally won a world title again in 1994 after 20 years, the 52-year-old Ali announced that he wanted to beat the seven-year-old Foreman again as he had in 1974. Irritated by Foreman's unexpected successes, daily newspapers actually carried this message in the sports section instead of in the panorama.

In 1996, the documentary was When We Were Kings of Leon Gast completed on the preparations of the "Rumble in the Jungle" and organized concerts with the Oscar for the Best Documentary award. In 2001, Ali's life story was filmed by Michael Mann under the title Ali . The main actor Will Smith was nominated for an Oscar , the theme song The World's Greatest by R. Kelly became a worldwide hit.

In the spring of 2004, Muhammad Ali was the star of an advertising campaign for the sporting goods manufacturer adidas , in which various current athletes appeared under the motto “Impossible is nothing” , including the soccer star David Beckham . The commercial "The Long Run" was based on recordings from When We Were Kings, which were made in Africa before the 1974 World Cup . Ali jogged at dawn as the leader of a group of modern sports stars that were electronically copied.

In a second commercial, Ali's daughter Laila competed against her father, copied back into old recordings.



Muhammad Ali receives an honorary doctorate from Princeton University (2007)



  • Muhammad Ali: The greatest. My story. Droemer Knaur, Munich 1976 ISBN 3-426-05600-3 .
  • Muhammad Ali, Hana Yasmeen Ali: The Soul of a Butterfly: Reflections on Life's Journey. Simon & Schuster, 2004.
  • Muhammad Ali: GOAT - A Tribute to Muhammad Ali (The Greatest of All Time). Taschen Verlag, Cologne 2010 ISBN 3-8228-1627-2 .
  • Thomas Hauser, Muhammad Ali: Muhammad Ali: ICH. My life. My struggles. Bombus Verlag, Munich 2011, ISBN 978-3-936261-70-7 .



Web links

Commons : Muhammad Ali  - Collection of Pictures, Videos and Audio Files

Individual evidence

  1. a b A.J. Perez, Josh Peter: Boxing legend Muhammad Ali dies at 74. In: USA Today . June 4, 2016, Retrieved June 4, 2016.
  2. a b "rasscass BIOGRAPHIES; Muhammad Ali “ article on Focus Online .
  3. Muhammad Ali, Hana Yasmeen Ali: With the Heart of a Butterfly. My thoughts on life. Bastei Verlag, Cologne, 2005, p. 52 f.
  4. The greatest. My story.
  5. Biography for Muhammad Ali Article in the Internet Movie Database.
  6. a b “OOOPS!” ( Memento from October 30, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) Article in Boxing Monthly .
  7. In the Name of Allah, most Compassionate, most Merciful - Muhammad Ali, formerly Cassius Clay ( Memento of October 1, 2005 in the Internet Archive )
  8. a b David Remnick: "King of the World", p. 402.
  9. color image
  10. No I'm not going 10,000 miles from home to help murder and burn another poor nation simply to continue the domination of white slave masters of the darker people the world over. Quoted from: David Zirin: Revolt of the Black athlete - The hidden history of Muhammad Ali In: International Socialist Review , Ed. 33, January – February 2004, ( [1] ).
  11. ^ Peter Kemper: Muhammad Ali. Life, work, effect. Suhrkamp BasisBiographie, Berlin 2010, ISBN 978-3-518-18245-1 , p. 45.
  12. Clay, aka Ali v. United States 1966–1971 (accessed June 6, 2016).
  13. Michele Coviello: The worst enemy is boredom. In: Spiegel Online , December 26, 2011.
  14. Gunnar Meinhardt : "I prayed not to kill Ali" In: Die Welt , October 26, 2014 (interview with George Foreman ).
  15. Quoted from Süddeutsche Zeitung online on June 4, 2016 (accessed on June 6, 2016).
  16. cf. B. Reemtsma: More than a champion , here the Rocky chapter , which interprets the first five films in the series.
  17. Alex Raack, DER SPIEGEL: Legendary show fight in Japan: When Muhammad Ali struck only six times in 15 rounds - DER SPIEGEL - history. Retrieved June 26, 2020 .
  18. The Sweet Science (February 20, 2005): The Joke That Almost Ended Ali's Career ( Memento from September 3, 2009 in the Internet Archive )
  19. ZDF yearbook 1976
  20. Hartmut Scherzer: The “Athlete of the Century” turns 65 ( memento from June 6, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung , January 17, 2007.
  21. Stephen R. Wenn, Jeffrey P. Wenn: Muhammad Ali and the Convergence of Olympic Sport and US Diplomacy in 1980: A Reassessment from Behind the Scenes at the US State Department , in: Olympika. The International Journal of Olympic Studies , Volume II (1993), pp. 45-66.
  22. Clay Says He Has Adopted Islam Religion and Regards It as Way to Peace. In: The New York Times , February 28, 1964.
  23. ^ Jonatha Eig: The Real Reason Muhammad Ali Converted To Islam . NDTV October 27, 2017.
  24. But no Parkinson's from boxing? In Scinexx , March 31, 2008.
  25. Ingo Neumayer: How dangerous is boxing for your health? In: Planet Wissen , June 1, 2009.
  26. Muhammad Ali is buried on Friday. In: Spiegel Online , June 4, 2016.
  27. ^ Public memorial service and funeral of Muhammad Ali on Friday in Louisville. In: The world . June 5, 2016, Retrieved June 5, 2016 .
  28. Obama: "Ali fought for us all!" In: Bild . Retrieved June 5, 2016 .
  29. This is how the world reacts to the death of Muhammad Ali. In: BZ Retrieved June 5, 2016 .
  30. Tens of thousands say goodbye to Muhammad Ali. | In: Spiegel Online , June 10, 2016.
  31. The grave of Muhammad Ali. In: Klaus Nerger, accessed on January 17, 2019 .
  32. ^ Christian Deutsch: World brand made in Eppelheim. In: , December 10, 2003.
  33. Excerpt from the TV show "On the run" from May 22, 1976 with a show fight between the quiz candidates and Ali in the Circus Krone
  34. Rybarczyk, Christoph: He was the greatest, In: Hamburger Abendblatt, June 6, 2016, p. 8
  35. ^ The Irish Times : Ali made Freeman of Ennis , September 1, 2009.
  36. Muhammad Ali's most important stages in life. In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung , January 15, 2002.
This version was added to the list of articles worth reading on January 19, 2007 .