The greatest of all time, he really was. Muhammad Ali may be deceased, but his legacy will live on forever. He set some of the best records in boxing game history.
Ali’s career was not without its flaws, but in the end he overcame them to become an iconic figure not only in sports but also in politics as an activist in the civil rights movement.
Follow us as you discuss his life journey and we shed some light on his personal life, especially as it relates to his family. spouse and children.
Muhammad Ali Biography
Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. was the name given to Ali when he was born on January 17, 1942, in Louisville, Kentucky. However, in 1964, he converted to Islam and adopted the name of Muhammad Ali, citing in particular his former name as a slave.
Initially, Ali had never aspired to become a boxer until an encounter he had at the age of 12 when a bully got away with his bicycle.
An enraged Ali was approached by a policeman named Joe E. Martin who told him he could channel that rage into becoming a boxer so nothing like this could ever happen to him again. Ali readily agreed and began training under Officer Martin.
It wasn’t long before his boxing skills began to earn him some recognition. He won $4 for his first televised fight on local television. Driven by a passion to make more money, Ali sought to become even better at the sport. However, he did not neglect his education; He graduated from Central High School in Kentucky in 1958.
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Ali went on to stage an impressive amateur career recording 100 wins and 3 losses. During the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, Ali further established himself by winning the gold medal in the light heavyweight division. He was 18 at the time. Later, in 1960, Ali turned professional.
During the first three years of his professional career, Ali remained undefeated with 19 wins including 15 knockouts. His first breakthrough as a professional boxer was in 1964, when as a loser he won the lineal heavyweight title after beating champion Sonny Liston. Ali, 22 at the time, became the youngest boxer to win the title of a champion.
All the while, Ali remained as an outspoken activist who was unafraid to voice his opposition on political issues. Ali opposed America’s involvement in the Vietnam War and eventually refused to be drafted into the army, citing his religious beliefs.
As a result, he found himself on the wrong side of the law and convicted of tax evasion with the securities stripped from him. Ali would spend the next five years from 1966 to 1971 behind bars, ending his fledgling career.
Upon his return in 1971, Ali returned to winning ways, winning his first fight. At the second attempt, Ali regained the world heavyweight title after defeating George Foreman in the 1974 fight called ‘The Rumble in the Jungle’. “Thrilla in Manila.”
He lost the title in 1978 to Leon Spinks, but regained it later that same year in a rematch to become the only professional boxer to win the lineal heavyweight championship three times.
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Ali announced his retirement in 1979, but returned despite poor health. He finally hung up his gloves in 1981, recording 61 total fights, 56 wins (37 by KO) 5 losses.
Ali was named RingYear magazine’s fighter a record 6 times, the highest ever by a boxer. Known for his talking rhymes and iconic trashy words, Ali dabbled in music releasing 2 spoken word albums including a song. He earned 2 Grammy nominations. Ali wrote 2 autobiographies and acted in several films.
In 1984, Ali had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. He was successful until his death on June 3, 2016. He was 74 years old.
Ali founded GOAT LLC, which managed all of his endorsements and license agreements. In 2006, he sold 80% of the company for $50 million while retaining the remaining 20%, which had an estimated annual income of $5 million. At the time of his death, Ali had an estimated net worth of $50 million. However, around 2012, its figures reached $80 million.
Ali was born to parents Cassius Marcellus Clay Sr. (1912-1990) and Odessa O’Grady Clay (1917-1994). Her family is mainly of African descent with traces of Irish and English. His descendants can be traced back to slaves in the Antebellum South.
Ali’s father painted billboards for money; his mother worked as a domestic helper. He had five siblings, including one sister and four brothers. Alongside his siblings, Ali was raised as a Baptist. His younger brother Rudolph “Rudy” Clay joins him in adopting the surname Ali.
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Muhammad Ali was married four times in his lifetime. He had a total of 9 children including 2 sons and 7 daughters. His first marriage was in 1964 to cocktail waitress Sonji Roi. Their wedding had happened about a month after their release. However, the marriage was only short-lived as they divorced in January 1966. They had no children together.
In 1967, Ali married his second wife, 17-year-old Belinda Boyd, who converted to Islam after converting to Islam and took the name Khalilah Camacho-Ali.
They had four children together, including Maryum (born in 1968), twins Jamillah and Liban (born in 1970) and Muhammad Ali Jr., born in 1972. After about nine years together, they divorced in 1976.
While still married to Khalilah, Ali began engaging in extramarital affairs, first with a 16-year-old girl named Wanda Bolton. Ali married her in an unrecognized Islamic ceremony while still married to his second wife. Wanda would then change her name to Aaisha Ali. Together they had a daughter named Khalilah Ali, born in 1974.
In another affair with Patricia Harvell, Ali had a daughter named Miya. Ali also cheated on his second wife with 18-year-old actress and model Veronica Porsche.
After finalizing her divorce from Khalilah, Ali married Veronica in 1977. They had two daughters; Hana (married to UFC fighter Kevin Casey) and Laila Ali. Laila had professional success in boxing from 1999 to 2007. She won her 24 fights, 21 of which were knockouts.
Veronica and Ali divorced in 1986. In the same year, Ali married his fourth wife, Yolanda Williams. They adopted a 5-month-old boy named Asaad Amin. Later in their marriage, Yolanda, a Catholic who converted to Islam. She was in her twenties at the time of the conversion. Ali and Yolanda remained married until his death.
Ali’s second wife, Khalilah Ali, revealed that Alieu had several extramarital affairs and illegitimate children. Kiiursti Mensah-Ali claimed to be Ali’s daughter for his relationship with 20-year-old Barbara Mensah.