Today marks what would have been the 75th birthday of one of the 20th century’s most significant and celebrated sports figures, Muhammad Ali.
Born Cassius Clay Jr in 1942 in the Southern U.S. state of Kentucky, Ali began his rise to fame in 1960 when he won a gold medal in light heavyweight division of the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome. Four years later, he truly shot to superstardom after winning the WBA, WBC and lineal heavyweight titles. It was also during the late 1960s that he changed his name to Muhammed Ali, describing “Cassius Clay” as his “slave name”.
While mostly recognised for his efforts in the boxing ring, Ali was the voice behind quotes such as “float like a butterfly, and sting like a bee”. He was also a keen activist for black Americans’ civil rights, and strongly opposed the United States’ involvement in the Vietnam conflict, making him an icon of counterculture.
Ali hung up his boxing gloves in 1981, and in 1984 was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, a result of decades spent in the boxing ring. Over the next 32 years, he yet again showed his fighting spirit in combatting the disease, until he passed away on June 3, 2016. On average, sufferers live between seven and 14 years after diagnosis.
To celebrate his birthday, Bored Panda has found a selection of photographs to document Ali’s remarkable life as an athlete, an activist, and an inspiration to athletes and non-athletes alike all over the world.
#1 Ali With Daughter Maryum. February 1970
#2 Muhammad Ali With The Jacksons
#3 Muhammad Ali With The Beatles
#4 Muhammad Ali Spends Some Quality Time With His Daughter Maryum, 1974
#5 Heavyweight Champion Muhammad Ali Stands Over Fallen Challenger Sonny Liston, Shouting And Gesturing Shortly After Dropping Liston With A Short Hard Right To The Jaw On May 25, 1965, In Lewiston, Maine. The Bout Lasted Only One Minute Into The First Round.
#6 Perspiration Beads On The Face Of Muhammad Ali, Shown In Training For His Fight With Sonny Liston At Lewiston, Maine, 1965
#7 Pope John Paul II Looks On As Muhammad Ali, Former Heavyweight Boxing Champion, Signs His Autograph In Vatican City, June 6, 1982
#8 Muhammad Ali At London's Heathrow Airport In 1977 When He Left For New York With His Daughters
#9 Boxer Cassius Clay Is Shown In 1954
#10 Young Muhammad Ali Points To A Sign He Wrote In His Dressing Room Before His Fight Against Archie Moore In Los Angeles, Predicting He’d Knock Moore Out In The Fourth Round, Which He Went On To Do