Muhammad Ali

muhammadaliap.jpgCassius Clay was born January 17, 1942 in Loiusville Kentucky. Best known for his professional fighting, he began boxing at the age of 12 and became an Olympic Gold Medalist in 1960, at the age of 18.  Shortly after that he fought Sonny Liston for the title of Heavyweight Champion of the World and won. The fight showcased his grace and agility, proving he could indeed “float like a butterfly, and sting like a bee.”

Not all of Muhammad Ali’s fights were in the ring, however. Upon returning to America after winning his Gold Medal in the 1960 Olympics in Italy he went to a soda fountain in his hometown of Louisville – wearing his gold medal – and was refused service because of the color of his skin. Outraged at this affront, he threw the medal into a river stating, “That gold medal didn’t mean a thing to me if my black brothers and sisters were treated wrong in a country I was supposed to represent.” (Please click on the link to view the original source of this quote.)

After meeting Malcolm X Cassius Clay became a member of the Muslim Faith and changed his name to Muhammad Ali, which means “beloved of Allah.” Again, Muhammad found himself fighting a battle outside of the boxing ring. Because of his beliefs he became a “conscientious objector” and refused to participate in the Vietnam War. This caused him to be stripped of his World Championship Title and his boxing license. He was also sentanced to aprison term that was later overturned.

In the 1980’s Muhammad Ali began yet another fight outside the ring when he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Besides battling the disease himself, he has set up foundations to raise money for research.

Parkinson’s Disease is not the only “cause” that Muhammad Ali has fought for either. Over the years he has donated millions of dollars to charity, helping countless numbers of people.

In 1991, during the Gulf War, Muhammad Ali met with Saddam Hussein in an effort to negotiate the release of American prisoners being held in Baghdad.

 Sources: My Hero Project, Gale Free Resources



  1. Muhammad Ali has always provided inspiration for me, from his boxing, from his consciencious objection, from his humanitarianism. We also share a common challenge now – Parkinson’s disease. Like Ali, I am trying to do all I can to raise awareness and raise money for research into a cure for this disease. My wife and I run an organization called Team Parkinson, and we raise money through the efforts of our team at the LA Marathon, San Francisco Marathon, our Annual Golf Tournament, and other events.


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