Muhammad Ali , the boxer who is regarded as one of the greatest athletes of the 20th century dethroned Sonny Liston on February 25, 1964. Sonny Liston was the then world heavyweight boxing champ.
Ali was born on January 17, 1942, in Louisville, Kentucky. His birth name was Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. He started boxing when he was 12 and by age 18 had over 100 wins in amateur competition to his credit.
In 1960, Clay won a spot on the U.S. Olympic boxing team, and traveled to Rome, Italy, to compete. He won the light heavyweight Olympic gold medal. In 1964 he joined the black Muslim group Nation of Islam. Clay, who was the descendant of a runaway Kentucky slave, rejected the name originally given to his family by a slave owner and took the Muslim name of Muhammad Ali.
In 1967 his refusal to serve the military got him arrested and stripped of his world title and boxing license. He was found guilty of violating Selective Service laws and sentenced to five years in prison in June 1967 but remained free while appealing his conviction. This made him miss more than three prime years of his athletic career. Ali returned to the ring in 1970 with a win over Jerry Quarry, and the U.S. Supreme Court eventually overturned the conviction in June 1971. He had a career record of 56 wins, five losses and 37 knockouts before his retirement from boxing in 1981 at the age of 39. Ali’s bout with Parkinson’s led to a gradual decline in his health. He died on 2 June 2016 at the age of 74.