Inspiring Purpose

Muhammad Ali

Born in Louisville, Kentucky, he won the Olympic amateur light-heavyweight title in Rome in 1960. After turning professional, he won the world heavyweight title in 1964 by defeating Sonny Liston in seven rounds at Miami Beach (and subsequently in a rematch at Lewiston, Maine). He joined the Black Muslim sect in 1964, changed his name to Muhammad Ali, and refused military service on religious grounds. For this he was sentenced to prison and stripped of his title in 1967, but he was able to return to professional boxing in 1970 when the Supreme Court quashed his conviction. He lost to Joe Frazier in 1971, but defeated him in January 1974 and regained his title by beating George Foreman in October of that year in Zaire. He lost it again (to Leon Spinks) in February 1978 but regained it in a rematch in September of that year. He thus made history by regaining the world heavyweight title twice. He retired in 1981. In 1996, Ali, showing visible signs of the Parkinson's Disease which now afflicts him, made an emotionally-charged public appearance at the Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia, when he lit the Olympic torch. He was also awarded a gold medal to replace the 1960 Rome medal which he had thrown into a river.


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