CELEBRATIONS: Muhammad Ali
HE FLOATED like a butterfly and stang like a bee. Today marks the legendary boxing champion's 71st birthday.
Born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. in Kentucky, the young Cassius took up boxing at age 12, when his bike was stolen and he wanted to find the culprit and whoop him.
Winning his first world heavyweight champion title in 1964, Clay,who went onto wow the world and shock his opponents both inside and outside the ring, converted to Islam and changed his name to Muhammad Ali.
However, he was stripped of his champion title in 1967 when he refused to join the military services during the Vietnam was as it went against his religious belief.
"I got nothing against no Viet Cong. No Vietnamese ever called me a 'ni***r'," Ali said on his refusal to draft.
He continued: "Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go 10,000 miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs?" The case reached the U.S. Supreme Court and in 1971, reinstating his title and license.
Losing to rival Joe Frazier in his comeback fight in 1971, Ali regained the heavyweight title in 1974, when he defeated George Foreman in the Rumble in the Jungle in the Congo. One year later, he outlasted Frazier in the epic Thrilla in Manila bout.
Muhammad 'The Greatest' Ali hang his gloves in 1981, however sadly three years later, he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.
A humanitarian and equality champion, Ali was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honour in the U.S, in 2005 by President George W. Bush.
From there on he would go on to become a three-time world champion with 56 Wins (37 knockouts, 19 decisions), 5 Losses (4 decisions, 1 TKO), 0 Draws.
We salute the greatest boxer, philanthropist, and social activist!