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Happy Birthday Muhammad Ali

VICTORY: Muhammad Ali towers over defeated opponent Sonny Liston

HE FLOATED like a butterfly and stang like a bee. During his career Muhammad Ali, three-time world heavyweight champion, was the most famous man on the planet and considered the greatest sportsperson of his era.

Born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. in Kentucky, on January 17 1942, the future champion took up boxing at age 12, when his bike was stolen and he wanted to find the culprit and punish him.

He won his first world heavyweight champion title in 1964, before going on to both wow the world and shock his opponents with his skill inside the ring.

But he was also admired outside the ring for his uncompromising stance on social
and racial issues. Following his conversion to Islam and changing his name to Muhammad Ali he was stripped of his title in 1967 when he refused to join the US military during the Vietnam war as it went against his religious belief.

Speaking about his refusal to be drafted, Ali famously said: “I got nothing against no Viet Cong. No Vietnamese ever called me a ‘ni***r’.” 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, it reinstated 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.

‘The Greatest’ boxing champion hung his gloves up in 1981.

Three years later, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, and died on June 3, 2016.


The champion boxer, philanthropist, and social activist was known for his memorable one liners.

In a salute to The Greatest we take a look back at 10 of his most-famous...
1. “Truly great people in history never wanted to be great for themselves. All they wanted was the chance to do good for others and be close to God.”

2. “I had to prove you could be a new kind of black man. I had to show the world.”

3. “It ain’t bragging if you can back it up.”

4. “I’m the greatest, I’m a bad man, and I’m pretty!”

5. “You lose nothing when fighting for a cause...In my mind the losers are those who don’t have a cause they care about.”

6. “I’m the most recognised and loved man that ever lived cuz there weren’t no satellites when Jesus and Moses were around, so people far away in the villages didn’t know about them.

7. “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.”

8. “I’m so fast that last night I turned off the light switch in my hotel room and was in bed before the room was dark.”

9. “My only fault is that I don’t realise how great I really am.”

10. “He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.”

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