Muhammad Ali was born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. on January 17, 1942 in Louisville, Kentucky. When he was 12 he discovered his boxing talent. The way he discovered his talent was a story in itself. Ali’s bike was stolen and he reported it to the police telling the officer that he wanted to beat up whomever stole his bike. The officer told him he better learn to fight before he challenged someone else. The Police Officer, Joe Martin, also trained young boxers at a gym nearby. Of course, Ali learned to box with Martin and was soon on his way to his boxing career.
He won his first amateur fight in 1954, and went on to win the 1956 Golden Gloves tournament for novices in the light heavyweight class. Many wins followed. Then, in 1960 he won a spot on the U.S. Olympic boxing team which gave him the amazing opportunity to travel to Rome, Italy to compete. Ali became known for his footwork and for his powerful jab at this time. Ali won gold in his final bout against Zbigniew Pietrzkowski from Poland. Following the Olympics, Ali turned professional and became unstoppable as a boxer.
Upon some spiritual searching, Ali found his well-known name Muhammad Ali after joining the black Muslim group, the Nation of Islam. During retirement, Ali devoted himself to philanthropy. He also traveled to many countries to help others in need. Ali received many recognitions such as the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush in 2005. Ali wants to inspire others to be the best they can be at whatever they chose to do and to encourage them to respect one another. He remains active today with public interaction despite his battle with Parkinson’s Disease as diagnosed in 1984. Muhammad Ali is one of the greatest athletes in boxing history and is truly a man dedicated to what he believes.