Cassius Clay was born in Louisville. Kentucky in 1941. He first became famous in 1960 when won a gold medal at the Olympic Games in Rome.
He became a professional boxer in the same year. In 1964, the world was astonished when Cassius Clay beat Sonny Liston and became the World Heavy Weight Champion.
He was a fast and aggressive boxer. His trainer said; “He floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee”. At this time, Clay became a member of the Black Muslim religious sect and changed his name to Mohammed Ali. After this he refused to speak to people when they called him Cassius Clay.
In April 1967 Ali refused to join the US Army and fight in Vietnam. He went to many meetings, especially in universities, and told people why he didn’t like the war. When Ali refused to join the army, the authorities sentenced him to five years of prison.
The Boxing authorities took away his world title and his licence to fight. Ali didn’t fight again for three and a half years but never went to prison. But on June 28th 1971, the US Supreme Court changed the decision. They said Ali really was a conscientious objector.
He began to fight again in 1970. On March 8th 1971, he fought Joe Frazier for the World Title and lost. But he was not discouraged and in 1974 he has another chance to win the world title. This time he fought George Foreman in Kinshasa, Zaire, and beat him.
He kept the title until February 1978, when Leon Spinks beat him in Las Vegas. But in September 1979 he regained his title again, when he beat Spinks at the Superdome in New Orlean.