Happy birthday, Muhammad Ali! Today we are remembering the boxing legend on what would have been his 80th trip around the sun.
The estate of Muhammad Ali took to Instagram to share a special tribute to the late boxing champion. “Happy Birthday, Muhammad Ali! On what would’ve been his 80th birthday, we celebrate the life and legacy of The Greatest of All Time!”
Nicknamed The Greatest, Muhammad Ali (originally Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr.) was not only a boxer but he was also an activist, entertainer, poet, and philanthropist. According to the Ali Center, Ali was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky. He started his training to be an amateur boxer when he was just 12 years old. He went on to receive a gold medal in the lightweight division at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome. Ali went pro following the Games. One year later, he became a Muslim and officially changed his name.
Muhammad Ali also refused to be inducted into the United States Army due to the growing antiwar movement in the 1960s. Instead of serving in the armed forces, he decided to travel across continents and hand-deliver food and medical supplies. While in the U.S., he would visit multiple soup kitchens and hospitals. He would also help non-profit organizations throughout the country. This includes The Cradle the Make-A-Wish-Foundation, the Special Olympics’ organization Best Buddies, Herbert E. Birch Services, and Fight Night.
Muhammad Ali went on to receive various awards in his lifetime. He received the United Nations Messenger of Peace Award, Amnesty International Lifetime Achievement Award, and he was named International Ambassador of Jubilee 2000.
Ali passed away from septic shock in June 2016 at the age of 74.
Muhammad Ali’s Ex-Wife Reveals Why He Converted to Muslim
In October 2017, Muhammad Ali’s ex-wife, Belinda Boyd (also known as Khalilah Camacho-Ali), spoke to The Washington Post about why the late boxing legend decided to convert to Muslim. She revealed that the box had lost all traces of humility at one point. He was also acting like he was God. Boyd called him out for his behavior and stated that while he may call himself the greatest, he would never be greater than Allah.
Boyd then recalled telling Muhammad Ali to write an essay about why he decided to become a Muslim. In the letter, he wrote about his teenage days in Louisville while being known as Cassius Clay Jr. He stated he first heard about the Nation of Islam after leaving a roller skating rink. Ali stated that an image of a white slave owner beating his black slave while insisting the man pray to Jesus made him see that Christianity was a religion forced on slaves by the white establishment. He decided to step away from Christianity and from Cassius Clay. Ali then converted to Muslim so he could pick his own religion.
Boyd was Muhammed Ali’s second wife. They had four children together.