Who Was Muhammad Ali
- By James Buckley, Jr. and Who HQ
- Illustrated by Stephen Marchesi
- Middle Grade (8-12)
- 112 pages
A young boy named Cassius Clay. A teenager who learned to float like a butterfly and sting like a bee. The “greatest” heavyweight boxing champion of all time
Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr. won the world heavyweight championship at the age of 22, the same year he joined the Nation of Islam and changed his name to Muhammad Ali. He would go on to become the first and only three-time (in succession) World Heavyweight Champion. Nicknamed “The Greatest,” Ali was as well known for his unique boxing style, consisting of the Ali Shuffle and the rope-a-dope, as he was for the catchphrase “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” He was an uncompromising athlete who brought beauty and grace to a very rough sport and became one of the world’s most famous cultural icons. Read Who Was Muhammad Ali? and discover “The Greatest.”
Born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr. the celebrated boxer began boxing at the age of 12, after threatening to “whip” the person who stole his bicycle. He won six Kentucky Golden Glove titles, two national Golden Glove titles, and a gold medal in the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome. At the age of 22, Clay won his first heavyweight title by defeating the reigning champion Sonny Liston.
In 1962, Cassius Clay met Malcolm X, who became his friend and spiritual advisor. Joining the Nation of Islam in 1964, Clay changed his name to Muhammad Ali. In 1967, Ali refused to serve in the armed forces during the Vietnam War due to his religious beliefs. He was charged with draft evasion and sentenced to five years in prison, fined $10,000, and banned from boxing for three years. The conviction was overturned by the US Supreme Court in 1971. The National Archives holds records relating to his arrest and successful appeal in the series Case Files and Enclosures Relating to Cassius Clay, Jr. (Muhammad Ali), 1967-1969 (NAID 22930205).