Boxing Legend Muhammad Ali, who won his first world heavyweight championship at age 22, has passed away at age 74 on Friday night. He was hospitalized with a respiratory illness in Arizona, where he lived for his final years. The cause of his death is unknown at the moment.
Born Cassius Marcellus Clay in Louisville, Kentucky, Ali started boxing at 12. He participated in his first fight in 1960 and achieved 19 consecutive victories, including 15 by knock out.
Shortly after a victory against Liston that resulted in his first heavyweight title, he joined the nation of Islam, whose leader Elijah Muhammad said his birth name would be changed to Muhammad Ali.
Ali continued his boxing career and recorded nine more victories, including a rematch against Liston, before his suspension in 1967 for refusing to be drafted into the armed forces. He openly spoke about against the Vietnam War, citing religious beliefs as the reason behind his refusal.
“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 in Vietnam, while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights?” he once asked.
After an appeal and ruling, he was able to return to boxing in 1971 when he lost his first professional fight. He rebounded the loss with ten wins before losing in 1973 to Ken Norton, who he later defeated in a rematch.
He retired in December of 1981 and 3 years later was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease at the age of 42. Despite his condition, Ali continued to make public appearances in years that followed.
R.I.P. to Ali, and we send our deepest sympathies to his family and friends.