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Muhammad Ali Biography | Poet

Photo of Muhammad Ali

"The man who has no imagination, has no wings."---Muhammad Ali

Born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr. on January 17, 1942 to Odessa and Cassius Marcellus Clay, Sr. in Louisville, Kentucky. He had a sister and four brothers and was raised Baptist by his mother. In the early career years, he won six golden gloves from Kentucky, two national and a gold medal in the 1960 Rome Olympics. In 1964 he took the Heavyweight Championship. Ali had a dramatic career as a fighter and did indeed have amazing success as an athlete, but that was not the whole of his famous history.

Conscientious objection

Ali took a political stand as a conscientious objector against induction into the armed services and was stripped of his title, refused his boxing license and sentenced to a five year jail term, which later would be overturned and the title regained. He did lose about four years from what would have proven to be the strongest years of his life, as these were his late twenties. As time progressed, he fought for his license to fight in several cities and was granted one in 1970. He continued his boxing career until 1980 when he retired from the ring. In 1984 he was diagnosed with Parkinson's stemming from the injuries he sustained as a boxer. This did not stop him though.

Present politics

Ali always enjoyed politics and participated actively in the community and national government as an activist and speaker. In 1991, he went to Iraq and met with Saddham Hussein in an attempt to assist in the release of the American hostages. In 2002, he traveled to Kabul for a three day peace making visit as a United Nations guest.

Ali has often been involved with the Olympics throughout his career and in 1996 he lit the torch and in 2012 he attended and held the flag with assistance from his son. He has been deteriorating in health over the last years, but continues to have a positive attitude and strong ties with his family. He has been married four times, has had seven daughters and two sons.

Nation of Islam

In 1959, Ali was exposed to the Nation of Islam and began attending meetings. He had been invited to speak at Howard University for a Black Power group. In 1962, he met Malcolm X and was recruited into the Nation in 1964 after initially being turned down due to his boxing career. Ali held the political stance that the white man was the "devil" and that they were not meant to be trusted. This is somewhat ironic as he has had many white people in his life assisting him with many aspects of his career. In 1975, he converted to Sunni Islam and then in 2002 he began to follow the sufis beliefs.

Pop culture icon

Ali was ranked among the top fighters throughout his life and enjoyed the attention that he received for these successes. He has been a topic to many movies and books and has recorded a self-autobiographical album as well. Sports Illustrated has published 37 issues with him on the cover, starred in several movies, and participated in many productions. Some of those are Black Rodeo in 1972, The Greatest, 1977, When we Were Kings, a 1996 documentary, and Ali in 2001. In 2015, he wrote the memoir, The Greatest, My Own Story, which was edited by Toni Morrison. He has performed in many other roles in the world of drama and was honored with a Star on The Hollywood Walk of Fame.

An inspiration

Ali continues to live a full and amazing life. He has been an activist, a speaker, an actor, a boxer, a father and a man. He has stood up to the government when he saw that things were not right, such as during the Vietnam Era and he has stood with the government on other issues such as the Gulf War. He has undergone physical and spiritual transformations through traumatic and dramatic moments in time. He has written some very interesting, humorous and insightful poetry. Some of it reflects his boxing years, but many of them stem from the spiritual challenges he has had to face throughout his life calling attention to his truth. He enjoys his success and family and continues his journey today.

"He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life." 

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