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I would like to receive morning headlines Monday - Friday plus breaking news alerts by email. Update newsletter preferences. Shape Created with Sketch. Muhammad Ali: A life in pictures Show all Despite taking his first booking lessons with a local policeman, Clay was simultaneously coached by the more experienced Fred Stoner. After that, Clay decided to start off his professional career. Clay won his first professional fight against Tunney Hunsaker in a six-round decision on October 29, After that, he went on to establish a record of fights, with a total of 15 knockouts. Thanks to his high stature 1.
By , Clay had not only built a reputation for his boxing technique, but also for correctly predicting the round in which he would "finish" the opponent. Here, he predicts correctly the round in which he will knock-out British boxer Henry Cooper. In his first title fight, Cassius Clay opted for world heavyweight champion Sonny Liston. Though few observers thought the year old could defeat an ex-con with ties to organized crime, Clay proved them wrong: in the legendary sixth round of the fight, he landed spectacular combinations of punches, seemingly at will.
Cassius Clay had made history for the first time. The day after the fight, Cassius Clay announced that he was changing his name to Muhammad Ali for religious reasons. Although he had already been member of Nation of Islam prior to the fight, he was advised not to declare this publicly, in order not to jeopardize his chances. At that time, the Nation of Islam was often viewed with outright suspicion by mainstream America, and Ali did little to counter these impressions: the boxer once stated, for example, that "Integration is wrong.
We don't want to live with the white man; that's all. Later in his life, he came to embrace spiritual practices of Sufism. Muhammad Ali also aroused controversy through his outright opposition to the Vietnam War.
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When notified of his army classification as 1A in early , the boxer declared that he would refuse to serve, as he considered himself a conscientious objector. He also famously declared about the war: "I ain't got no quarrel with them Viet Cong They never called me nigger.
Refusing to accept the verdict, Ali took the case to the U. Supreme Court. In June , with public opinion already against the war, the highest court of the United States reversed his conviction by unanimous decision. In , with the case still on appeal, Muhammad Ali was allowed to fight again - in what would become the Fight of the Century against Joe Frazier. It was a heavily promoted fight, with massive popular interest: Frank Sinatra, for example, took pictures for Life magazine. For Ali, it became one of his most crushing defeats.
Despite dominating the first third of the fight, he later struggled to keep the pace and, indeed, was put on his back for only the third time in his career. Though he managed to stay on his feet for the rest of round 15, Frazier was declared winner by unanimous decision. In January , however, Ali defeated Smokin' Joe in a non-title rematch. In October , Muhammad Ali regained his title in what was to become of the biggest upsets in boxing history.
Almost no one gave Ali a chance of winning. Foreman and Ali became friends after the fight, and the movie When We Were Kings , a documentary of the fight in Zaire, even won an Oscar. Leading up to the fight, Ali enraged Frazier through frequent insults and slurs, for example remarking: "It will be a killa When Frazier's coach refused to allow Frazier to continue, Ali was declared winner by technical knockout.
Later on, Muhammad Ali would declare that this was the closest to dying he had ever been, as well as stating that Joe Frazier was "the greatest fighter of all times, next to me. Following these wins, he staged an exhibition match with professional wrestler and Mixed Martial Artist Antonio Inoki picture. This match would seriously jeopardise Ali's health, as both of his legs were bleeding after the fight, leading to an infection.
His mother was a quarter Native American and "looked like a white woman" according to my dad.