He was known as the “greatest of all time.” Former heavyweight boxing champ Muhammad Ali died late Friday night at the age of 74. He had been hospitalized in Phoenix, Az earlier in the week. Ali was known for his wit, charisma and his electric personality in and out of the boxing ring.
Muhammad Ali was born Cassius Clay in Louisville, Ky in January 1942. As Cassius Clay, he won an Olympic Gold Medal in the light heavyweight boxing division for the United States in 1960. He turned professional and became heavyweight champion at 22 years old by beating then champ Sonny Liston, making him the youngest Heavyweight Champion of the world.
Cassius Clay changed his name to Muhammad Ali in 1964 when he joined the Nation of Islam. After he refused to be drafted into the U.S. Army to fight in the Vietnam War, Ali was stripped of his championship in 1967 and fought the U.S. government for more than three years before winning the right to fight in the ring again.
Ali would ultimately become the Heavyweight Champion three times in his career.
Muhammad Ali suffered with Parkinson’s disease for more than 30 years. Ali visited Atlanta several times during his career. His fight back in the ring to regain his heavyweight title was held in Atlanta. Fans attending the Summer Olympics in Atlanta in 1996 saw him light the torch to officially start the games at Turner Field.
Ali is expected to be buried in Louisville, Ky. Funeral arrangements have not been announced.