Cassius Marcellus Clay started boxing at the age of 12. Even at a young age, he displayed pure dominance as a young fighter winning two national Golden Gloves middleweight championships and an AAU national light-heavyweight title. Not too long after graduation, he blessed with a gift of winning the light-heavyweight gold medal at the 1960 Olympics in Rome.
Clay was a brilliant independent self-promoter, showing off for the camera and his proclaiming that not only was he the greatest fighter, but he was also the prettiest. He predicted in rhyme, with great accuracy, the round he would knock out his opponent ("They all fall/in the round I call"). In a period when boxing was of disinterest, he bought excitement back to the sport.
Even though he bought life back to the sport, he still didn't impress the boxing press who had doubt that he wasn't ready for the heavyweight title against champ Sonny Liston. Before the Feb. 25, 1964 fight in Miami Beach, 43 out 46 writers predicted a Liston victory. They had Clay as a 7-1 underdog; however, he displayed a miraculous upset when Liston didn't come back for the seventh round claiming he had a shoulder injury.
The morning after, Clay confirmed that he had joined the Nation of Islam. On March 6, Elijah Muhammad, told the world that he changed the name Cassius Clay to Muhammad Ali which meant one worthy of praise. Ali fought for the first time under his new name against Liston in a rematch for the title. Ali defended his title for seven more years, but had it stripped when he ran into a battle with the government. When the military attempted to draft he said he is a conscientious objector. "I ain't got no quarrel with the Viet Cong," he said in 1966. At court hearing, he refused three times to step forward. Later he was guilty and was gave the maximum sentence and a $10, 000 fine. After a series of appeals he cleared of all charges.
Ali went on to achieve an outstanding record of 13wins and 4losses with his biggest fight ever "The Rumble in the Jungle" against heavyweight champ George Foreman in Kinshasa, Zaire.