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Thus, purists cringed when Clay predicted the round in which he intended to knock out an opponent, and they grimaced when he did so and bragged about each new conquest.Sonny Liston for the heavyweight championship of the world.
When Clay was 12 years old, he took up boxing under the tutelage of Louisville policeman Joe Martin.
After advancing through the amateur ranks, he won a gold medal in the 175-pound division at the 1960 Olympic Games in In his early bouts as a professional, Clay was more highly regarded for his charm and personality than for his ring skills.
He sought to raise public interest in his fights by reading childlike poetry and spouting self-descriptive phrases such as “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” He told the world that he was “the Greatest,” but the hard realities of boxing seemed to indicate otherwise.
Clay infuriated devotees of the sport as much as he impressed them.
Black Power records at the National Archives related to Muhammad Ali consist of the court case (Clay v.
United States) relating to his refusal of induction for the Vietnam War draft.Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article.Join Britannica's Publishing Partner Program and our community of experts to gain a global audience for your work!He won the gold medal in light heavyweight boxing and returned to the United States to pursue his professional boxing career shortly thereafter.It was also around this time that Clay became a member of the Nation of Islam, announcing his name as Cassius X, then Muhammad Ali in 1964.His father, Cassius Marcellus Clay, Sr., supported a wife and two sons by painting billboards and signs.His mother, Odessa Grady Clay, worked as a household domestic.On March 6, 1964, he took the name Muhammad Ali, which was given to him by his spiritual mentor, For the next three years, Ali dominated boxing as thoroughly and magnificently as any fighter ever had.In a May 25, 1965, rematch against Liston, he emerged with a first-round knockout victory.Born Cassius Clay in Louisville, Kentucky, Muhammad Ali is consistently ranked as one of the greatest boxers of all time.At the age of 18, Ali traveled to Rome, Italy to participate in the 1960 Olympics.