Muhammad Ali died Friday at a hospital in Phoenix. Ali was staying at the hospital for respiratory issues, but his longest fight, one that lasted 32 years, was with Parkinson’s.
Self-proclaimed as “The Greatest,” Ali was a champion in the ring, a civil rights leader and political activists.
Why are we writing an article about Ali? Great question. We just want to equip you with the highlights and make it easier for you to be in-the-know on issues, events and people as you head into the weekend.
So, here are seven smart things you should know about Muhammad Ali.
1. Where It All Started
He was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky, but spent his last years residing in Phoenix, Arizona. The funeral will be held at the place of his birth.
2. The Name Change
Ali’s given name was Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr. He changed his name when he converted to Islam. *This interview shares the story in more detail. Oh, and it’s hilarious and winsome… until he gets real at the end.
3. Olympic Champ
Muhammed Ali won a gold medal in boxing at the 1960 summer Olympics in Rome, Italy. *Watch the classic footage below.
Muhammed Ali was the youngest person to earn the title of world heavyweight champion at age 22, beating out Sonny Liston.
5. The Arrest
In 1967, just three years after defeating Sonny Liston, Ali refused to join the U.S. military during the Vietnam War, due to his religious beliefs. He was arrested for draft evasion and lost his boxing license. He wouldn’t box for three years–losing some of his best fighting years in the ring.
At age 42, the retired champ was diagnosed with Parkinson’s and he pulled back from the public eye, although he often spoke out on political issues, he rarely gave interviews later in his life.
7. His Final Words to Donald Trump
However, Parkinsons didn’t keep him from speaking out against the Republican frontrunner, Donald Trump. In December, he released a statement in response to Trump’s comments about banning Muslims from entering the U.S. “We as Muslims have to stand up to those who use Islam to advance their own personal agenda,” he said.