Muhammad Ali (born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr., January 17, 1942 in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S.) is a retired American boxer and three-time World Heavyweight Champion. As an amateur, he won a gold medal in the light heavyweight division at the 1960 Summer Olympics. As a professional, he became the first man to win the lineal heavyweight championship three times.
In 1999, Ali was crowned "Sportsman of the Century" by Sports Illustrated and "Sports Personality of the Century" by the BBC.
Born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr., Ali changed his name after joining the Nation of Islam in 1964, subsequently converting to Sunni Islam in 1975 and later Sufism. In 1967 Ali refused to fight in the Vietnam war due to his religious beliefs. He was subsequently stripped of his championship title and his boxing license was suspended. He did not fight again for nearly four years.
Ali was well known for his fighting style, which he described as "Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee". Throughout his career Ali made a name for himself with great hand speed, as well as swift feet and taunting tactics. While Ali was renowned for his fast, sharp out-fighting style, he also had a great chin, and displayed great courage and an ability to take a punch throughout his career. Ali was also involved in several historic boxing matches with his rivals Joe Frazier and George Foreman.