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"I am the greatest!"

— Muhammad Ali

Robe, 1974
Artifact Detailsview larger

Ali wore this robe while training for his 1974 "Rumble in the Jungle" and autographed it in 1976.

— Gift of Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali
The Greatest

Muhammad Ali rose from humble beginnings to become one of the most famous men in the world. Ali's complexity matched the spirit of the tumultuous 1960s. He was at once a boxing titan, a civil rights warrior, an anti-war protester, and a charismatic celebrity.

Again and again, he proved his claim to be the "greatest." Among his 21-year career milestones are an Olympic gold medal (1960); his first heavyweight title (1964); his refusal to serve in Vietnam on religious grounds for which he was stripped of his title (1967); his vindication by the Supreme Court (1970); his recapture of the title (1974); and a third title victory (1978).

Ali captured the world's imagination when he challenged undefeated champion George Foreman to a 1974 fight in Kinshasa, Zaire, dubbing it the "Rumble in the Jungle." Ali used his "rope-a-dope" routine to tire Foreman until the eighth round, and then burst into an offensive flurry to win the heavyweight championship. Ali lost the title again and reclaimed it an unprecedented third time in 1978. He retired in 1981 with an incredible 59 wins and five losses.

The charismatic Ali has appeared on television, in commercials, and in a film about his life, and he has used his worldwide fame for humanitarian efforts as well. Much more than an outstanding boxer, the media star became a symbol of courage, independence, and determination.

Name: Muhammad Ali (born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr.)
Born: Louisville, Kentucky, 1942–
  • Gold Medalist, light heavyweight division, Rome Olympics, 1960
  • Heavyweight Champion, 1964, 1974, 1978
  • 56 wins, 4 losses, 37 knockouts
  • Two National Golden Glove titles, 1959, 1960
  • Olympic Hall of Fame inductee, 1983
  • Boxing Hall of Fame inductee, 1991
  • Lit opening ceremony torch at Atlanta Olympics, 1996
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