Black History Month: February 26th
On this day in 1964, the Kentucky boxer known to all as Cassius Clay, changed his name to Muhammad Ali as he accepted Islam and rejected Christianity. “I believe in the religion of Islam. I believe in Allah and in peace…I’m not a Christian anymore.”
Muhammad Ali would go on to become a three-time World Heavyweight Champion, who is widely considered one of the greatest heavyweight championship boxers of all time. As an amateur, he won a gold medal in the light heavyweight division at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome.
In 1967, Ali refused to be inducted into the U.S. military based on his religious beliefs and opposition to the Vietnam War. He was arrested and found guilty on draft evasion charges, stripped of his boxing title, and his boxing license was suspended. He was not imprisoned, but did not fight again for nearly four years while his appeal worked its way up to the U.S. Supreme Court, where it was successful.
Ali was involved in several historic boxing matches against Joe Frazier and George Foreman. He suffered only five losses while amassing 56 wins. In 1999, Ali was crowned “Sportsman of the Century” by Sports Illustrated.