Muhammad Ali was born on January 17, 1942. When I was growing up, my grandfather McKinley told me that being the heavyweight champ in boxing was a most notable achievement.
This brash young man out of Louisville, KY, named Cassius Clay, who had won the Light Heavyweight gold medal in the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, and tossed his medal into the river, because being an Olympic champion, did not inure one from racism. (Or he just lost it.) He was an underdog against reigning champ Sonny Liston.
Most thought his pre-fight chatter that he would “float like a butterfly and sting like a bee” was just talk. But he beat Liston on February 25, 1964 in Miami, becoming the youngest boxer to take the title from a reigning heavyweight champion. His new name was announced shortly after that fight.
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