Cleveland Williams is sprawled out on the canvas as referee Harry Kessler sends Ali to a neutral corner during their heavyweight bout at the Astrodome in Houston on Nov. 14, 1966. Ali would win by TKO to retain his heavyweight title. AP Photo
Muhammad Ali, the legendary boxer who could hit much, much harder than you, passed away last Friday at age 74. He died of septic shock while being treated for a respiratory problem.
Ali’s nickname “the Greatest” kind of says it all. After more than two decades in the ring, he only lost a handful of fights. Your parents remember the “Rumble in the Jungle” match between Ali and his rival George Foreman, which Ali famously won using his "rope-a-dope tactic. Ali kept everyone on their toes outside the ring too. He changed his birth name from Cassius Clay when he joined the Nation of Islam, a black Islamic movement. Ali then defied the Vietnam draft, citing his religious beliefs - a hugely controversial move that got him banned from boxing for three years.
Ali retired from boxing in 1981, and was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease a few years later. For decades, Parkinson’s limited his mobility and speech. But that didn’t stop him from doing a ton of humanitarian work and receiving the Medal of Freedom.
There’s a reason why you’ve seen athletes like Michael Jordan, and everyone else from President Obama to JK Rowling, paying tribute to Ali. He’s not just considered the best boxer of all time, but maybe the best athlete period.
Ali and daughter Maryum feed his 10-week-old twins, Reeshemah and Jamillah, in their Philadelphia home in 1970. Bettmann/Getty Images
Young heavyweight fighter Ali, then Clay, is seen training at City Parks Gym in New York on Feb. 8, 1962. Dan Grossi/AP Photo
Running on a snow-covered road in Stateline, Nevada, on Nov. 18, 1972, Ali prepares for his bout with light heavyweight champ Bob Foster. Walter Zeboski/AP Photo
On Oct. 19, 1974, U.S. heavyweight champion Ali is escorted at his training center 11 days before the heavyweight world championship in Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo. On Oct. 30, Muhammad Ali knocks out George Foreman in a clash of titans known as the Rumble in the Jungle, which is watched by 60,000 people in the stadium and millions around the world. STR/AFP/Getty Images
Ali plays with a group of children near a grocery store in Miami Beach in February 1971. John Shearer/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images
Designer Calvin Klein, model Bianca Jagger and Ali attend the Valentino Fashion Show in November 1982 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Ron Galella/WireImage
Ali poses in 2002 on the roof of the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, where he was staying with his family. Using the chair helped steady the hands of Ali, who suffered from Parkinson's disease for three decades. "His hands were fascinating, punching so many opponents, so many times. The power of his fists, both literally and figuratively have left their mark in history," said photographer Rick Chapman. Rick Chapman