P R O F E S S I O N A L B O X I N G D E B U T - 1 9 6 0 S E R I E S : " M U H A M M A D A L I " | 2 0 2 1
“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.”
Ali made his professional boxing debut on October 29, 1960, in a six-round decision— and he walked away victorious. He had such quick, aggressive feet that he became known as "Louisville Lip." 20-year-old Clay had been fighting since October 29, 1960, and had won all of his ten fights, seven of them by knockout. Clay eventually changed his name to Muhammad Ali.
Muhammad Ali (1942-2016) was an American former heavyweight champion boxer and one of the greatest sporting figures of the 20th century. An Olympic gold medalist and the first fighter to capture the heavyweight title three times, Ali won 56 times in his 21- year professional career. Ali’s outspokenness on issues of race, religion and politics made him a controversial figure during his career, and the heavyweight’s quips and taunts were as quick as his fists. Born Cassius Clay Jr., Ali changed his name in 1964 after joining the Nation of Islam. Citing his religious beliefs, he refused military induction and was stripped of his heavyweight championship and banned from boxing for three years during the prime of his career. Parkinson’s syndrome severely impaired Ali’s motor skills and speech, but he remained active as a humanitarian and goodwill ambassador.
"When you saw me in the boxing ring fighting, it wasn't just so I could beat my opponent. My fighting had a purpose. I had to be successful in order to get people to listen to the things I had to say ... I wanted to be a champion who was accessible to everyone. I hoped to inspire others to take control of their lives and to live with pride and self-determination."