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13 Things You Might Not Know About Muhammad Ali

Although most know quite a bit about the world-famous heavyweight boxing champion who professed to have the ability to float like a butterfly and sting like a bee, there are a multitude of other things that Muhammad Ali achieved in his 74-years.

Here are 13 cool things you may not have previously known:

1 – Muhammad Ali was at least partially East African. His paternal grandmother was from Madagascar.  

2 – Ali’s boxing passion began when he was 12-years-old and seeking justice for his stolen bicycle. Louisville police office and boxing coach, Joe E. Martin, signed Ali up to learn how to box.

He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.” – Muhammad Ali

13 Things You Might Not Know About Muhammad Ali - About Islam

3 – Before changing his name to Muhammad Ail, he took the name Cassius X. Ali was accepted in the Nation of Islam in 1964 and Elijah Mohammed suggested the name Muhammad Ali.

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4 – Unlike other heavyweights, Ali had an unusual style. Instead of being a “heavy” puncher, Ali relied on his strong footwork, fast hands and reflexes. His constant motion is still unmatched by other heavyweights.

5 – Shortly after his return from the Olympics in Rome, Ali and a friend were denied service at a restaurant on the basis of their race. Ali reacted by throwing his gold medal into the Ohio River.

13 Things You Might Not Know About Muhammad Ali - About Islam

6 – Ali’s boxing license was refused in every state and his passport taken away during his prime, from March 1967 until October 1970. This was due to his refusal to be inducted into the armed forces and serve in Vietnam.

Ali appealed his case to the Supreme Court and in 1971 ruled in his favor, allowing him to return to his boxing career.

7 – Ali’s vocal opposition to the Vietnam War inspired Martin Luther King Jr, who had previously avoided the topic, to also speak out against it.

8 – Ali said that carrying thousands of pamphlets about Islam when he traveled ‘kept him strong.’ Really, Ali felt a duty to tell Americans and Muslims, about Islam. He made dawah like this wherever he went, autographing pamphlets for fans.

I am America. I am the part you won’t recognize. But get used to me. Black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own; get used to me.” – Muhammad Ali

13 Things You Might Not Know About Muhammad Ali - About Islam

9 – Ali also authored at least one pamphlet that demonstrated contradictions found in the Bible.

10 – Of the five matches he lost during his career, Ali had rematches and defeated three of his five opponents.

11 – So widely and well recognized, Ali was cited as both “Sportsman of the Century” by Sports Illustrated and “Sports Personality of the Century” by the BBC.

13 Things You Might Not Know About Muhammad Ali - About Islam

12– In 1980 Ali was sent by the United Nations to aid in negotiating the release of American hostages in Iran. His title was “Messenger of Peace,” and although the negotiation fell through, Ali continued to represent the U.N. in numerous other campaigns. 

Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.” – Muhammad Ali

13 – One of the first stand alone mosques built from the ground up by African American Muslims was spearheaded by Ali, along with his manager Jabir Herbert Muhammad and His Royal Highness, Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al-Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates. Masjid Al-Fatir is on the south side of Chicago.