Today in black history: Ali becomes heavyweight champion of the world

Today in 1964, Muhammad Ali became the heavyweight boxing champion of the world.

Ali, who won the title under his given name, Cassius Clay, converted to Islam a few year later and changed his name. An activist, showman, and cultural icon, Ali was stripped of his title a few years later for refusing to fight in Vietnam. At the time, he was quoted as saying, “No, I am not going 10,000 miles to help murder, kill, and burn other people to simply help continue the domination of white slavemasters over dark people the world over. This is the day and age when such evil injustice must come to an end.”

He won his right to fight back in 1970 and then went on to win two consecutive championships – the only person to do so. Ali was diagnosed with Parkinson’s syndrome in 1984, as a result of being hit too many times in the ring. He currently lives in Arizona.

Photo: Flickr