Key dates in Muhammad Ali's life and career

AFP , Saturday 4 Jun 2016

The following is a list of key dates in the life and career of late boxing giant Muhammad Ali:

Early life

January 17, 1942: Cassius Marcellus Clay Junior born in Louisville, Kentucky.

December 1954: In Clay's ring debut as an 89-pound amateur, he takes a three-round split decision over Ronnie O'Keefe.


1960: Wins Olympic light heavyweight (178-pound/80-kilo) title with victory over three-time European Champion Zbigniew Pietrzykowski of Poland in the final.

October 29, 1960: Wins six-round decision over Tunney Hunsaker in his professional debut in Louisville

February 25, 1964: Upsets Sonny Liston to win the heavyweight world title.

March 6, 1964: Embraces the Nation of Islam and takes the name Muhammad Ali.

May 25, 1965: Knocks out Liston at 1:52 of the first round of their world championship rematch.

May 8, 1967: Ali indicted in Houston, Texas, for refusing induction into the armed forces and is stripped of his boxing title.

June 1967: Ali is convicted of draft dodging and sentenced to five years in prison, fined $10,000 and forced to surrender his passport.


February 3, 1970: Thwarted in efforts to resume his career, announces retirement.

September 2, 1970: Returns to ring after absence of more than three years in exhibition bouts.

October 26, 1970: Officially returns to the ring against Jerry Quarry in Atlanta, Georgia.

December 30, 1970: Signs to meet Joe Frazier for the heavyweight title. Each fighter is to receive an unprecedented $2.5 million.

March 8, 1971: Loses close 15-round decision to Frazier, his first professional defeat.

June 28, 1971: US Supreme Court unanimously reverses Ali's draft-dodging conviction.

October 30, 1974: Regains the world heavyweight title with upset of previously unbeaten George Foreman on an eighth-round knockout in Kinshasa, Zaire.

October 1, 1975: The "Thrilla in Manila", an epic contest between Ali and Frazier ends when Frazier fails to answer bell for 15th round.

October 1, 1976: Ali announces retirement for the second time, a decision he reversed two months later.

February 15, 1978: Leon Spinks upsets Ali in 15 rounds to claim the world title.

September 15, 1978: Ali becomes the first three-time heavyweight world champion with a victory over the out-of-shape Spinks.

June 27, 1979: Announces retirement for the third time, saying, "I'd be a fool to fight again."


April 28, 1980: Announces return bout with Larry Holmes for October 1980.

June 1, 1980: British neurologist says Ali suffering from brain damage.

October 2, 1980: Holmes pounds Ali for 10 rounds to win vacant heavyweight title.

December 11, 1981: Beaten in 10 rounds by mediocre Trevor Berbick. Ali's last pro fight. "I feel 40 years old," Ali said. "It's the end."

September 19, 1984: Undergoes tests that diagnose Parkinson's disease.

July 15, 1987: Ali's Parkinson's attributed to punishment received in the ring


July 19, 1996: Lights Olympic cauldron at opening of Atlanta Olympics to international acclaim.


November 9, 2005: Then US president George W. Bush awards Ali the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America's highest civilian honor.

November 14, 2011: Attends funeral of rival heavyweight Joe Frazier in Philadelphia.

June 3, 2016: Dies at age 74 after a long bout with Parkinson's disease.

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