Muhammad Ali

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Ali, Muhammad

Ali, Muhammad (məhămˈəd älēˈ), 1942–2016, American boxer, b. Louisville, Ky. Born Cassius Marcellus Clay, he was a 1960 Olympic gold medalist. Shortly after upsetting Sonny Liston in 1964 to become world heavyweight champion, he formalized his association with the Nation of Islam (see Black Muslims) and adopted the Muslim name Muhammad Ali.

Ali's flamboyant boxing style and outspoken stances on social issues made him a controversial figure during the turbulent 1960s and early 1970s. After beating Liston, he defended his title nine times, brashly proclaiming himself the “greatest of all time.” In 1967 he refused induction into the armed services and became a symbol of resistance to the Vietnam War. The boxing establishment stripped Ali of his title and prevented him from fighting until the U.S. Supreme Court in 1971 upheld his draft appeal on religious grounds. Before retiring in 1981 Ali compiled a 56–5 record and became the only man to ever win the heavyweight crown three times. His fights with Joe Frazier and George Foreman were among boxing's biggest events.

In retirement, Ali was one of the most recognized world figures. The 1984 revelation that he suffered from Parkinson's disease renewed debate over the negative effects of boxing. His appearance at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, to light the Olympic flame, moved an international audience.

Bibliography

See his Soul of a Butterfly: Reflections on Life's Journey (with H. Y. Ali, 2013) and The Greatest: My Own Story (with R. Durham, 2015); memoir by T. Shanahan (with C. Crisafulli, 2016); T. Hauser, Muhammad Ali: His Life and Times (1991) and Muhammad Ali: A Tribute to the Greatest (2016); biography by J. Eig (2016); G. Early, ed., The Muhammad Ali Reader (1998); D. Remnick, King of the World (1998); R. Roberts and J. Smith, Blood Brothers: The Fatal Friendship between Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X (2016); Sports Illustrated, Muhammad Ali: The Tribute (2016).


Muhammad Ali

, pasha of Egypt
Muhammad Ali, 1769?–1849, pasha of Egypt after 1805. He was a common soldier who rose to leadership by his military skill and political acumen. In 1799 he commanded a Turkish army in an unsuccessful attempt to drive Napoleon from Egypt. As pasha he was virtually independent of his nominal overlord, the Ottoman sultan. He modernized his armed forces and administration, created schools, and began many public works, particularly irrigation projects. The cost of these reforms bore heavily on the peasants and brought them few benefits. In 1811 he exterminated the leaders of the Mamluks, who had ruled Egypt almost uninterruptedly since 1250. With his son, Ibrahim Pasha, Muhammad Ali conducted successful campaigns in Arabia against the Wahhabis. In 1820 he sent armies to conquer Sudan. He scored great successes fighting for the Ottoman sultan in Greece until the British, French, and Russians combined to defeat his fleet at Navarino in 1827. The sultan, Mahmud II, to win his intervention in the Greek revolt, had promised to make him governor of Syria. When the sultan refused to hand over the province, Muhammad Ali invaded Syria with great success. In 1839 he attacked his overlord in Asia Minor, but was forced to desist when he lost the support of France and was threatened by united European opposition. In a compromise arrangement the Ottoman sultan made the governorship of Egypt hereditary in Muhammad Ali's line. He retired from office in 1848. Muhammad Ali is credited for his many domestic reforms, which hastened the foundations for an independent Egypt.

Bibliography

See H. H. Dodwell, The Founder of Modern Egypt (1931, repr. 1977); A. Marsot, Egypt in the Reign of Muhammad Ali (1984).


Muhammad Ali

, shah of Persia
Muhammad Ali, 1872–1925, shah of Persia (1906–9), son of Muzaffar ad-Din Shah, of the Qajar dynasty. Muhammad Ali, who was an opponent of constitutional government, began to rule at a critical period just after the constitution of 1906 had been granted. His struggle with the nationalists led to the bombing of the newly established parliament. He called in the aid of the Russians, who organized a Cossack brigade for him. His attempt to overthrow the constitutional government brought on two short civil wars (1908–9). Muhammad Ali was finally forced to abdicate in favor of his son, Ahmad Mirza. Later he attempted with Russian help to regain his throne, but he failed and afterward lived in exile in Russia.
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Muhammad Ali

, Muhammed Ali, Mohammed Ali
original name Cassius (Marcellus) Clay. born 1942, US boxer, who was world heavyweight champion three times (1964--67; 1974--78; 1978)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005

Ali, Muhammad (b. Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr.)

(1942–  ) boxer; born in Louisville, Ky. From 1956–60, as Cassius Clay, he fought as an amateur (winning 100 of 108 matches) before becoming the light-heavyweight gold medalist in the 1960 Olympics. Financed by a group of Louisville businessmen, he turned professional and by 1963 had won his first 19 fights. In 1964 he won the world heavyweight championship with a stunning defeat of Sonny Liston. Immediately after that, Clay announced that he was a Black Muslim and had changed his name to Muhammad Ali. After defending the championship nine times within two years, he was stripped of his title in 1967 when he refused induction into the U.S. Army on religious grounds. His action earned him both respect and anger from different quarters, but he did not box for three and one-half years when in 1971 he lost to Joe Frazier. A few months later the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed his right to object to military service on religious grounds and he regained the title in 1974 by knocking out George Foreman in Zaire, Africa. Ali defended his title ten times before losing to Leon Spinks in 1978. When he defeated Spinks later that same year, he became the first boxer ever to regain the championship twice. Famous for his flamboyant manner, his boasting predictions of which round he'd defeat his opponent, and his doggerel verse ("float like a butterfly, sting like a bee"), he was also recognized as one of the all-time great boxers with his quick jab and footwork. He compiled a career record of 56 wins, five losses, with 37 knockouts, before retiring in 1981. During the 1960s and 1970s he was arguably the best-known individual in the entire world due not only to his controversial career but also to his travels and deliberate reaching out to the Third World. In the 1980s it was revealed that he was suffering from a form of Parkinson's disease, but he made occasional appearances to the acclaim of an admiring public.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.