Muhammad Ali’s Life

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“Float like a butterfly sting like a bee.” Does this quote sound familiar? That is because this quote comes from one of the greatest boxers known to man. Muhammad Ali. In 19647, Ali refused to be inducted into the American army because of his religion, and was stripped of his heavyweight championship and could not box for 3 years. This paper explains the reason why Ali did what he did and why he would refuse to be inducted into the U.S. army because of his beliefs.

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Muhammad Ali was born January 17, 1942 in Louisville, Kentucky and is the son of Odessa Grady Clay (Mother) and Cassius Marcellus Clay Sr. (Father). According to Ali wasn’t afraid of much, whether he was boxing or not. Ali grew up in the south which was a very racist and prejudice place to grow up. When he was 12, Ali found out he loved boxing through getting his bike stolen, oddly enough. Ali told a police officer, Joe Martin, that he wanted to beat up the thief. Joe then told Ali that he’d better learn the fundamentals of fighting before he could compete against someone. According to by age 18 Ali had won two national Golden Gloves titles, two Amateur Athletic Union national titles and 100 victories against eight losses. After he got out of highschool, he traveled to Rome and won the light heavyweight gold medal in the 1960 Summer Olympics. Ali won his professional boxing debut on October 29, 1960, in a six-round decision. After winning his first 19 fights, including 15 knockouts, Clay received his first title shot on February 25, 1964, against reigning heavyweight champion Sonny Liston. In 1984, Ali was diagnosed with Parkinson’s syndrome, doctors figured it was from the constant punches he took to the head from when he was boxing.His speech started to diminish and so did his movement . Ali was a very influential person and connected his experiences with the world in spite to make it a better place and to make peace and good riddance wherever he stepped foot.

Why did Ali refuse to be inducted into the draft? Ali refused to be inducted into the draft because of his religion and would not go down without a fight. Ali was then arrested and was revoked of his boxing license and even the heavyweight championship belt that he worked his whole career to defend. Later on, Ali was convicted of draft evasion and was then sentenced to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. He escaped the fine and the sentence because the case ended up being appealed. Ali’s popularity went down the drain after this. During his 3 year boxing suspension Ali went to college campuses and spoke about the vietnam war and people’s attitude towards the war started to change. People’s attitude towards attitude then grew much better than before. In 1970, the Supreme Court returned his boxing license to him and in 1971 the court overturned his case in a unanimous decision. Ali explains with a quote from saying that the Vietnamese people never hurt him or his family, so he didn’t understand why he had to go over to another country to shoot and kill people that never wronged him in any way. Ali was a very peaceful man and his religion spoke for him. In Islam, war is to be used only in self defence and according to the Muslim religion he was abiding by it and following in his beliefs. Ali says “But when I step forward symbolizing I am in the Army, that is in conflict to my Muslim faith. I would be a hypocrite if I did it. I will go to jail first.” Ali himself said that he would rather go to jail than to disobey his religion.

Muhammad Ali never boxed for a ring or money but to experience the the sport first hand and to be the greatest to ever live. Even after his death in 2016 his legacy was only recognized even more and was known for the things he stood for. Ali was bigger than the sport itself and wasn’t going to let the draft ruin what he believed in. According to, in the article King states “He is giving up his fame.” “He is giving up millions of dollars in order to stand for what his conscience tells him is right. No matter what you think of his religion, you have to admire his courage.” Ali had many followers behind him after the case and many protested against the draft of the Vietnam war because of it.

All in all, Ali changed how the draft was looked at from then on and many praised him for what he stood for. Ali made history and was just as appealing to everyone as was watching him box. This paper explained why Muhammad Ali did what he did and why it was so important to him. Overall, in Ali’s mind ,religion was above being inducted into the draft and clearly showed that he would rather be put in prison than to disobey the Muslim religion.

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Muhammad Ali's Life. (2019, Nov 18). Retrieved January 31, 2023 , from

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