Muhammad Ali: Journey of "The Greatest"

Follow the travels of the greatest boxer of all time, Muhammad Ali. As a heavyweight boxing champ and humanitarian, he's been all around the world, including Scotland, Egypt and the Philippines.

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Louisville, Kentucky

Muhammad Ali was born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr. in Louisville, KY, on Jan.17, 1942. It wasn’t until he was a teenager that he acquired a passion for boxing. His bike had been stolen in front of the city’s Columbia Auditorium; young Cassius Clay vowed to “whip the robber’s butt.” Soon he began training to become a boxer.


Cassius Clay wins the light heavyweight gold medal at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome. After returning to the US, he would later toss his Olympic medal into the Ohio River after he was turned away from a whites-only restaurant and got into a brawl with a white gang.

LA's Main Street Gym

Cassius Clay trains at the Main Street Gym in LA (pictured) for an upcoming fight against Archie Moore on Nov. 15, 1962.


Known as braggart and rapid-fire talker, Cassius Clay gets his mouth taped by his trainer Angelo Dundee during his weigh-in before a match against heavyweight boxer Doug Jones. In a unanimous decision, Clay wins the match in 10 rounds on March 13, 1963.

Miami Beach, Florida

Black Muslim leader Malcolm X, behind the soda fountain, jokes with tux-clad Cassius Clay. The 2 notable men meet in a Miami Beach restaurant surrounded by jubilant fans after the boxer beats Sonny Liston for the heavyweight championship of the world title on Feb. 25, 1964.

Miami's 5th Street Gym

American heavyweight boxer Cassius Clay (center) poses in the ring in a mock victory over The Beatles at the 5th Street Gym in Miami before his first WBA/WBC World Heavyweight title fight against Sonny Liston (Feb. 22, 1964). The Beatles are visiting the US for the first time. On the canvas, left to right: Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr.

London's Apollo Victoria Theater

On March 6, 1964, Cassius Clay, Jr. converts to the Nation of Islam and religious leader Elijah Muhammad gives him his new name, Muhammad Ali, which means “praiseworthy one.” The professional boxer becomes a vocal activist, who travels around the world to speak before thousands of people, including here at the New Victoria Theater in London (pictured).

Giza, Egypt

In 1964, Ali visits the Sphinx and the pyramids at Giza, Egypt.

Glasgow, Scotland

On Aug. 18, 1965, American WBC world heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali is greeted by a traditional Scottish pipe band on his arrival at Glasgow airport. Ali travels to the city for a series of exhibition matches.

Stardust Resort and Casino

On Nov. 4, 1965, Muhammad Ali trains at the Stardust Resort and Casino in Las Vegas before his match against Floyd Patterson. He knocks Patterson out in the 12th round and retains his WBC World Heavyweight title.

Madison Square Garden

Banned from boxing for 3 1/2 years for not serving in the Vietnam War, Cassius Clay returns to the ring in a boxing match against WBC/WBA world heavyweight boxing champ Joe Frazier. Ali would lose to Frazier in the match called the “Fight of the Century,” held at NYC’s Madison Square Garden on March 8, 1971.

Zurich, Switzerland

With his daughters in tow, Muhammad Ali trains for a fight against German boxer Jürgen Blin in Zurich, Switzerland, on Dec. 26, 1971.

Kinshasa, Zaire (Congo)

On Oct. 30, 1974, Ali challenges George Foreman for the WBC/WBA World Heavyweight title at 20 Mai Stadium in Kinshasa, Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo). Ali’s “rope-a-dope” strategy tires Foreman down, allowing Ali to knock out Foreman in the 8th round and eventually win the title.


In their third fight against one another for the world heavyweight title, Ali defeats Joe Frazier in the “Thrilla in Manila” fight in Quezon City, Philippines (Oct. 1, 1975). This match is now known as one of the greatest battles in the history of boxing.

Las Vegas

Contrary to what this picture may indicate, Muhammad Ali would go on to lose to Leon Spinks in this split-decision boxing match held in Las Vegas on Feb. 15, 1978. Six months later, Ali wins back the heavyweight title in a rematch at the Superdome in New Orleans. Ali losses his last 2 boxing matches of his boxing career before he officially retires with a record of 56 wins and 5 losses, retaining his unofficial title as the greatest boxer of all time.

Muhammad Ali Boulevard

In 1978, busy Walnut Street in Louisville, KY, is renamed Muhammad Ali Boulevard.

The Vatican

In 1982, Pope John Paul II and the former US heavyweight boxing champion sign autographs for each other at the end of their meeting at the Vatican. Two years later, Ali announces he’s been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. He would soon step into a new arena -- as a humanitarian. In 1990, Ali visits Iraq to negotiate with Saddam Hussein for the release of 14 American hostages.

United Nations

In 1998, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan names Ali a United Nations Messenger of Peace.


In 1998, Ali lights the first torch to start the Olympic Torch Relay at Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta. The former boxing champ also carried the torch for the Salt Lake City 2002 Winter Olympic Games.

Kabul, Afghanistan

On Nov. 18, 2002, Muhammad Ali (center) sits with Afghan students during his visit to Karte Sei High School for Girls in Kabul, Afghanistan. He visits Kabul on a 3-day special mission as a UN Messenger of Peace.

White House

Ali visits the White House where President George W. Bush awards the former heavyweight champion with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest US civilian honor (Nov. 9, 2005).

Muhammad Ali Center

In 2005, the Muhammad Ali Center opens in Louisville, KY. Ali and his family continue to devote their time to the center, and to raise awareness and organize fundraisers for the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center at Barrow Neurological Institute -- in hopes of finding a cure for Parkinson’s disease.

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