Muhammad Ali And His Impact On Society 

“Ding ding” two fighters advance each other from their corners and begin to trade punches back and forth. One fighting for a much bigger cause than he knows at the time the other just trying to hold on to a title. This was a boxing match in 1964 for the heavy weight title of the world between Sonny Liston and Cassius Clay (later known as Muhammed Ali). Muhammed Ali would win this fight and obtain the heavy weight title from Sonny Liston. Muhammed Ali is one of the greatest fighters of his era, possibly even of all time. Muhammed Ali grew up in a not pleasant time for black people, he fought his way to the top of the boxing world, and he took a stand for what he believed in.

Muhammad Ali born January 17, 1942 in Louisville, Kentucky. Ali “grew up in the American South in a time of segregated public facilities. His father, Cassius Marcellus Clay, Sr., supported a wife and two sons by painting billboards and signs. His mother, Odessa Grady Clay, worked as a household domestic” (Hauser). They lived in a time of segregation they also lived in a southern state, so it was a little harsher. Ali took up boxing at a young age. He was coached by a Louisville policeman named Joe Martin. He battled his way through as an amateur fighter. In 1960 he went to the Olympics and won gold in the 175lbs weight class. Ali’s debuted in his professional career on October 29, 1960 winning his first bout. He would go on to win nine teen fights before finally getting his shot at the champion, Sonny Liston. “Clay was indeed crowned heavyweight champion of the world. In the ring after the fight, the new champ roared, “I am the greatest!” (editors, He was indeed the greatest fighter of his era capturing the heavy weight title on three separate occasions and being the first fighter to ever do so.

After winning the heavyweight title for the first time that was when his life started to change, and Ali began to challenge the norms set by white Americans. The day after his historical win Cassius Clay Jr. boxing heavyweight champion of the world converted to the religion of Islam, and became the man we know and love today, Muhammad Ali. At this time in America to convert your religion and change your name was not seen as an American thing to do and many people were outraged. He came back saying “Cassius Clay is a slave name. I didn't choose it, and I didn't want it,' he said. 'I am Muhammad Ali, a free name” (Strafenburg). He did not just want change for himself. He wanted change for everyone all around the world. Ali stood up for what he believed in and he used his platform in boxing to spread his thoughts and challenge the norm.

Fast forward to the year 1967 the Vietnam war was going on and a lot of people were being drafted to help with the efforts. Even people of high status such as Muhammad Ali were being drafted. When he was drafted on April 28, 1967, he stated his religious beliefs and refused his induction, the refusal followed a statement from 14 months earlier saying “I ain’t got no quarrel them Vietcong” says Hauser. Following these events on June 20, 1967 Ali was stripped of the heavyweight title and every state athletic commission banned him for three and half years, and on top of that he criminally indicted for his refusal into the U.S. Armed Forces. Ali also said “I’m not going 10,000 miles from home to continue the domination of white slave masters of the darker people the world over” says Strafenburg. He wanted nothing to do with the Vietnam war because not only did it go against his religious beliefs, but it showed that he was not ok with how white people were controlling things. Some people thought he was doing more harm than good when it came to stand up for the rights of blacks back then. The majority of people thought him to be a fearless leader for the things he was doing.

Ali in his later years in life Fought a battle with Parkinson’s Disease which ultimately took his life at the age of 74. Before dying from his illness and after everything he did in his early years in life Ali remained to help people. This man helped so many people through delivering things and going on goodwill missions. He was not afraid when it came to helping others as shown in what he did in 1990. In 1990 Ali traveled to Iraq to negotiate the release of 15 American hostages says Becker. He was successful in the attempt; although, he went against the wishes of the government again. Becker also said while Ali was in Iraq trying to free the hostages president Bush was in Saudi Arabia speaking to the troops getting ready for war. That just shows the two different sides and how Ali believed things could be solved without war.

It is safe to say the Muhammad Ali was a great man who not only stood for himself, but he stood for everyone no matter race or religion. He was truly the “People’s Champ” which was defined by his actions to make things better. Along with all of his boxing awards like being inducted into the Hall of Fame he was given many other awards and honors for his achievements out of the ring. USA Today’s Jon Saraceno says the Ali was awarded honors such as: Presidential Medal of Freedom, 2005; Liberty Medal from the National Constitution Center in 2012 Amnesty International's Lifetime Achievement Award as well as being a peace messenger for the united nations for work with developing countries from 98’-08’.

Works Cited

  • Becker, B. (n.d.). I was with Muhammad Ali on his hostage-release trip to Iraq — and the media has it all wrong. In Answer coalition . Retrieved from, 'Muhammad Ali.' History , A&E television network, 12 Sept. 2018,
  • Hauser, T. (n.d.). Muhammad Ali AMERICAN BOXER . In Encyclopedia Britannica . Retrieved from
  • Saraceno, J. (n.d.). Appreciation: Muhammad Ali was a champion in and out of the boxing ring. In USA Today . Retrieved from
  • Strafenburg, Jess. 'Muhammad Ali: symbol of the civil rights movement.' Independent , 4 June 2016,
16 December 2021
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