Muhammad Ali - Drawings by boxing legend Muhammad Ali up for auction
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Muhammad Ali

Drawings by boxing legend Muhammad Ali up for auction


Story by asiaone.com

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Published on October 1, 2021 4:06 AM
 
Other works include America: The Big Jail from 1967, and War in America which has a pre-sale estimate of $25,000 to $35,000. The Starving Children of Mississippi, from 1967, shows a figure in shorts saying
 
NEW YORK - A rare collection of sketches and paintings by American boxer Muhammad Ali - who loved to draw between fights - is going up for auction in New York next week.

The 24-piece collection, many of them in cartoon style and some of them signed, reflect Ali's interest in religion and social justice, but there are also some that picture him in the ring.

"Ref, he did float like a butterfly and sting like a bee!" reads the speech bubble from a boxer knocked out by an opponent with his arms raised in victory.

The painting, called Sting Like a Bee, was made by Ali in 1978 during the filming of the historical miniseries Freedom Road in which he starred, Bonhams auctioneers said. It is expected to fetch $40,000 (S$54,000) - $60,000 at the sale on Oct 5.

Bonhams said Ali's passion for drawing was little known, but he liked to sketch as a way of unwinding after a fight or training...

Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali was an American professional boxer, activist, entertainer, poet, and philanthropist. Nicknamed The Greatest, he is widely regarded as one of the most significant and celebrated figures of the 20th century, and is frequently ranked as the best heavyweight boxer of all time. Ali was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky. He began training as an amateur boxer at age 12. At 18, he won a gold medal in the light heavyweight division at the 1960 Summer Olympics and turned professional later that year. He became a Muslim after 1961. He won the world heavyweight championship from Sonny Liston in a major upset on February 25, 1964, at age 22.

On March 6, 1964, he announced that he no longer would be known as Cassius Clay but as Muhammad Ali. In 1966, Ali refused to be drafted into the military, citing his religious beliefs and ethical opposition to the Vietnam War. He was found guilty of draft evasion so he faced 5 years in prison and was stripped of his boxing titles. He stayed out of prison as he appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, which overturned his conviction in 1971, but he had not fought for nearly four years and lost a period of peak performance as an athlete. Ali's actions as a conscientious objector to the Vietnam War made him an icon for the larger counterculture generation, and he was a very high-profile figure of racial pride for African Americans during the civil rights movement and throughout his career. As a Muslim, Ali was initially affiliated with Elijah Muhammad's Nation of Islam . He later disavowed the NOI, adhering to Sunni Islam, and supported racial integration like his former mentor Malcolm X.

He was involved in several historic boxing matches and feuds, most notably his fights with Joe Frazier, including the Fight of the Century , the Thrilla in Manila, and his fight with George Foreman known as The Rumble in the Jungle, which was watched by a record estimated television audience of 1 billion viewers worldwide, becoming the world's most-watched live television broadcast at the time. Ali thrived in the spotlight at a time when many fighters let their managers do the talking, and he was often provocative and outlandish. He was known for trash-talking, and often free-styled with rhyme schemes and spoken word poetry, anticipating elements of hip hop.

He has been ranked the greatest heavyweight boxer of all time, and as the greatest sportsman of the 20th century by Sports Illustrated and the Sports Personality of the Century by the BBC.

Outside the ring, Ali attained success as a spoken word artist, where he received two Grammy nominations. He also featured as an actor and writer, releasing two autobiographies. Ali retired from boxing in 1981 and focused on religion, philanthropy and activism. In 1984, he made public his diagnosis of Parkinson's syndrome, which some reports attribute to boxing-related injuries, though he and his specialist physicians disputed this. He remained an active public figure globally, but in his later years made fewer public appearances as his condition worsened, and he was cared for by his family. Ali died on June 3, 2016.

Early life and amateur career
Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. was born on January 17, 1942 in Louisville, Kentucky. He had one brother. He was named after his father, Cassius Marcellus Clay Sr., who had a sister and four brothers and who himself was named in honor of the 19th-century Republican politician and staunch abolitionist Cassius Marcellus Clay, also from the state of Kentucky. Clay's father's paternal grandparents were John Clay and Sallie Anne Clay; Clay's sister Eva claimed that Sallie was a native of Madagascar.

He was a descendant of slaves of the antebellum South, and was predominantly of African descent, with some Irish and English family heritage. Ali's maternal great-grandfather, Abe Grady, emigrated from Ennis, Co. Clare, Ireland. DNA testing performed in 2018 showed that, through his paternal grandmother, Ali was a descendant of the former slave Archer Alexander, who had been chosen from the building crew as the model of a freed man for the Emancipation Memorial, and was the subject of abolitionist William Greenleaf Eliot's book, The Story of Archer Alexander: From Slavery to Freedom. Like Ali, Alexander fought for his freedom.

His father was a sign and billboard painter, and his mother, Odessa O'Grady Clay , was a domestic helper. Although Cassius Sr. was a Methodist, he allowed Odessa to bring up both Cassius Jr. and his younger brother, Rudolph 'Rud'y Clay , as Baptists. Cassius Jr. attended Central High School in Louisville. He was dyslexic, which led to difficulties in reading and writing, at school and for much of his life. Ali grew up amid racial segregation. His mother recalled one occasion when he was denied a drink of water at a store—'They wouldn't give him one because of his color. That really affected him.' He was also strongly affected by the 1955 murder of Emmett Till, which led to young Clay and a friend taking out their frustration by vandalizing a local rail yard. His daughter Hana later wrote that Ali once told her, 'Nothing would ever shake me up than the story of Emmett Till.'

Ali was first directed toward boxing by Louisville police officer and boxing coach Joe E. Martin, who encountered the 12-year-old fuming over a thief's having taken his bicycle. He told the officer he was going to 'whup' the thief. The officer told Clay he had better learn how to box first. Initially, Clay did not take up Martin's offer, but after seeing amateur boxers on a local television boxing program called Tomorro'ws Champions, Clay was interested in the prospect of fighting. He then began to work with trainer Fred Stoner, whom he credits with giving him the 'real training', eventually molding 'my style, my stamina and my system.' For the last four years of Clay's amateur career he was trained by boxing cutman Chuck Bodak.

Clay made his amateur boxing debut in 1954 against local amateur boxer Ronnie O'Keefe. He won by split decision. He went on to win six Kentucky Golden Gloves titles, two national Golden Gloves titles, an Amateur Athletic Union national title, and the light heavyweight gold medal in the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome. Clay's amateur record was 100 wins with five losses. Ali said in his 1975 autobiography that shortly after his return from the Rome Olympics, he threw his gold medal into the Ohio River after he and a friend were refused service at a 'whites-onl'y restaurant and fought with a white gang. The story was later disputed, and several of Ali's friends, including Bundini Brown and photographer Howard Bingham, denied it. Brown told Sports Illustrated writer Mark Kram, 'Honkies sure bought into that one!' Thomas Hauser's biography of Ali stated that Ali was refused service at the diner but that he lost his medal a year after he won it. Ali received a replacement medal at a basketball intermission during the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, where he lit the torch to start the games.

Early professional boxing career
Early career
Clay made his professional debut on October 29, 1960, winning a six-round decision over Tunney Hunsaker. From then until the end of 1963, Clay amassed a record of 19–0 with 15 wins by knockout. He defeated boxers including Tony Esperti, Jim Robinson, Donnie Fleeman, Alonzo Johnson, George Logan, Willi Besmanoff, LaMar Clark, Doug Jones and Henry Cooper. Clay also beat his former trainer and veteran boxer Archie Moore in a 1962 match.

These early fights were not without trials. Clay was knocked down by both Sonny Banks and Cooper. In the Cooper fight, Clay was floored by a left hook at the end of round four and was saved by the bell, going on to win in the predicted 5th round due to Cooper's severely cut eye. The fight with Doug Jones on March 13, 1963 was Clay's toughest fight during this stretch. The number two and three heavyweight contenders respectively, Clay and Jones fought on Jones' home turf at New York's Madison Square Garden. Jones staggered Clay in the first round, and the unanimous decision for Clay was greeted by boos and a rain of debris thrown into the ring. Watching on closed-circuit TV, heavyweight champ Sonny Liston quipped that if he fought Clay he might get locked up for murder. The fight was later named 'Fight of the Year' by The Ring magazine.

In each of these fights, Clay vocally belittled his opponents and vaunted his abilities. He called Jones 'an ugly little man' and Cooper a 'bum'. He said he was embarrassed to get in the ring with Alex Miteff and claimed that Madison Square Garden was 'too small for me.' Ali's trash-talk was inspired by professional wrestler 'Gorgeous George' Wagner's, after he saw George's talking ability attract huge crowds to events. Ali stated in a 1969 interview with the Associated Press' Hubert Mizel that he met with George in Las Vegas in 1961, that George told him that talking a big game would earn paying fans who either wanted to see him win or wanted to see him lose, thus Ali transformed himself into a self-described 'big-mouth and a bragger'.

In 1960, Clay left Moore's camp, partially due to Clay's refusal to do chores such as washing dishes and sweeping. To replace Moore, Clay hired Angelo Dundee to be his trainer. Clay had met Dundee in February 1957 during Clay's amateur career. Around this time, Clay sought longtime idol Sugar Ray Robinson to be his manager, but was rebuffed.

Fights against Liston
By late 1963, Clay had become the top contender for Sonny Liston's title. The fight was set for February 25, 1964, in Miami Beach. Liston was an intimidating personality, a dominating fighter with a criminal past and ties to the mob. Based on Clay's uninspired performance against Jones and Cooper in his previous two fights, and Liston's destruction of former heavyweight champion Floyd Patterson in two first-round knockouts, Clay was a 7–1 underdog. Despite this, Clay taunted Liston during the pre-fight buildup, dubbing him 'the big ugly bear', stating 'Liston even smells like a bear' and claiming 'After I beat him I'm going to donate him to the zoo.' Clay turned the pre-fight weigh-in into a circus, shouting at Liston that 'someone is going to die at ringside tonight.' Clay's pulse rate was measured at 120, more than double his normal 54. Many of those in attendance thought Clay's behavior stemmed from fear, and some commentators wondered if he would show up for the bout.

The outcome of the fight was a major upset. At the opening bell, Liston rushed at Clay, seemingly angry and looking for a quick knockout. However, Clay's superior speed and mobility enabled him to elude Liston, making the champion miss and look awkward. At the end of the first round, Clay opened up his attack and hit Liston repeatedly with jabs. Liston fought better in round two, but at the beginning of the third round Clay hit Liston with a combination that buckled his knees and opened a cut under his left eye. This was the first time Liston had ever been cut. At the end of round four, Clay was returning to his corner when he began experiencing blinding pain in his eyes and asked his trainer, Angelo Dundee, to cut off his gloves. Dundee refused. It has been speculated that the problem was due to ointment used to seal Liston's cuts, perhaps deliberately applied by his corner to his gloves. Though unconfirmed, boxing historian Bert Sugar said that two of Liston's opponents also complained about their eyes 'burning'.

Despite Liston's attempts to knock out a blinded Clay, Clay was able to survive the fifth round until sweat and tears rinsed the irritation from his eyes. In the sixth, Clay dominated, hitting Liston repeatedly. Liston did not answer the bell for the seventh round, and Clay was declared the winner by TKO. Liston stated that the reason he quit was an injured shoulder. Following the win, a triumphant Clay rushed to the edge of the ring and, pointing to the ringside press, shouted: 'Eat your words!' He added, 'I am the greatest! I shook up the world. I'm the prettiest thing that ever lived.'

At ringside post fight, Clay appeared unconvinced that the fight was stopped due to a Liston shoulder injury, saying that the only injury Liston had was 'an open eye, a big cut eye!' When told by Joe Louis that the injury was a 'left arm thrown out of its socket,' Clay quipped, 'Yeah, swinging at nothing, who wouldn't?'

In winning this fight at the age of 22, Clay became the youngest boxer to take the title from a reigning heavyweight champion. However, Floyd Patterson remained the youngest to win the heavyweight championship, doing so at the age 21 during an elimination bout following Rocky Marciano's retirement. Mike Tyson broke both records in 1986 when he defeated Trevor Berbick to win the heavyweight title at age 20.

Soon after the Liston fight, Clay changed his name to Cassius X, and then later to Muhammad Ali upon converting to Islam and affiliating with the Nation of Islam. Ali then faced a rematch with Liston scheduled for May 1965 in Lewiston, Maine. It had been scheduled for Boston the previous November, but was postponed for six months due to Ali's emergency surgery for a hernia three days before. The fight was controversial. Midway through the first round, Liston was knocked down by a difficult-to-see blow the press dubbed a 'phantom punch'. Referee Jersey Joe Walcott did not begin the count immediately after the knockdown, as Ali refused to retreat to a neutral corner. Liston rose after he had been down for about 20 seconds, and the fight momentarily continued. However a few seconds later Walcott, having been informed by the timekeepers that Liston had been down for a count of 10, stopped the match and declared Ali the winner by knockout. The entire fight lasted less than two minutes.

It has since been speculated that Liston purposely dropped to the ground. Proposed motivations include threats on his life from the Nation of Islam, that he had bet against himself and that he 'took a dive' to pay off debts. Slow-motion replays show that Liston was jarred by a chopping right from Ali, although it is unclear whether the blow was a genuine knockout punch.

Fight against Patterson
Ali defended his title against former heavyweight champion Floyd Patterson on November 22, 1965. Before the match, Ali mocked Patterson, who was widely known to call him by his former name Cassius Clay, as an 'Uncle Tom', calling him 'The Rabbit'. Although Ali clearly had the better of Patterson, who appeared injured during the fight, the match lasted 12 rounds before being called on a technical knockout. Patterson later said he had strained his sacroiliac. Ali was criticized in the sports media for appearing to have toyed with Patterson during the fight.

Patterson biographer W. K. Stratton claims that the conflict between Ali and Patterson was not genuine but was staged to increase ticket sales and the closed-circuit viewing audience, with both men complicit in the theatrics. Stratton also cites an interview by Howard Cosell in which Ali explained that rather than toying with Patterson, he refrained from knocking him out after it became apparent Patterson was injured. Patterson later said that he had never been hit by punches as soft as Ali's. Stratton states that Ali arranged the second fight, in 1972, with the financially struggling Patterson to help the former champion earn enough money to pay a debt to the IRS.

Main Bout
After the Patterson fight, Ali founded his own promotion company, Main Bout. The company mainly handled Ali's boxing promotions and pay-per-view closed-circuit television broadcasts. The company's stockholders were mainly fellow Nation of Islam members, along with several others, including Bob Arum.

Ali and then-WBA heavyweight champion boxer Ernie Terrell had agreed to meet for a bout in Chicago on March 29, 1966 . But in February Ali was reclassified by the Louisville draft board as 1-A from 1-Y, and he indicated that he would refuse to serve, commenting to the press, 'I ain't got nothing against no Viet Cong; no Viet Cong never called me nigger.' Amidst the media and public outcry over Ali's stance, the Illinois Athletic Commission refused to sanction the fight, citing technicalities.

Instead, Ali traveled to Canada and Europe and won championship bouts against George Chuvalo, Henry Cooper, Brian London and Karl Mildenberger.

Ali returned to the United States to fight Cleveland Williams in the Houston Astrodome on November 14, 1966. The bout drew a record-breaking indoor crowd of 35,460 people. Williams had once been considered among the hardest punchers in the heavyweight division, but in 1964 he had been shot at point-blank range by a Texas policeman, resulting in the loss of one kidney and 3.0 metres of his small intestine. Ali dominated Williams, winning a third-round technical knockout in what some consider the finest performance of his career.

Ali fought Terrell in Houston on February 6, 1967. Terrell, who was unbeaten in five years and had defeated many of the boxers Ali had faced, was billed as Ali's toughest opponent since Liston; he was big, strong and had a three-inch reach advantage over Ali. During the lead up to the bout, Terrell repeatedly called Ali 'Cla'y, much to Ali's annoyance. The two almost came to blows over the name issue in a pre-fight interview with Howard Cosell. Ali seemed intent on humiliating Terrell. 'I want to torture him', he said. 'A clean knockout is too good for him.' The fight was close until the seventh round, when Ali bloodied Terrell and almost knocked him out.

In the eighth round, Ali taunted Terrell, hitting him with jabs and shouting between punches, 'What's my name, Uncle Tom ... what's my name?' Ali won a unanimous 15-round decision. Terrell claimed that early in the fight Ali deliberately thumbed him in the eye, forcing him to fight half-blind, and then, in a clinch, rubbed the wounded eye against the ropes. Because of Ali's apparent intent to prolong the fight to inflict maximum punishment, critics described the bout as 'one of the ugliest boxing fights.' Tex Maule later wrote: 'It was a wonderful demonstration of boxing skill and a barbarous display of cruelty.' Ali denied the accusations of cruelty but, for Ali's critics, the fight provided more evidence of his arrogance.

After Ali's title defense against Zora Folley on March 22, he was stripped of his title due to his refusal to be drafted to army service. His boxing license was also suspended by the state of New York. He was convicted of draft evasion on June 20 and sentenced to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. He paid a bond and remained free while the verdict was being appealed.

Personal life
Marriages and children
Ali was married four times and had seven daughters and two sons. Ali was introduced to cocktail waitress Sonji Roi by Herbert Muhammad and asked her to marry him after their first date. They were wed approximately one month later on August 14, 1964. They quarreled over Sonji's refusal to join the Nation Of Islam. According to Ali, 'She wouldn't do what she was supposed to do. She wore lipstick; she went into bars; she dressed in clothes that were revealing and didn't look right.' The marriage was childless and they divorced on January 10, 1966. Just before the divorce was finalized, Ali sent Sonji a note: 'You traded heaven for hell, baby.' Ali's brother Rahman said that she was Ali's only true love and the Nation of Islam made Ali divorce her and Ali never got over it.

On August 17, 1967, Ali married Belinda Boyd. Born into a Chicago family that had converted to the Nation Of Islam, she later changed her name to Khalilah Ali, though she was still called Belinda by old friends and family. They had four children: author and rapper Maryum 'May Ma'y ; twins Jamillah and Rasheda , who married Robert Walsh and has a son, Biaggio Ali, born in 1998; and Muhammad Ali Jr. .

Ali was a resident of Cherry Hill, New Jersey in the early 1970s. At age 32 in 1974, Ali began an extramarital relationship with 16-year-old Wanda Bolton with whom he fathered another daughter, Khaliah . While still married to Belinda, Ali married Aaisha in an Islamic ceremony that was not legally recognized. According to Khaliah, Aaisha and her mother lived at Ali's Deer Lake training camp alongside Belinda and her children. In January 1985, Aaisha sued Ali for unpaid palimony. The case was settled when Ali agreed to set up a $200,000 trust fund for Khaliah. In 2001 Khaliah was quoted as saying she believed her father viewed her as 'a mistake.' He had another daughter, Miya , from an extramarital relationship with Patricia Harvell.

By the summer of 1977, his second marriage ended due to Ali's repeated infidelity, and he had married actress and model Veronica Porché. At the time of their marriage, they had a daughter, Hana, and Veronica was pregnant with their second child. Their second daughter, Laila Ali, was born in December 1977. By 1986, Ali and Porché were divorced due to Ali's continuous infidelity. Porché said of Ali's infidelity, 'It was too much temptation for him, with women who threw themselves at him, It didn't mean anything. He didn't have affairs – he had one-night stands. I knew beyond a doubt there were no feelings involved. It was so obvious, It was easy to forgive him.'

On November 19, 1986, Ali married Yolanda 'Lonnie' Williams. Lonnie first met Ali at the age of 6 when her family moved to Louisville in 1963. In 1982, she became Ali's primary caregiver and in return, he paid for her to attend graduate school at UCLA. Together they adopted a son, Asaad Amin , when Asaad was five months old. In 1992, Lonnie incorporated Greatest of All Time, Inc. to consolidate and license his intellectual properties for commercial purposes. She served as the vice president and treasurer until the sale of the company in 2006.

Kiiursti Mensah-Ali says she is Ali's biological daughter with Barbara Mensah, with whom he allegedly had a 20-year relationship, citing photographs and a paternity test conducted in 1988. She said he accepted responsibility and took care of her, but all contacts with him were cut off after he married his fourth wife Lonnie. Kiiursti says she has a relationship with his other children. After his death she again made passionate appeals to be allowed to mourn at his funeral.

In 2010, Osmon Williams came forward claiming to be Ali's biological son. His mother Temica Williams launched a $3 million lawsuit against Ali in 1981 for sexual assault, claiming that she had started a sexual relationship with him when she was 12, and that her son Osmon was fathered by Ali. She further alleged that Ali had originally supported her and her son financially, but stopped doing so after four years. The case went on until 1986 and was eventually thrown out as her allegations were deemed to be barred by the statute of limitations. According to Veronica, Ali admitted to the affair with Williams, but did not believe Osmon was his son which Veronica supported by saying 'Everybody in the camp was going with that girl'. Ali biographer and friend Thomas Hauser has said this claim was of 'questionable veracit'y.

Ali then lived in Scottsdale, Arizona with Lonnie. In January 2007, it was reported that they had put their home in Berrien Springs, Michigan, which they had bought in 1975, up for sale and had purchased a home in eastern Jefferson County, Kentucky for $1,875,000. Both homes were subsequently sold after Ali's death with Lonnie living in their remaining home in Paradise Valley, Arizona. Lonnie converted to Islam from Catholicism in her late twenties.

In an interview in 1974, Ali said, 'If they say stand and salute the flag I do that out of respect, because I'm in the countr'y. Ali would later say, 'If America was in trouble and real war came, I'd be on the front line if we had been attacked. But I could see that wasn't right'. He also said, 'Black men would go over there and fight, but when they came home, they couldn't even be served a hamburger.'

Ali's daughter Laila was a professional boxer from 1999 until 2007, despite her father's previous opposition to women's boxing. In 1978, he said 'Women are not made to be hit in the breast, and face like that.' Ali still attended a number of his daughter's fights and later admitted to Laila he was wrong. Ali's daughter Hana is married to Bellator middleweight fighter Kevin Casey. Hana wrote about her father, 'His love for people was extraordinary. I would get home from school to find homeless families sleeping in our guest room. He'd see them on the street, pile them into his Rolls-Royce and bring them home. He'd buy them clothes, take them to hotels and pay the bills for months in advance.' She also said celebrities like Michael Jackson and Clint Eastwood would often visit Ali. After Ali met a lesbian couple who were fans of his in 1997, he smiled and said to his friend Hauser, "They look like they're happy together". Hauser wrote about the story, 'The thought that Liz and Roz were happy pleased Muhammad. Ali wanted people to be happy.'

Philanthropy, humanitarianism and politics
Ali was known for being a humanitarian and philanthropist. He focused on practicing his Islamic duty of charity and good deeds, donating millions to charity organizations and disadvantaged people of all religious backgrounds. It is estimated that Ali helped to feed more than 22 million people afflicted by hunger across the world. Early in his career, one of his main focuses was youth education. He spoke at several historically black colleges and universities about the importance of education, and became the largest single black donor to the United Negro College Fund in 1967 by way of a $10,000 donation . In late 1966, he also pledged to donate a total of $100,000 to the UNCF , and paid $4,500 per closed circuit installation at six HBCUs so they could watch his fights.

Ali began visiting Africa, starting in 1964 when he visited Ghana. In 1974, he visited a Palestinian refugee camp in Southern Lebanon, where Ali declared 'support for the Palestinian struggle to liberate their homeland.' In 1978, following his loss to Spinks and before winning the rematch, Ali visited Bangladesh and received honorary citizenship there. The same year, he participated in The Longest Walk, a protest march in the United States in support of Native American rights, along with singer Stevie Wonder and actor Marlon Brando.

In 1980, Ali was recruited by President Jimmy Carter for a diplomatic mission to Africa, in an effort to persuade a number of African governments to join the US-led boycott of the Moscow Olympics . According to Ali biographer Thomas Hauser, 'at best, it was ill-conceived; at worst, a diplomatic disaster.' The Tanzanian government was insulted that Carter had sent an athlete to discuss a serious political issue. One official asked whether the United States would 'send Chris Evert to negotiate with London.' Consequently, Ali was only received by the youth and culture minister, rather than President Julius Nyerere. Ali was unable to explain why the African countries should join the US boycott when it had failed to support the African boycott of the 1976 Olympics , and was unaware that the Soviet Union was sponsoring popular revolutionary movements in Africa. Ali conceded 'They didn't tell me about that in America', and complained that Carter had sent him 'around the world to take the whupping over American policies.' The Nigerian government also rebuffed him and confirmed that they would be participating in the Moscow games. Ali did, however, convince the government of Kenya to boycott the Olympics.

On January 19, 1981, in Los Angeles, Ali talked a suicidal man down from jumping off a ninth-floor ledge, an event that made national news In 1984, Ali announced his support for the re-election of United States President Ronald Reagan. When asked to elaborate on his endorsement of Reagan, Ali told reporters, 'He's keeping God in schools and that's enough.' In 1985, he visited Israel to request the release of Muslim prisoners at Atlit detainee camp, which Israel declined.

Around 1987, the California Bicentennial Foundation for the U.S. Constitution selected Ali to personify the vitality of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. Ali rode on a float at the following year's Tournament of Roses Parade, launching the U.S. Constitution's 200th birthday commemoration. In 1988, during the First Intifada, Ali participated in a Chicago rally in support of Palestine. The same year, he visited Sudan to raise awareness about the plight of famine victims. According to Politico, Ali supported Orrin Hatch politically. In 1989, he participated in an Indian charity event with the Muslim Educational Society in Kozhikode, Kerala, along with Bollywood actor Dilip Kumar.

In 1990, Ali traveled to Iraq prior to the Gulf War, and met with Saddam Hussein in an attempt to negotiate the release of American hostages. Ali secured the release of the hostages, in exchange for promising Hussein that he would bring America 'an honest account' of Iraq. Despite arranging the hostages release, he received criticism from President George H. W. Bush, and Joseph C. Wilson, the highest-ranking American diplomat in Baghdad.

Ali cooperated with Thomas Hauser on a biography, Muhammad Ali: His Life and Times. The oral history was published in 1991.

In 1994, Ali campaigned to the United States government to come to the aid of refugees afflicted by the Rwandan genocide, and to donate to organizations helping Rwandan refugees.

In 1996, he lit the flame at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia. It was watched by an estimated 3.5 billion viewers worldwide.

On November 17, 2002, Ali went to Afghanistan as the 'U.N. Messenger of Peace.' He was in Kabul for a three-day goodwill mission as a special guest of the UN.

On September 1, 2009, Ali visited Ennis, County Clare, Ireland, the home of his great-grandfather, Abe Grady, who emigrated to the U.S. in the 1860s, eventually settling in Kentucky.

On July 27, 2012, Ali was a titular bearer of the Olympic flag during the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. He was helped to his feet by his wife Lonnie to stand before the flag due to his Parkinson's Syndrome rendering him unable to carry it into the stadium. The same year, he was awarded the Philadelphia Liberty Medal in recognition of his lifelong efforts in activism, philanthropy and humanitarianism.

Earnings
By 1978, Ali's total fight purse earnings were estimated to be nearly $60 million , including an estimated $47.45 million grossed between 1970 and 1978. By 1980, his total fight purse earnings were estimated to be up to $70 million .

In 1978, Ali revealed that he was 'broke' and several news outlets reported his net worth to be an estimated $3.5 million . The press attributed his decline in wealth to several factors, including taxes consuming at least half of his income, management taking a third of his income, his lifestyle, and spending on family, charity and religious causes.

In 2006, Ali sold his name and image for $50 million, after which Forbes estimated his net worth to be $55 million in 2006. Following his death in 2016, his fortune was estimated to be between $50 million and $80 million.

Declining health
Ali's bout with Parkinson's Syndrome led to a gradual decline in his health, though he was still active into the early years of the millennium, promoting his own biopic, Ali, in 2001. That year he also contributed an on-camera segment to the America: A Tribute to Heroes benefit concert.

Ali and Michael J. Fox testify before a Senate committee on providing government funding to combat Parkinson's. In 1998, Ali began working with actor Michael J. Fox, who has Parkinson's disease, to raise awareness and fund research for a cure. They made a joint appearance before Congress to push the case in 2002. In 2000, Ali worked with the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Disease to raise awareness and encourage donations for research.

In February 2013, Ali's brother Rahman Ali said Muhammad could no longer speak and could be dead within days. Ali's daughter May May Ali responded to the rumors, stating that she had talked to him on the phone the morning of February 3 and he was fine. On December 20, 2014, Ali was hospitalized for a mild case of pneumonia. Ali was once again hospitalized on January 15, 2015, for a urinary tract infection after being found unresponsive at a guest house in Scottsdale, Arizona. He was released the next day.

Death
Ali was hospitalized in Scottsdale, Arizona, on June 2, 2016, with a respiratory illness. Though his condition was initially described as fair, it worsened, and he died the following day at the age of 74 from septic shock.

News coverage and tributes
Following Ali's death, he was the number-one trending topic on Twitter for over 12 hours and on Facebook for several days. BET played their documentary Muhammad Ali: Made In Miami. ESPN played four hours of non-stop commercial-free coverage of Ali. News networks, such as ABC News, BBC, CNN, and Fox News, also covered him extensively.

He was mourned globally, and a family spokesman said the family 'certainly believes that Muhammad was a citizen of the world ... and they know that the world grieves with him.' Politicians such as Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, David Cameron and more paid tribute to Ali. Ali also received numerous tributes from the world of sports including Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Floyd Mayweather, Mike Tyson, the Miami Marlins, LeBron James, Steph Curry and more. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer stated, 'Muhammad Ali belongs to the world. But he only has one hometown.'

The day after Ali's death, the UFC paid tribute to Ali at their UFC 199 event in a lengthy video tribute package, crediting Ali for his accomplishments and inspiring multiple UFC champions.

Memorial
External video
video icon 'Muhammad Ali Memorial Service', C-SPAN Ali's funeral had been pre-planned by himself and others for several years prior to his actual death. The services began in Louisville on June 9, 2016, with an Islamic Janazah prayer service at Freedom Hall on the grounds of the Kentucky Exposition Center. On June 10, 2016, the funeral procession passed through the streets of Louisville ending at Cave Hill Cemetery, where his body was interred during a private ceremony. A public memorial service for Ali at downtown Louisville's KFC Yum! Center was held during the afternoon of June 10. The pallbearers included Will Smith, Lennox Lewis and Mike Tyson, with honorary pallbearers including George Chuvalo, Larry Holmes and George Foreman. Ali's memorial was watched by an estimated 1 billion viewers worldwide.

Legacy
President George W. Bush embraces Ali after presenting him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005, during ceremonies at the White House Ali remains the only three-time lineal heavyweight champion. He is the only boxer to be named The Ring magazine Fighter of the Year six times, and was involved in more Ring 'Fight of the Year' bouts than any other fighter. He was one of only three boxers to be named 'Sportsman of the Year' by Sports Illustrated. Muhammad Ali was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in its first year and held wins over seven other Hall of Fame inductees during an era that has been called the golden age of heavyweight boxing. The Associated Press ranked him as the second best boxer and best heavyweight of the 20th century. His joint records of beating 21 boxers for the world heavyweight title and winning 14 unified title bouts stood for 35 years.

In 1978, three years before Ali's permanent retirement, the Louisville Board of Aldermen in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, voted 6–5 to rename Walnut Street to Muhammad Ali Boulevard. This was controversial at the time, as within a week 12 of the 70 street signs were stolen. Earlier that year, a committee of the Jefferson County Public Schools considered renaming Ali's alma mater, Central High School, in his honor, but the motion failed to pass. In time, Muhammad Ali Boulevard—and Ali himself—came to be well accepted in his hometown.

Ali was named one of the 100 most influential Americans of the 20th century by Life magazine in 1990. In 1993, the Associated Press reported that Ali was tied with Babe Ruth as the most recognized athlete, out of over 800 dead or living athletes, in America. The study found that over 97% of Americans over 12 years of age identified both Ali and Ruth. He was the recipient of the 1997 Arthur Ashe Courage Award.

At the end of the 20th century he was ranked at or near the top of most lists of the century's greatest athletes. He was crowned Sportsman of the Century by Sports Illustrated. Named BBC's Sports Personality of the Century, he received more votes than the other five candidates combined. He was named Athlete of the Century by USA Today, and ranked as the third greatest athlete of the 20th century by ESPN SportsCentury. Ali was named 'Kentucky Athlete of the Centur'y by the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame in ceremonies at the Galt House East.

In 1999, Time magazine named Ali one of the 100 Most Important People of the 20th Century. On January 8, 2001, Muhammad Ali was presented with the Presidential Citizens Medal by President Bill Clinton. In November 2005, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush, followed by the Otto Hahn Peace Medal in Gold of the UN Association of Germany in Berlin for his work with the civil rights movement and the United Nations, which he received on December 17, 2005.

The Muhammad Ali Center, alongside Interstate 64 on Louisville, Kentucky's riverfront On November 19, 2005, Ali and his wife Lonnie Ali opened the $60 million non-profit Muhammad Ali Center in downtown Louisville. In addition to displaying his boxing memorabilia, the center focuses on core themes of peace, social responsibility, respect, and personal growth. On June 5, 2007, he received an honorary doctorate of humanities at Princeton University's 260th graduation ceremony.

Ali Mall, located in Araneta Center, Quezon City, Philippines, is named after him. Construction of the mall, the first of its kind in the Philippines, began shortly after Ali's victory in a match with Joe Frazier in nearby Araneta Coliseum in 1975. The mall opened in 1976 with Ali attending its opening.

The 1976 Muhammad Ali vs. Antonio Inoki fight played an important role in the history of mixed martial arts. In Japan, the match inspired Inoki's students Masakatsu Funaki and Minoru Suzuki to found Pancrase in 1993, which in turn inspired the foundation of Pride Fighting Championships in 1997. Pride was acquired by its rival, Ultimate Fighting Championship, in 2007.

The Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act was introduced in 1999 and passed in 2000, to protect the rights and welfare of boxers in the United States. In May 2016, a bill was introduced to United States Congress by Markwayne Mullin, a politician and former MMA fighter, to extend the Ali Act to mixed martial arts. In June 2016, US senator Rand Paul proposed an amendment to the US draft laws named after Ali, a proposal to eliminate the Selective Service System.

In 2015, Sports Illustrated renamed its Sportsman Legacy Award to the Sports Illustrated's Muhammad Ali Legacy Award. The annual award was originally created in 2008 and honors former 'sports figures who embody the ideals of sportsmanship, leadership and philanthropy as vehicles for changing the world.' Ali first appeared on the magazine's cover in 1963 and went on to be featured on numerous covers during his storied career.

On January 13, 2017, seven months or so after Ali's death, and 4 days before what would have been his 75th birthday, the Muhammad Ali Commemorative Coin Act was introduced into the 115th Congress , as H.R. 579 and as S. 166 . However, both 'died' within 10 days.