Muhammad Ali has passed away at the age of 74, as reported by NBC News, and he had been battling Parkinson’s Disease for over three decades. Ali was born January 17, 1942 and he came from humble beginnings. He was born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr. and started training in boxing when he was just 12 years old. Ten years later, Ali won the world heavyweight championship in 1964. In fact, he won the title in 1964, 1974, and 1978.
Ali was born in Louisville, Kentucky and was named after his father Cassius Marcellus Clay, Sr. Both Ali and his father were named after a 19th century abolitionist and politician. Ali has one younger brother named Rahman Ali, who was also a heavyweight boxer. As for Ali’s parents, his father painted signs and billboards while his mother, Odessa O’Grady Clay, worked as a household domestic. The couple met with Odessa was just 16 years old and Cassius was 20, marrying shortly after they began their courtship. Over the years, their marriage was rumored to be troubled.
One cause of Parkinson’s Disease is head trauma from sports like boxing, which is what may have very well caused Ali to develop the syndrome. He was diagnosed with the disease in 1984.
As an adult, Ali ended up marrying four times and having nine children. His daughter Laila Ali ended up following in his footsteps and actually became an undefeated champion in boxing before her retirement. Ali showed great love to his daughter over her boxing triumphs, though he was not supportive at the beginning of her career. Ali stated:
Women are not made to be hit in the breast, and face like that… the body’s not made to be punched right here [patting his chest]. Get hit in the breast… hard… and all that.
Laila Ali ended her boxing career with 24 wins, no losses, and no draws. As for her father, Muhammad Ali suffered five major losses in his professional career, from 1960 – 1981.
On November 19, 1986, Muhammad Ali married his current wife Lonnie and they had actually been friends since his big winning year in 1964.