Muhammad Ali was an American Olympic gold medalist, an activist, and a family man.
His time spent inside the boxing ring turned him into one of the greatest sports figures of the 20th century and perhaps of all-time.
The heavyweight champion of the world, born Cassius Clay, fought in 61 bouts with 56 wins of which 37 were by way of knockout. He lost just 5 of his matches during his professional career.
His celebrity spread so far that he regularly held council with such famous people as Fidel Castro, the Dalai Lama, various U.S. Presidents, and the Pope.
Here are some of Ali’s greatest photos you have probably never seen before.
1. The 1960 Olympics in Rome
Muhammad Ali, still fighting under his former name, Cassius Clay, represented the United States of America in the 1960 Olympics. Ali traveled to Rome where he faced off against Soviet boxer Gennady Schatkov in a much anticipated match. Ali claimed the victory and took home the gold medal. His career skyrocketed along with his international notoriety after this famous fight.
He was a butterfly and a bee in the ring but his sting was only used to specifically attack his opponents. At home, Ali was a tender and loving father. In 1970 this photo was snapped as Ali fed one of his 10-week old twins, Reeshemah and Jamillah. The photo was taken inside their Philadelphia home. Ali was often spotted with his family, even as his fame continued to rise and he traveled around the world for his famous bouts.
3. The Champion Trains
A very young heavyweight fighter by the name of Cassius Clay trains at City Parks Gym in New York City on February 8, 1962. Ali was known for his long and tedious workouts and training sessions. There was very good reason he was able to float around the ring and so easily defeat many of his opponents. He famously proclaimed, “I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.'”
4. Ali Was No Stranger To Fun
In this photo, Cassius Clay celebrated with drinks at a restaurant in Louisville, Kentucky. The photo was taken in 1963. Ali had a lot to celebrate in the 1960s as he continued to defend championships and take the world by storm. There are a number of photos in which he is seen throwing back drinks with beautiful women and famous friends.
5. Mohammad Ali — The Goofball
Mohammad Ali was serious in the ring but outside of a fight he was often seen goofing off for the amusement of his fans. This photo was taken on March 6, 1963. He was preparing for a fight with Doug Jones, an opponent he promised to “flatten” at Madison Square Garden on March 13. He beat Jones in a unanimous decision in what would be called the Ring’s Fight of the Year.
6. Ali Was Not Always Liked
When Mohammad Ali stepped into the right at Madison Square Garden to fight Doug Jones in 1963 he was met with deafening boos from many people in the crowd. Ali wasn’t universally liked at this time and he was squaring off against Jones, a local New York City fighter who had already won admiration from many fans. After Ali claimed a unanimous decision but was booed by fans as they threw debris at him inside the ring.
7. Fists Of Fury
When Mohammad Ali was at his best he exacted a type of punishment on his opponents that has been seldom seen in professional boxing. During this match in 1966, Ali threw a right hook that tore open British challenger Henry Cooper’s left eye. Referee George Smith stopped the fight shortly after the sixth round because of Cooper’s eye injury. Ali was able to retain his title at the fight at Highbury Stadium.
8. Ali Was Friends With Some Of His Toughest Opponents
Boxer Ken Norton and Mohammad Ali enjoyed a playful game of tag as they ran across Yankee Stadium. The two men would face off in a match at Yankee Stadium on September 28, 1976. Ali claimed the win by unanimous decision. They may have been all smiles in this photo but Ali was all business in the ring, easily dismantling his formidable opponent.
9. They Love Him. Yeah Yeah Yeah.
The greatest boxer of all-time with the greatest band of all time. Ali, then Cassius Clay, posed with The Beatles while working out at his training camp. We actually believe that had he punched one of the Fab Four his strength actually would have reverberated through the entire band, leading to a lot of flattened Beatles and a lot of saddened fans.
10. A Heavyweight Boxer And His Mommy
Odessa Grady Clay wasn’t exactly a small lady but she was no match for her heavyweight boxing champ son. In this picture, a young Cassius Clay picked up his mom in a room at the Carlton House Hotel in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1963. Mohammad Ali regularly spoke about his mom. The world champ was definitely a loving and devoted family man.
11. Cleveland Williams Was Laid Out
Cleveland Williams in this photo from November 14, 1966, displayed what would become a regular site among Ali’s competitors. He laid sprawled out on the canvas while referee Harry Kessler sent Muhammad Ali to a neutral corner. Ali claimed victory at the heavyweight bout which went down at the Astrodome. The famous boxer took the win with a TKO.
12. Ali Training Sammy Davis Jr.
Mohammad Ali is pictured here with singer and comedian Sammy Davis Jr. Later, Clay visited with the famed singer after his performance at the Majestic Theatre on Broadway in New York City. Davis was performing in Golden Boy at the time of their meeting. Ali was often spotted with his celebrity friends.
Muhammad Ali’s famous quote “I float like a butterfly and sting like a bee” perfectly defined his time spent inside the ring. However, Ali was more than just a boxer. He was a family man, a lover of parties, and a cultural icon that changed the sport of boxing forever. His legacy will live on for a very long time.