How Famous Was Muhammad Ali?

By Tiara

The word “icon” was not in use back when Muhammad Ali first achieved fame, but it is an appropriate descriptor for him. He lived his life with conviction and he inspired others to do the same through his actions and speeches. People all over the world know who Ali is now, which makes him very famous.

Ali became well-known after taking up boxing as a child and then going pro at just 23 years old. Since then, he has been featured in several films and documentaries, received many accolades, and made millions of dollars in merchandise sales.

He is also one of only three athletes ever to be awarded the Congressional Medal Of Honor, the highest honor that can be given out by Congress. That is why he is so respected today.

Many people consider him to be the greatest boxer of all time. Others say Joe Louis or Rocky Marciano are better than him because they won more championships. What matters most about Ali is that he always gave his best even if things got tough and there were no clear winners.

First Muslim athlete to win an Olympic gold medal

how famous was muhammad ali

When it comes down to defining who was truly influential in sports, there’s no doubt that Muhammad Ali will always hold a special place within the community. As one of the most well-known athletes in history, he left his mark both on the field and beyond.

Ali won more than 30 professional boxing championships across three weight classes, making him not only the greatest boxer of all time but also the second highest grossing fighter ever (only behind Floyd Mayweather). He also competed in five additional sports, including basketball, soccer, track, and light heavyweight wrestling, where he finished with six wins and two losses.

He is arguably the biggest name in organized athletics as a whole, due to his unmatched popularity and influence outside of the ring. His speeches and interviews have been compiled into over 20 books and his quotes can be found on various tributes and memorabilia products.

But even if you consider his career strictly from a competition standpoint, he still holds up quite well. Between 1981 and 1996, he went 49–6–2 and earned at least eight votes for every major championship — the Light Heavyweight, Welterweight, Middleweight, and Supermiddleweight titles.

And while some may argue about which division he should be ranked higher in, there isn’t much debate when comparing his achievements in each weight class. That makes him the first person ever to achieve a clean sweep in any weight category.

First Muslim athlete to be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom

how famous was muhammad ali

The first person to receive this prestigious honor was none other than President Barack Obama himself in August 2013. Since then, there have been eight more people to win it including Ali. He received his medal from President George W. Bush back in 2006.

Ali’s legacy will live on for years to come. Not only did he become one of the most famous athletes ever, but he also made an incredible amount of money doing what he loved.

He spent almost half his life as an active professional athlete and still earned over $100 million during his career. This is just spectacular!

But beyond all of that, he left an unforgettable impact on our culture. When you consider how many lives he impacted by sharing his faith and encouraging others to do the same, it becomes very impressive.

His influence extended far outside of sports too such as helping raised awareness about mental health issues.

Changed how people viewed sports and athletes

how famous was muhammad ali

In just his second year as an athlete, he set a new bar for what it means to be famous. He made you look at not only his sport, but also him in a different light. Before meeting this young man with this incredible charisma, most people did not know much about professional wrestlers.

Ali inspired everyone — from kids who wanted to try their hand at boxing or wrestling, to adults who admired his work outside of athletics. His presence was powerful, and he knew how to use it to influence others.

He is well-known for giving speeches that inspire action or change self-beliefs, promoting healthy lifestyle choices for his audience. His speeches often include references to Allah, making him very religious.

His legacy will live on forever as one of the greatest ever sports stars, and he will never stop leaving his mark on this world.

Helped push for racial equality in sports

how famous was muhammad ali

In his earlier years, Muhammad Ali mostly competed against white athletes as he pursued boxing championships. It was not until later that his career took off when he began to challenge social norms and race relations within America.

Ali would go on to be one of the most famous people in history for using his status to promote civil rights. He is best known for taking a stand against what he called “the racist American culture” by refusing to fight an opponent because he was black.

He also made waves when he refused to shake hands with US President George W. Bush during the latter's second term due to their disagreement over the Iraq War.

Ali even went so far as to say that he wouldn't serve in any military organization that didn't respect human rights. This earned him the nickname "The People's Champion.

Won the fight against cancer

how famous was muhammad ali

The world knows him for his boxing prowess, but what many don’t know is just how popular he was outside of the ring. He became one of the most recognizable figures in America not because of his athletic skills or leadership potential, but due to his unwavering dedication to helping others.

Ali would go on to win more than 30 awards for his humanitarian work including two Nobel Prizes (one for Peace in 2000) and being named by Time Magazine as one of the 100 Most Important People in the World in 2004.

He also received several other prestigious honors such as induction into both the National Boxing Hall of Fame and International Boxing Federation Hall of Fame, honorary doctorates from nearly 20 universities, and having every state honor him with their championship rings.

But none of that mattered unless he could actually do something beyond give speeches about peace and have people listen. So, he got involved in various charities and efforts to help those in need.

These include working to save lives through kidney transplants, starting an organization to promote healthy living for kids, raising money for research to find cures for cancer, and founding the Association of Black Health Professionals so professionals can learn about health issues specific to African-Americans.

All this while he remained active in the boxing industry as a promoter and trainer. Even after retiring as an athlete, he kept giving back to the sport he loved for years until his passing in 2016.

Helped push for LGBT rights

how famous was muhammad ali

The legend of Muhammad Ali was not just defined by his boxing career, but also by his advocacy in different areas. He was an outspoken advocate for social justice issues throughout his life. These include advocating for racial equality, women’s suffrage, gay civil rights, and more.

Ali worked hard to promote these causes both directly through statements and actions, as well as supporting others who were working towards them.

He once said, “My greatest challenge will be to help people understand that it is okay to dislike someone because they choose to show love to other people that you find morally objectionable.”

This statement comes from a speech he gave about homophobia where he says things like, “We should respect their right to exist and work against all forms of oppression including racism, classism, sexism, and heterosexism, but we must do so with open hearts and conscious minds.”

These are great examples of how Ali tried to bring awareness to various important topics. Not only did he talk about them, but he actively participated in movements related to those issues.

Influenced music and art

Music is an integral part of most people’s lives these days, with many listening to songs for inspiration and/or entertainment. Many musicians find themselves influenced by popular culture, incorporating elements into their music that are picked up from television shows, movies, or podcasts.

Muhammad Ali was one of the greatest entertainers in history, so it makes sense that his influence can be seen in other artists’ work. His love for jazz inspired several musicians to create new styles they now call “jazz-rock.” He loved hip hop, which has had an enduring cultural impact as well.

Many famous works of literature and storytelling were modeled after Ali’s own experiences growing up. For example, The Great Gatsby features a chapter titled “The Most Beautiful Woman In The World,” very similar to how Ali described himself as being called "the most beautiful man in the world." A character in Gone With The Wind says something very much like what Ali once said about white people, making references to "no nigger this" and "I don't want no dark skined children running around eating fried chicken."

There are also various stories told about him that seem to have been adapted into films or TV series. These include different versions of his upbringing, life before boxing, and his career as he rose through the ranks.

Changed how people viewed religion

how famous was muhammad ali

People often cite the example of someone becoming religious due to their love for something or someone, but there’s one person who went beyond that. His story is even more incredible because he didn’t just gain faith in a set doctrine, he completely overhauled what his followers believed about God!

Ali was born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. in Louisville, Kentucky in 1942. He grew up with three brothers and became very close to his family. When he was 15 years old, however, his life took an unexpected turn when he received word that his father had been killed by gunshot wounds.

At this time, Ali already lived far away from home so he left immediately without saying goodbye to anyone. It wasn’t until months later that he returned to attend his father’s funeral.

After high school, Ali tried college several times before dropping out to pursue boxing full-time. Over the next few years, he would go on to win five Olympic gold medals as well as earn multiple world heavyweight titles.

But it was not always easy for him as a fighter. Like many boxers of his era, he suffered frequent injuries which prevented him from fighting at top form. This sometimes led to early losses which hurt his confidence.

He also refused to accept money for fights which sometimes resulted in short careers and/or poor payouts. These same habits cost him dearly after he retired.