Sample Thesis paper

Muhammad Ali




Before he attained the name Muhammad Ali, the renowned sportsman was once known as Cassius Clay Jr.  His boxing championship status is one that granted him the position and status of a famous professional boxer, civil rights activists and philanthropist (Ali, 1975).  Due to his cultural status as an icon, he was viewed with high rapture as well as vilified in the same length.  While it is easy to brag about the many championships and awards that he collected during his time, it is not only this accolade that makes him the famous person he is today. In fact, his popularity was more of the work he did the ring than for his fights. It is through his work outside the ring that he became more popular with people (Ali, 1975).  Generally, his popularity culminated after his refusal to join the army and most people that were in support of the war at the time wondered why. He explained that war was only necessarily if it was not unavoidable if it the results were positive and that he would not go to war to fight people that he did not have an issue with. He explained that it was in fact futile to go to war with people that had not offended him the least yet the blacks in the country were going through a worse situation. This nature created so much support for him within and outside the country. Generally, he was an unpredictable person with a complicated, controversial personality yet refreshing at the same time.  This is reflected in his ability to call a fellow black American a gorilla. A sentiment against the equality and freedom virtues he emphasized.

He campaigned against racial discrimination and for equal rights for the human race. It is reported that he won a medal for the United States in the Olympics games in 1960, which he later threw at the Ohio River for failure to gain access to a white’s only restaurant (Ezra, 2009). Thus, the champion used his title and position as a weapon against various social and economic ills. As a result, he gained popularity all over the world and through his efforts to free hostages from dictatorial leaderships, where both political and military effort seemed futile (Ezra, 2009).  He was also a kind and down to earth personality who took the time to identify with kids around his neighborhood whenever he visited.  Essentially, Muhammad Ali ensured to fight any form of injustice and evil with every tool that he had, with more effort than what he even applied in the boxing arena.  He was also a very religious individual, who paid a very high price for his beliefs, without self-consideration and proved Hemmingway’s saying right, that, “a man can be destroyed, but not defeated” (Ali, 2003). Nonetheless, this figure was just a man like so many others, meaning that he also made mistakes in life, with the only difference being that ability to overcome these human frailties. As a humanitarian and one concerned with the needs of others, his stand on the Vietnam war was immense, he cared for all humanity regardless of the race. As a man, he took the responsibility of his decisions and bestowed the title of an American hero. In effect, this figure changed the boxing arena, the United States and the world in so many ways. Thus, this research paper seeks to analyze the character traits of Muhammad Ali as a leader, and how he used these traits to enforce change in the society. Through this paper, the writer seeks to establish that Muhammad Ali was a visionary leader, one devoted to champion for humanitarian rights and the need to create an awakening for self-belief. Essentially, three core objectives will guide the theme of the paper.


Muhammad Ali is considered one of the greatest boxers and heavyweight champions in world history. These are titles that he obtained through time, fighting and defeating the title holders to gain validation. He operated on the baseline “float like a butterfly and sting like a bee”(Ali, 2003). His professional record exhibits fifty six wins and only five losses. The personality not only used his title to create wealth and popularity for himself, but also as a platform to champion for human rights. In particular, he openly spoke about the oppression of the African American people and through joining Islam, displayed the need for individual freedom and equality. In addition, he spoke against the war, urging people only to indulge in it if it was inevitable and to pursue a good cause. He explained that it beats all intelligence to fight a nation that he has not problem with, while the real problem was actually in the way that the blacks were discriminated and treated in his own country. However, his refusal to join the war meant that he would suffer the penalty of refusing to “attend to the call of the nation when it called”. Nonetheless, he was able to resume active career until Parkinson’s disease slowed him down. Consequently, after retiring in active boxing, the legendary boxer started to pursue and champion for social rights, engaged in humanitarian mission around the world with the goals of fighting both poverty and hunger, and racial discrimination. Essentially, it is through this engagement that the leader has become exemplified and renowned all over the world, with key leadership qualities like self-belief, influencing the future and high belief in preparation. In effect, the personality can be defined as an influential and life changing person both within and outside his boxing career. Thus, the paper will highlight the following information about Muhammad ali. These are:

•    To determine the context of the leader’s life, his education, and work and how this context influences his education and professional choices. This section will give a brief account of the personality’s life in Louisville, the neighborhood and how a number of events curtailed him to boxing.

•    To understand the leader’s contributions and how these contributions demonstrate that he is a catalyst for change. This section will analyze a number of things that the leader did during and after his boxing career, outside the boxing ring that prove that he was a leader. In effect, the section will evaluate the role of Muhammad Ali as a peacemaker, a civil rights activist and as a mentor.

•    neighborhood of other people regarding the leader and his work. This section will analyze other perspectives of the leader like the acknowledgments he received, the perception of other people about the leader among others.

•    Conclusion on the key findings of the leader. The section will recap the key elements of the research and the writer’s personal view on the research.


This chapter focuses on the methodology that was used in the study. It includes the methodology prompt, data collection methods, measurement of the study variable, validity and reliability, data processing and analysis and the limitations that were encountered in the course of the duty. The writer also offers an account of how they wrote and revised the work and the overall experience of undertaking the research.

Research Design

This was a personal profile of an individual, where the  researcher delved into the analysis of the personality  for a period of three days.  The research design is solely qualitative as it facilitated the analysis of existing literature, past interviews and observation of people that associated with the personality.

Overall Stance on Selection of the Leader

The leader from the findings of the research paper, is an influential individual through his career life and his approach to life. In essence, the leader understands the qualities of leadership by acknowledging that he is just a humble follower and not a leader. In the real sense, this acknowledgement reaffirms that he is in constant learning from successful predecessors. It is these traits and his influence while still embodying humility that drove me to choose the leader as he is exemplary in his field as a mentor and in setting real life precedence to those similar situations.

In addition, his charismatic nature and ability to identify with people from different occupations characterizes the selfless nature of a true leader. An effective leader is one who is able to identify and relate with his followers on a personal level. Having lived in Louisville, Kentucky and faced the struggles of discrimination and being a black minority, Muhammad Ali was the perfect choice leader for this project. Overall, he reflects the struggles of hands on leader, one that has been able to make it in life, how he worked hard to get to the top and how he lived with this realization every day. This is why he motivates and encourages those that are below him to work harder, think positively, build their confidence and believe in their innate abilities. This is essentially what is required of leaders. To be the source of motivation, courage and affirmation to their followers and to prepare them for growth and challenges.

Sources of Data.

Data was obtained from secondary sources. The secondary data was obtained through reviewing the existing related literature by different authors of different books, journal articles, publications on the personality and the internet.

Data Collection Methods

According to the nature of the research, only secondary sources of data were exploited. The researcher used different methods of qualitative data to come up with the Information, which included: a review of the existing literature from different textbooks, journal articles and information from the organization’s website.

Essentially the major research collection method that was applied was document studies. As the personality lived and carried out his work in the past, it was necessary to apply a source of data that would give insight into his life and this information was attained only through information form as an observation was not possible. Among the documents that were used were public records and personal archives of the personality from the web. Public records are those documents that are maintained by giving an account of a person or an event. This source of data was available through newspaper archives, the internet, among other places. This information was essentially important in understanding the projected personality and making comparisons with other people in the community.

Literature review.

The researcher reviewed the existing literature related to Muhammad Ali from different books, organization’s past records and information from its website, which facilitated the researcher with secondary data.

Validation of The Instruments

In order to ascertain valid and relevant information, the usefulness of existing sources varied on how accurate and accessible they were.  Because most of the data collected were obtained from secondary sources, the usefulness of the gathered information based on the quality of available information and how accurate and accessible they were. This was done so as to aid the student in the compilation of data and the analysis of data so as to be able to conduct an efficient research.

 Data Processing and Analysis

The raw data that was collected through secondary methods and was processed by the use of computer Microsoft word program through typing and editing accordingly.

 Limitations of The Study

•    Funds. The researcher encountered a problem when it came to money since most of the information required had to be obtained from various sources of the net. This implies that money was required to photocopy data and on the internet.

•    Time. There was inadequate time to gather information from relevant sources since lectures were being conducted concurrently, and most of the information obtained required meticulous scrutiny to ensure it aligns with the requirements of the research.

•    Limited experience of the researcher in data collection and compilation where research is concerned, therefore taking up a lot of time. Coming up with the whole research proposal was rather hectic owing to the numerous information required by every section of the paper.

•    Inadequate information from the relevant documentaries regarding the subject issue of the research. The challenge, therefore, gave the researcher a lot of stress while looking for relevant sources of data from which she could derive information

Writing and Revising the Paper

The compilation of the research paper took an approximate of two days. Essentially, after most of the information was constituted, the typing process was faster. Nonetheless, there were a number of mistakes here and there and it was imperative to go through the paper to ensure that all these mistakes were eliminated. I also went through the paper three times to revises information and streamline the presented content.

The General Writing Process

The general research process was highly tasking. First, there is limited information about Muhammad’s Ali’s side life and contributions to the society. Most of the information presented were information about his boxing career and the writer had to sieve through this information to gain other relevant information required for other parts of the research. There is also limited information about his family, particularly about his engagements with them.

Also, coming up with an effective methodology approach was essentially difficult. This is so because there is practically no quantitative data and most of the information was obtained through literature reviews, books and journals profiling the life of this personality.

 The Leader’s Context

Muhammad Ali was born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr, in the 1942, January 17, to Cassius Marcellus Clay Sr. and Odessa Grady Clay. The highly renowned sports figure attained the name Muhammad Ali after he changed religion to becoming a Muslim (Ali, 1999). Apparently, one neighborhood incident sparked his boxing career. One good day, the lad aged 12  went to an annual convention with a friend at the Louisville service club located in the Columbian auditorium. The kid then owned a sixty dollar red and white  Schwinn (Wright, 1985).  However, after the two friends indulged in the purchase of ice cream and popcorn, the two left the venue only to realize that their bikes had been stolen. The two were later directed to the basement of the auditorium where they found a police officer manning the boxing area. His name was Joe Martin.  Amidst frustration, Cassius admitted to Joe Martin, the officer in charge of handling his case, that if he ever found the boy that stole his bike, he would shred him into pieces. However, the police officer who was also a boxing coach to Muhammad Ali that the only way he would tear that kid to shreds was if he learned how to beat someone up (Wright, 1985).

 It is through this ordeal that the two became acquainted with the latter inviting Muhammad Ali, then Cassius to his gym.  This invite and visit to the gym instantly created a desire in him to become a boxer.  The idea was also seconded by his mother, Odessa, who thought that boxing was a good pastime activity, compared to indulging with other kids. After six weeks, the youngster won his first match after a split decision (Maraniss, 2008).  This win fuelled his desire to get deeper into boxing. In effect, by the age of 18, the youngster had already attained two titles under the Golden Gloves and two amateur titles under the Athletics Union and had 100 wins over eight losses. Although he continued to study, he failed in his final exams scoring only a D minus average. Nonetheless, his love for boxing kept him moving and after his graduation, he decided to partake in the Olympic boxing games held in Rome in 1960 even though he was not a professional boxer (Maraniss, 2008). Nonetheless, he was fortunate enough to win the medal.  Later, he decided to engage in professional boxing and took up the help of a trainer, Angelo Dundee.

The first contract that he signed was with the Louisville Sponsoring group, which consisted of 10 businesspersons from the area. His first paycheck was 10,000 dollars in cash and 4,000 dollars guaranteed for the next two years (Wright, 1985). Any money that the boxer made, more than the guarantee would in turn be split up among the sponsors, who would in turn cater for all his travel and expenses (Wright, 1985). Essentially, the Olympic win officially marked his professional boxing career, championing him to many wins, with the first win being through a match with Sonny Liston.  After this win, he later changed his religion to being a Muslim and married Sonji Roy.

Through most of the heroic wins, most of which were knockouts, he became the top contender for the heavyweight championship held by Sunny Liston. Thus, the two were scheduled to fight in February 1964 in the city of Miami (Krantz, 2008).  While the latter was the reigning champion and bearer of the title, and clay the event underdog. Clay appeared to be the underdog depicting form the skills seen while fighting against both cooper and Jones. Essentially everyone envisaged a clean win for Liston. Nonetheless, Ali did not take up defeat. Prior to the event, he engages the champion in a pre-fight Weigh in with both of them engaging in a demeaning circus. Both of them defamed each other for the first time in the history of boxing (Krantz, 2008). Annoyed by the demeaning and defaming comments from the “underdog”, Liston tried to earn a quick knockout, but was unfortunate to lose the match after the sixth round. After two severe blows from the youngster, Liston refused to get back to the ring for the seventh round even after the bell rang. Thus, Ali was declared the winner.

After the defeat of the champion, Muhammad Ali the acquired the undisputed title and became the youngest boxer to attain the heavy weight champion.  It is also during this time that he changed his name and adopted Islam.  The change in name necessitated a rematch between Ali and Liston. However, the results were similar to the first and the only difference was that the second match was shorter, making it for only two minutes (Kram, 2001).

The second match was against Floyd Peterson, through which Ali was required to defend his title. Floyd Peterson had lost to Liston in the first round knockouts. With Ali and Floyd, the match took 12 rounds after which Ali was declared the undisputable winner. In the years to come, the champion won other matches against other contenders. He won against George Chuvalo, Brian London, Henry Cooper, and Karl Mildenberger. His last match against Cleveland Williams in the Houston Astrodome gathered so much interest, and accolades and Muhammad Ali convincingly won in the third round through a knockout (Norton & Terril, 2000). He later stood against the unbeaten heavyweight champion of the last five years, Terrell. The intensity of the fight and the determination of Ali to win was highlighted in the length of the fight. The fight took fifteen rounds to end, with both of the fighters displaying strong skill and powerful performance. However, Muhammad Ali was the declared the winner after a unanimous decision (Kram, 2001).

His religion and religious choices had a great impact on his career and many decisions that he took to ensure that he does not stray. For instance, during the Vietnam War, Ali has attained the draft A-1 status, which meant that he was eligible to join the army. Nonetheless, he was not interested in joining the army due to his religious inclinations and applied for exemption. Even though the state denied him an exemption, he refused to join the army. His refusal led to his arrest, prosecution, and he was later condemned for evasion and the verdict handed was that he was guilty. This sentence necessitated disciplinary action and for Ali, his passport and license were taken away. The disciplinary action led to the stripping off of his title with the latter being sentenced to three years imprisonment and a hefty fine. However, he was fortunate enough that these rights were handed back to him, making it possible to continue his boxing career.

During the time when his license was withdrawn, Muhammad Ali started to develop his leadership skills. He spoke out to his college mates against the Vietnam War, a cause the plummeted his public image. His influential talks implied that the public attitudes towards the war changed.  This is possibly why his license was later reinstated, owing to the influence he exerted on the public masses. He was then reinstated and a unanimous decision to overturn his conviction decided by the Supreme Court.  Thus, he rejoined his career in 1970, through which he later won against Jerry Quarry and ended up with a booming career of 56 wins, 37 knockouts, and only 5 losses. After the fight with Jerry, he was selected as the top most contender against the heavyweight champion, Frazier (Norton & Terrill, 2000). This was essentially the fight of the year. The reason is that the two opponents fighting each other were both champions and known as undefeated. The fight was scheduled for the 8th of march 1971. The first rounds of the match were very tight with both the boxers being neck to neck with each other. Nevertheless, Frazier gained momentum against Ali and took the win. This was the first ever loss that Muhammad Ali encountered in professional boxing. Two years later, he again lost to Ken Norton, whose blows were so severe that they broke his jaw. However, Ali encountered a controversial win in their second bout, which meant that he had regained a right to fight Joe Frazier again, who had also lost to George Foreman. It is after this re-take on January 28, 1974 that Ali won again. Later fights between Ali and Frazier proved very intense with each of the two engaging each other in severe fights. Nonetheless, Ali won all the matches. He also won against George Foreman when he failed to make it to the count after the eight rounds.

The Leader’s Contributions

Several elements of Muhammad Ali enforce his position as a leader. These are his character traits, his goals, and actions. It is through these elements that he was able to impact, highly on the people around him and the world.

One character trait of the leader is the high level of self-belief. Muhammad Ali highly believed that he would do great things, and it is through this belief that he was able to excel over his opponents in his boxing career.  His life is a testimony of self-belief and the need to affirm one’s capability.  He prophesied through his words that he was the greatest, and indeed, became great even before he attained the status. This principle of living is, in fact, a challenge to people all over the world, who through the leader are inclined to believe that they are capable of the task lying ahead. Essentially, there is no sure way to victory other than through self-belief (Marqusee, 1999).

Not only did Muhammad Ali believe in himself, but also, confessed in his future.

One prominent trait that this leader exhibit is the power of the tongue and the power of positive thinking. For instance, Muhammad Ali constantly spoke life into his future. It is through this positive inclination of thought and positive utterances that he was able to attain victory in most of his matches. In fact, this kind of talk would scare the opponents and infer their ability to perform well. During a fight with an opponent, the latter would tell his opponent that not only will he beat him up, but he will also knock him out. In fact, this was one of his constant practices while in the ring.

     At the beginning of his boxing career, Muhammad Ali was liked for both his charm and personality than for the skills he displayed in the ring. He declared that he was the World’s greatest though the harsh realities of the boxing world later dawned on him. Then later in his career, on the 25th of February, 1964, aged twenty-two, he was able to  knock out “Sonny” through a most astounding upset, to become the world heavyweight champion (Brunt, 2002). For the period that followed, precisely, three years, he impressed the world for the skill he demonstrated in boxing, appearing as a dominating and a magnificent fighter of all times. Outside the ring, his personality was also being shaped in an immense way. His personality was being sculpted in dimensions that were even more important. Alex Haley states that the first impression he had of the boxer was that of an individual with a versatile personality. He continues that while it was quite difficult to determine whether the boxer was psychic in posture, he had an inner self-belief and unmatched self-convictions.”

Besides his personality, Muhammad Ali is also known for his activism. In the year 1960, the personality became more tumultuous and a rod of Dissent for the American people (Remnick, 1999). He preached, messages of black pride and resistance to white people. However, there are times he rejected his messages because not all of the messages he preached were wise and honorable ( K’Meyer, 2009).  He particularly commented to fellow Olympian in 1960, “I played golf, and I hit the thing long, but I never knew where it was going.” (Remnick, 1999). Nonetheless, this is not to imply that most of the messages he preached and taught were wrong. Sometimes, he knew where he was going with his beliefs. For instance, he blatantly refused to go to the Vietnam war, citing his religious beliefs. He stated, “I were got no quarrel with them Vietcong”. (Hauser, 1996).  The American establishment did not understand this sentiment and responded “it was the duty of every citizen to respond to the call of the war when it called”. This led him to an exile state for long, but soon he resumed his career. Meanwhile, the personality’s impact on the world and around the United States was growing immensely.  He was very popular with the black American people, with those that were against the Vietnam war and with all the people that felt they were aggrieved by the system and how it worked.  It is hard to believe that a sports personality would have such an impact on people. One such evidence is the scene that took place in the year 1970, when the personality regained his career after exile from the ring.

It was evident that the leader’s influence over people had changed positively with time. Exactly two days before his return to the ring and fight against Jerry Quarry, it  was evident that the perception of the people towards him had changed positively.  For example, there were long lines of people looking for the hotel and their nature of dressing was different from that of people that frequented boxing arenas. Among the spectators that were attracted to this fight were men wearing caps and hats with plumes and women of nude dressing nature.  Other people were the rich and the affluent of the society as limousines were presently parked at the curb, and money was displayed all over. Essentially, this scene was due to the influence of the champion of the people who had thought that he would never fight again and yet; he was here again in the ring.

With time, the religious views of the personality seemed to evolve (Bingham, 1993). During the 1970’s he engaged in serious studies of the Quran, choosing to be an orthodox Islam. While he had prior believed in the teachings of his mentor, Elijah Ali of the non-existence of both heaven and hell and that white people were devils, this view changed over time and he became spiritually open with the need to embrace all people from different walks of life (Berg, 2009). In fact, he spoke out openly against such doctrines. In 1984, through the declaration that “What he teaches is not at all what we believe in. He represents the time of our struggle in the dark and a time of confusion in us, and we don’t want to be associated with that at all.” While the figure is a deeply religious being today, his health has seriously failed him with time. 

Essentially, Ali’s civil activism was of the unsafe nature. During those days, it was common that those involved in civil rights work would choose safe activism.  Nonetheless, the path was not safe for those that choose to take part in the real struggle. These are the likes of Martin Luther King Jr., Viola Liuzzo and Medgar Evers, as well as other courageous mean and women that were subjected violence, economic assaults, and death when they choose to take their activism too far. Then came the rise of Ali, who went on all the preaching and doctrines of all the activism that stated that all the black people desired was “equally American values” (Bingham & Wallace, 2001). He instead preached freedom and equality for the black people, a kind that was rare in the world. As though that was not enough, he further threatened the status quo from outside the political arena and certain strategies of designated civil rights movement (Bingham & Wallace, 2001). For instance, when he joined Islam, not many people were pleased with the move.  However, the fact that he would join and embrace a religion despised by most of the Americans and still be proud of the move was a thrill for most people (Berg, 2009). Such a controversy elicited a heavy message to the white at the time. Essentially, it was assumed that the latter could not stand free black people. It was unfathomable to imagine that a sporting icon with the ability to make so much money would even consider taking up Islam as a religion  and stand up for the religion  like no else would and risk everything he had for the belief.

Despite the challenge that he had bestowed on the general community, the leader and sports icon downplayed his role. He stated that he was no leader, but a humble follower. Nonetheless, this experience changed the perception of black people and for most of the civil rights movement (Tyler, 1998). It is through this impact that most of the civil rights movements were able to overcome their fear of protesting influenced by Muhammad Ali courageous nature. In essence, the leader did not just influence the image of African Americans on themselves; he in fact opened the eyes of white people to the exposure of the abilities of the African American people and what they can do.

Among one of the reasons that this personality stood out more to the people of America was due to his heads on approach. He was taking America by storm. In fact, there had not been anyone with the ability to take on his position and handle racism heads like the way he did. While racism was virulent, people did not openly discuss the matter. In fact, for one to make it in the country at the time, it was imperative that they remain quiet and present themselves in a given way (Kindred, 2007). This meant that one should not talk about what was going on, even when presented with a death sentence. Nonetheless, Ali changed the perception on all of that. He was very vocal about the issues that affected people in the society like slavery and racism and every African American agreed whether the talk was covertly or overtly. In fact, his influence and talk did not just affect on the African American people, but also far beyond African American. In particular, his refusal to join the army meant that he supported armies all over the world that believe in the need to fight a good cause. While most Americans were upset with this move, as most of them supported the war, the news of this refusal spread like wildfire. In fact, moments later, everyone was aware of his refusal and talked about it. His refusal was an open declaration that the rich should not force the poor to partake in activities they do not desire to because they have the influence over them. His statement was a blatant declaration for people to understand.

This placed him the 1960’s vortexes. In addition to being a champion and a heavyweight, he was the center of attention in all facets of life.

After some time, the championship title slipped out of Ali’s hand, but that was not the last of his cause. In fact, he declared that he had not lost but gained so much, like peace of mind and a free conscience (Hauser, 1992). In fact, Ali was so shocked that the world was sad for him, as he did not understand why. After some time, by the late 60’s, this personality became a living reflection of the proposition that all that matters is principles (Miller & Kenedi, 1999). He showed that power not only lay in the ability of his fists but also in his conscience. Nonetheless, Ali was also not just a perfect human being. In fact, it would be a disservice to only acknowledges his positive traits and not fail to accept his flaws.

At times, the personality was irrational. While he adored honor, he more than often excused dishonorable behavior on the part of others. For instance, he was very accommodating even with people like Mobutu Sésé Seko of Zaire and Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines. Essentially, his willingness to box in their countries was a stark contrast to the love he had for freedom. In addition, some of his utterances were very racial. In particular, the comment he made to Joe Frazier. In fact, there is no freedom in one black person having the nerve to call another black person a gorilla. Nonetheless, the things that the personality has done in his life are far more positive that the negative flaws (Hauser, 1998). As a result, his influence and legacy remains monumental to the entire community and is of impact to both the black and the white.     Essentially, Muhammad Ali created a place for himself in history that has since remained his own. He not only mirrors the times of his generation but also fought for the needs of the people, stood by his beliefs and ensured that they prevailed. Thus, more than any other personality of his generation, this figure belongs to the world. His words encouraged many people to believe in themselves, aspire and attain things that they possibly would not have. Not only was he a standard-bearer for the blacks, but also with everyone

Other Perspectives of the Leader

              Muhammad Ali is one of the most successful boxers in world’s history. However, after his retirement, and during the year 1984, the latter was diagnosed with the Parkinson’s syndrome, assumed to have developed following severe trauma to the head due to his boxing career. The disease has negatively affected the life of the former champion causing slow motor skills and limited speech movement. Nonetheless, even with the diseases, the former champion remains a major public figure, as he still travels the world to support humanitarian and charitable events. One of the notable things that he has done in his life was meeting with them Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein in 1990, to negotiate that the American hostages held captive be released, he also travelled to Afghanistan in 2002 as a messenger of peace of the United Nations. However, it should be noted that before he transformed to a charismatic Muslim, Ali was a radical Islamist (Curtis, 2006). In fact, he was even a supporter of the Nation of Islam and spoke vehemently  against the assimilation process of both the white and the black citing that black people should remain culturally unique.

Another accolade bestowed to the once boxing champion was the sports personality of the century. After the BBC sports voting exercise, the personality acquired the honor of the best sports personality of the century, as well as being published in the sports illustrated magazine  under the title” Sportsman of the year” (Hauser, 1991).  It is due to this high sports ranking that he was also bestowed with the honor of lighting the cauldron in the 1996 Olympics. He was also named as the fighter of the year in the ring magazine for five times more than any other boxing personality.  Later, he was inducted into the hall of fame in 1990.  The boxing personality also attained the Presidential Medal of Freedom, offered to him in 2005, at a ceremony held at the White House. In the same year, a cultural non-profit center on peace named after him was opened in Louisville.

The life and marriage of the boxer were as active as his boxing life.  Muhammad Ali  married four times, from which he got  nine children. Out of these, two were sons, and seven were daughters. Ali’s first wife was a waiter, Sonji Rui  and one month after they met; they got married. This was on the 14th of August in 1974. Owing to Ali’s religious inclinations and staunch beliefs, their marriage did not hold long. One of the reasons that the couple broke up is that Roi objected to conversion of certain beliefs; like to adhere to the dress and customs of Islamic women. The couple divorced just after two years of marriage. In 1967, the couple went on to marry Belinda Boyd, who was more than willing to convert to Islam after their wedding. She even embraced change of name to Khalilah Ali, though her old name stuck with her close family and friends. She bore four kids, three girls and a son.Later, Muhammad Ali got engaged in an affair with Veronica Porsche. This led to the disintegration of his marriage and by 1977, he married Porsche. She bore him two daughters, Hana and Laila. However, the marriage also ended after a number of years, and they were divorced by 1986. In the same year, the boxer married Yolanda Williams, with whom they had been friends since 1964 and were the woman to whom the boxer is currently married to. Despite his fame, Muhammad Ali was a good father to his children and tried to spend as much time as possible with them.         

Even though is now suffering from Parkinson’s disease and his motor skills have significantly reduced, he is still very humorous. However, he talks in hushed tones as is speech is extremely restricted. In addition, he uses his wheelchair to move and occasionally walks with an aide (Hauser, 2005). Nonetheless, he has retained his humanitarian works as he has continued to engage in charity work with the Muhammad Ali Center in Arizona; that is mainly a Parkinson center. He also continues to engage with Unicef and other charitable organizations. At one time, Muhammad Ali was asked whether he regrets his decision to take up boxing and he stated that, would he have not engaged in active boxing, then he would still be a painter in the little town of Louisville. Essentially, the nature of his disease is attributed to the heavy blows he suffered throughout his career. Even though a doctor disputed this effect of boxing, Muhammad Ali was still diagnosed with progressive Parkinson’s disease.


It is evident that Muhammad Ali was an influential personality of his time. In fact, he is still very popular in during this time owing to the number of humanitarian contributions he made. The life journey of the personality proves to be an instrumental factor in shaping his career as one event to another contributed to shaping his need to engage in active boxing (Schulke & Matt, 2001). It is through the neighborhood incident that he was lucky to meet his trainer. In addition, his inability to perform well at school meant that he had an easy career choice when he opted to pursue professional boxing.

Despite his failure in school, this personality was very life smart. Essentially, he carried on with the need to be free and this is one of the reasons he opted for Islam. A controversy that showed that a Black man had the rights and freedom to choose his own. It is with the same defiance that he refused to join the army citing religious beliefs. Even though he was later subjected to exile, he seemed resigned and not willing to compromise his beliefs. In fact, he used the platform to speak against war, citing that it was unnecessary if not for a worthy cause. This charisma made him popular with the masses that would throng the boxing ring to watch him play (Gorn, 1995).

He grew his career through resilience and self belief. It is essentially through courage and believing in his abilities that he won most of his matches, even when people referred to him as an underdog. Progressively but surely, he emerged the champion in most of the fights with his opponents. It is the same nature of boldness and defiance that the latter displayed in the ring, as he would speak favorably and demean his opponent. He would declare victory even before a match, a behavior that made him more successful (Ali, 1999). In the end, not only was he the world champion, but also a mentor to many with low self esteem. In effect, most people looked up to him for encouragement and self-drive. Thus, he gained popularity within and across America with many people.


Ali, M (1999). Ali: journey of a holy man. New York: St. Martin’s Press.

Ali, M. (1975). The greatest, my own story. New York: Random House [Ali’s first autobiographical venture.]

Ali, M. (2003). The soul of a butterfly: reflections on a life’s journey. London: Bantam, 2003. [Collaborating with his daughter, Ali reflects on human virtues and their reflection in his life.]

Arkush, M. (2008). The Fight of the Century: Ali vs. Frazier March 8, 1971. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley and Sons.

Berg, H (2009). Elijah Muhammad and Islam. New York: New York University Press.

Bingham, H. L.,& Wallace, M (2001). Muhammad ali’s greatest fight: cassius clay vs. the united states of america. London: Robson.

Brunt, S (2002). Facing Ali: the opposition weighs in. New York: Knopf, 2002. [Accounts of 15 men who fought Ali.]

Curtis, E, E.(2006). Black Muslim Religion in the Nation of Islam, 1960–1975. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2006. [Examination from a religious studies viewpoint.]

Ezra, M (2009). Muhammad Ali: The Making of an Icon. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. [Examines Ali’s cultural image.]

Gorn, E., J., (1995). ed. Muhammad Ali, the People’s Champ. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1995. [Collection of essays on Ali; part of the “Sport and Society” series.]

Hauser, T. (1996). healing. San Francisco: Collins Publishers San Francisco, 1996. [In collaboration with Ali, a collection of quotations and other pieces underlying Ali’s beliefs.]

Hauser, T. (1998). Muhammad Ali & Company. Norwalk, CT: Hastings House, 1998. [A collection of Hauser’s essays on Ali and other boxing figures.]

Hauser, T.(1992). Muhammad Ali Memories. New York: Rizzoli, 1992. [Coffee-table book illustrated with Neil Leifer’s photographs.]

Bingham, H., L (1993). Muhammad Ali: A Thirty-Year Journey. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1993.

Hauser, T.(1991). Muhammad Ali – His Life and Times. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1991. [Hauser’s comprehensive biography of Ali.]

Hauser, T (1996). Muhammad Ali: In Perspective. New York: HarperCollins World, 1996. [With an introduction by Ali. Heavily illustrated, accessible book for the general public.]

Hauser, T (2005). The Lost Legacy of Muhammad Ali. Wilmington, DE: SPORT Classic Books, 2005. [A comprehensive collection of Hauser’s essays and other short pieces on Ali published after his 1991 biography.]

K’Meyer, T., E (2009). Civil Rights in the Gateway to the South: Louisville, Kentucky, 1945–1980. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky

Kindred, D. (2007). Sound and Fury: Two Powerful Lives, One Fateful Friendship. New York: Free Press, 2007. [Dual biography of Ali and Howard Cosell, the sportswriter who defended him in the 1960s.]

Kram, M (2001). Ghosts of Manila: The Fateful Blood Feud between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. London: CollinsWillow, 2001.

Krantz, L.(2008). Ali in Action: The Man, the Moves, the Mouth. Guilford, CT: Lyons Press, 2008. [Brief biography of Ali, accompanied by a DVD with footage of his fights.]

Maraniss, D. (2008). Rome 1960: The Olympics That Changed the World. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2008.

Marqusee, M. (1999). Redemption Song: Muhammad Ali and the Spirit of the Sixties. London: Verso.

Miller, J, and Kenedi., A. (1999). Muhammad Ali: Ringside. Boston: Little, Brown, 1999. [An illustrated collection of essays on Ali by well-known writers.]

Norton, K, & Terrill.K. (2000). Going the Distance. Champaign, IL: Sports Pub, 2000.

Remnick, D.(1999). King of the World: Muhammad Ali and the Rise of the American Hero. New York: Vintage Books, 1999. [Focuses on Ali’s career in the early 1960s.]

Schulke, F, and Matt .S.(2001) Muhammad Ali: The Birth of a Legend, Miami, 1961–1964. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 2001.

Tyler, B., M.(1998). African-American Life in Louisville. Images of America. Charleston, SC: Arcadia, 1998.

Wright, G., C (1985). Life behind a Veil: Blacks in Louisville, Kentucky, 1865–1930. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1985.