People return to index
The only three-time heavyweight champion of the world, Cassius Clay grew up in segregated Louisville and was deeply affected by the murder of Emmett Till. Clay became a boxer and suffered the indignation of winning an Olympic gold medal for the United States in 1960 and being refused restaurant service upon his return home. After defeating Sonny Liston in 1964, Clay announced that he had joined the Nation of Islam and was renamed Muhammad Ali by Elijah Muhammad. Ali famously declared "I ain't got no quarrel with the Viet Cong" and refused induction into the Army in 1967, for which he received a five-year prison sentence, but the Supreme Court later overturned the conviction. Ali retired from boxing in 1981 and lit the Olympic flame at Atlanta's 1996 Olympics.