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The life of Muhammad Ali

Legendary boxer Muhammad Ali is considered by many to be one of the greatest heavyweight boxers of all time. His accomplishments in the ring were as great as his philanthropic and civil rights achievements. Ali died June 3 at age 74

"Float like a butterfly. Sting like a bee. You can't hit what your eyes don't see." – Muhammad Ali

1942

Born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr., Jan. 17, in Louisville, Ky.

1954

After 12-year-old Cassius Clay's bicycle is stolen, he meets Joe Martin, a policeman who trained young boxers.

"Impossible is just a word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they've been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It's an opinion. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing." – Muhammad Ali

1956

Wins the light heavyweight Golden Gloves novice championship.

1959

Wins Golden Gloves Tournament of Champions and the Amateur Athletic Union's national title.

"It's hard to be humble when you're as great as I am." – Muhammad Ali

1960

Wins the light heavyweight gold medal at the Rome Olympics; a month later, he wins his first fight as a pro against Tunney Hunsaker.

A trio of U.S. boxers wear gold medals at the Sept. 6, 1960, Olympic village in Rome. From left are Wilbert McClure of Toledo, Ohio, light middleweight; Cassius Clay of Louisville, Ky., light heavyweight; and Edward Crook of Fort Campbell, Ky., middleweight. (AP Photo)
"The crowd did not dream when they laid down their money that they would see a total eclipse of the Sonny!" – Muhammad Ali

Feb 25, 1964

Wins heavyweight title for first time by knocking out Sonny Liston. Joins the Nation of Islam shortly after.

Ali, fourth from right, prays with his hands open in a crowd in June 1964 at the Hussein Mosque in Cairo. (Photo by Express/Getty)
"I wish people would love everybody else the way they love me. It would be a better world." – Muhammad Ali

Mar 6, 1964

Changes his name from Cassius Clay to Muhammad Ali.

Ali in March 1964. (AP Photo)

1965

Ali defeats Liston again.

Heavyweight champion Ali stands over fallen challenger Sonny Liston, shouting and gesturing shortly after dropping Liston with a short hard right to the jaw on May 25, 1965, in Lewiston, Maine. The bout lasted only one minute into the first round. Ali is the only man ever to win the world heavyweight boxing championship three times. (AP Photo/John Rooney)
"When I feel pain, that's when I start counting, because that's when it really counts." – Muhammad Ali

1966

Conscientiously objects to serving in the Vietnam War.

Heavyweight Champion Ali exclaims "Why me?" when informed his draft board in Louisville had reclassified him 1-A in the draft, Feb. 17, 1966. Ali surrounded himself with youngsters from his neighborhood as he told of his feelings in Miami. (AP Photo/Toby Massey)
"How tall are you? So I can know in advance how far to step back when you fall down!" – Muhammad Ali

April 28, 1967

Refuses induction into the Army, is stripped of his boxing titles and banned from competing for three years.

Ali (Cassius Clay), the deposed world heavyweight boxing champion, told an anti-war rally on May 11, 1967 at the University of Chicago that there is a difference between fighting in the ring and fighting in Vietnam. (AP Photo/Charles Harrity)

March 22, 1967

Ali defeats Zora Folley.

Referee John LoBianco directs champion Ali to a neutral corner before he started the knockout count over prostrate challenger Zora Folley in the seventh round of heavyweight little fight. Ali was declared victor on a knockout at 1:48 of the round in fight March 22, 1967, in New York's Madison Square Garden. (AP Photo)
"Silence is golden when you can't think of a good answer." – Muhammad Ali

Oct 26, 1970

Returns to the ring in Atlanta and defeats Jerry Quarry.

Ali hits a hard right to Jerry Quarry during their fight Oct. 26, 1970, in Atlanta. The fight was stopped after the third round and Ali was declared the winner. (AP Photo/File)
"We become heroes when we stand up for what we believe in." – Muhammad Ali

Jun 28, 1971

Supreme Court overturns Ali's conviction, rules he was not guilty of evading war.

Mar 8, 1971

Loses a 15-round decision to Joe Frazier in what is tabbed "The Fight of the Century."

Left: A battered Ali walks back to his corner as a triumphant Joe Frazier, background, celebrates his title defense after the 15th round of their title bout on March 8, 1971, in New York. (AP Photo) Right: Chicago Tribune sports cover, March 9, 1971.

1972

Defeats Floyd Patterson in a rematch.

Ali and Floyd Patterson fight in New York in 1972. Ali won. (Tribune File Photo)
"If my mind can conceive it, and my heart can believe it—then I can achieve it." – Muhammad Ali

Jan 28, 1974

Defeats Frazier at Madison Square Garden.

Ali throws a punch at Joe Frazier, right, during their bout at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 28, 1974, in New York. (AP Photo)
"Not only do I knock them out, I pick the round!" – Muhammad Ali

Oct 30, 1974

Regains heavyweight title by defeating George Foreman in the "Rumble in the Jungle" in Kinshasa, Zaire.

A Zaire dancer with a spear moves ahead of Ali through the welcoming crowd Sept. 10, 1974, at Kinshasa airport. Ali arrived in a chartered plane from Paris for the world championship fight with George Foreman. (AP Photo/ Horst Faas)
"The Champ should be pretty like me!" – Muhammad Ali

Oct 1, 1975

Beats Frazier to retain title in the "Thrilla in Manila."

In this Oct. 1, 1975 photo, spray flies from the head of challenger Joe Frazier, left, as heavyweight champion Ali connects with a right in the ninth round of their title fight in Manila.(AP Photo/Mitsunori Chigita)
"I should be a postage stamp. That's the only way I'll ever get licked." – Muhammad Ali

Feb 15, 1978

Loses title to Leon Spinks but wins it for the third and final time exactly seven months later.

Leon Spinks, right, connects with a right hook to Ali during their Feb. 15, 1978, championship fight in Las Vegas. (AP Photo)

Dec 11, 1981

Loses to Trevor Berbick; retires two days later at 39.

Ali, right, takes a punch from Trevor Berbick, of Canada, during the first round of their 10-round bout on Dec. 11, 1981, in Nassau, Bahamas. Ali, who lost on a unanimous decision, fought his last fight. (AP Photo)

1983

Inducted into the Olympic Hall of Fame.

"I've handcuffed lightning, thrown thunder in jail!" – Muhammad Ali

1984

Says he has Parkinson's disease.

1990

Negotiates the release of 14 U.S. hostages from Iraq.

July 19, 1996

Lights the Olympic flame for the Summer Games in Atlanta.

American swimmer Janet Evans watches as Ali lights the Olympic flame at the 1996 Summer Olympic Games opening ceremony in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)
"Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth." – Muhammad Ali

1998

Named U.N. Messenger of Peace for humanitarian work.

1999

Named Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Century, BBC Sports Personality of the Century.

Nov. 9, 2005

Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by George W. Bush.

President George W. Bush presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Nov. 9, 2005, to Ali in the East Room of the White House. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

June 3, 2016

Ali dies at age 74.

"I don't have to be what you want me to be." – Muhammad Ali

Sources: ali.com, biography.com, Smithsonian National Museum of American History, Nova, Tribune Content Agency, Chicago Tribune reporting, Tribune Newspapers reporting

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