Float Like a Butterfly: Muhammad Ali’s Life in Photos

Muhammad Ali, originally known as Cassius Clay, is considered to be the greatest heavyweight boxer in the history of the sport.

Muhammad Ali, known then as Cassius Clay, stand with his trainer Angelo Dundee at City Parks Gym in New York, Feb. 8, 1962.

Ali, the silver-tongued boxer and civil rights champion who famously proclaimed himself "The Greatest" and then spent a lifetime living up to the billing, died on June 3, 2016. 


Cassius Clay, 20 year old heavyweight contender from Louisville, Kentucky, poses for the camera on May 17, 1962 in Long Island, New York.

Stanley Weston Archive via Getty Images
Clay, who later changed his name to Muhammad Ali, points to a sign he wrote on a chalk board in his dressing room before his fight against Archie Moore in Los Angeles, predicting he'd knock Moore out in the fourth round, which he went on to do. The sign also predicts he'll be the next champ via a knockout over Sonny Liston in eight rounds. He did it in seven rounds. Harold P. Matosian / AP file
A supremely confident Clay holds up five fingers in a prediction of how many rounds it will take him to knock out British boxer Henry Cooper on May 27, 1963. Kent Gavin / Keystone via Getty Images
Clay is seen with his mother, Odessa Grady Clay, April 2, 1963. AP file

A portrait of Clay in March 1964.

AP file
Clay reads about his boxing match in the paper. Focus on Sport via Getty Images
The Beatles, from left, Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Ringo Starr, and George Harrison, take a fake blow from Clay, who later changed his name to Muhammad Ali, while visiting the heavyweight contender at his training camp in Miami Beach, Florida. AP file

Clay's handlers hold him back as he reacts after he is announced the new heavyweight champion of the world on a seventh round technical knockout against Sonny Liston at Convention Hall in Miami Beach, Florida on Feb. 25, 1964.

The new champion soon renounced Cassius Clay as his "slave name" and said he would be known from then by the Muslim name Muhammad Ali. 

AP file

Muhammad Ali stands with Malcolm X outside the Trans-Lux Newsreel Theater in New York on March 1, 1964, where hey had just watched a screening of films on Ali's title fight with Sonny Liston in Miami Beach.

Inspired by Malcolm X, the boxer converted to Islam in 1963, but he kept his new faith a secret until the heavyweight crown was safely in hand.


AP file

Heavyweight champion Muhammad 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. 

Muhammad Ali signs autographs during a visit to the London Free School children's play group in Notting Hill, London, May 15, 1966. Ali was in London for his upcoming title defense against British champion Henry Cooper. R. McPhedran / Hulton Archive via Getty Images

World heavyweight champion Ali sits in his room on his arrival in Houston, Feb. 20, 1967. The champ was silent on his thoughts about his draft status referring all questions to his New York attorney. The Houston Selective Service appeals board refused his appeal for a deferment. He was trying for a deferment on grounds that he is a Muslim minister.

Ed Kolenovsky / AP file
Ali is escorted from the Armed Forces Examining and Entrance Station in Houston by Lt. Col. J. Edwin McKee, commandant of the station, after Ali refused Army induction on April 28, 1967. Ali says he was a conscientious objector who would not serve in the Army of a country that treated members of his race as second-class citizens. AP file
Zora Folley moves in on Ali in first round of their heavyweight title fight in New York's Madison Square Garden on March 22, 1967. AP file
Heavyweight boxing champion Ali walks through the streets with members of the Black Panther Party, New York, New York, Sept. 1970. Ali was sentenced to five years in prison and his championship title revoked after he was convicted of draft evasion upon his refusal to serve with the American army in Vietnam upon grounds of conscientious objection. The decision was overturned in 1971 but Ali became a figurehead of resistance and a hero of the people. David Fenton / Getty Images
Former heavyweight champion Ali appears outside new champ Joe Frazier's gym in Philadelphia, Jan. 28, 1971. AP file
Joe Frazier is being directed to the ropes by referee Arthur Marcante after knocking down Ali during the 15th round of the title bout in Madison Square Garden in New York City on March 8, 1971. Frazier won the bout over Ali by decision. AP file
Ali, former world heavyweight boxing champion, toys with the finely combed hair of television sports commentators Howard Cosell before the start of the Olympic boxing trials, Aug. 7, 1972, in West Point, N.Y. AP
Ali throws a punch at Joe Frazier during their bout at Madison Square Garden in New York, Jan. 28, 1974. AP
Muhammad Ali yawns while babysitting two of his daughters by wife Veronica Porche, 9-month-old Laila and 2-year-old Hana, Dec. 19, 1978. Frank Tewkesbury / Evening Standard via Getty Images file

Ali embraces Coretta Scott King, the widow of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., at a news conference in Atlanta, Ga., launching a celebration for the first national holiday honoring the slain civil rights leader, Jan. 10, 1986. 

RIC FELD / AP file
Ali lights the Olympic flame as American swimmer Janet Evans looks on during the 1996 Summer Olympic Games opening ceremony in Atlanta, July 19, 1996. MICHAEL PROBST / AP file
Boxers Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali pose together as they arrive at the 10th annual ESPY Awards which honor excellence in all sports in Hollywood, July 10, 2002. Former heavyweight champion Frazier earned boxing immortality after he fought three epic fights with Ali. FRED PROUSER / Reuters file

WIBA Super Middleweight Champion Laila Ali is kissed by her father, boxing legend Muhammad Ali, following her third round TKO victory on June 11, 2005 at the MCI Center in Washington, D.C. 

JASON REED / Reuters file
President Bush presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Ali in the East Room of the White House on Nov. 9, 2005. EVAN VUCCI / AP file
Muhammad Ali sits on the stage during an announcement marking a new philanthropic initiative in the Lexington Convention Center in Lexington, Ky., May 19, 2009. Ali, his wife Lonnie Ali, and Alltech founder and president Pearse Lyons made the announcement of the Alltech-Muhammad Ali Center Global Education and Charitable Fund. Charles Bertram / The Herald-Leader via AP file
Ali looks to the field prior to an NCAA college football game between Louisville and Kentucky in Lexington, Ky., Sept. 19, 2009. Ed Reinke / AP file
Ali and wife Lonnie Ali appear onstage during the Keep Memory Alive foundation's "Power of Love Gala" celebrating Muhammad Ali's 70th birthday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, Feb. 18, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The event benefits the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health and the Muhammad Ali Center. Ethan Miller
Ali is escorted on stage by his wife Lonnie and a personal assistant during The Muhammad Ali Celebrity Fight Night Awards XIX in Phoenix, Arizona, March 23, 2013. The awards are given out to celebrities who embody the qualities of Ali and his fight to find a cure for Parkinson's Disease. RALPH D. FRESO / Reuters file

Ali attends Muhammad Ali's Celebrity Fight Night XXII at the JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa on April 8, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.

Read: Muhammad Ali, "The Greatest of All Time," Dead at 74

Charley Gallay / Getty Images for Celebrity Fight file