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Muhammad Ali, 'the greatest of all time,' turns 71

January 17, 2013|By Dan Loumena

Muhammad Ali, the self-proclaimed greatest boxer of all time and arguably the greatest sportsman in history, turned 71 today.

Ali, who was born Cassius Clay in Louisville, Ky., is legendary for his exploits not only inside the ring but outside it as well. He was a brash talker who could back it up in the ring (see tribute video from 2012 above as well as the photo gallery).

He won a gold medal in the 1960 Rome Olympics and converted to Islam in 1964, when he changed his name. He gained further international fame when he refused to fight in the Vietnam War because of his religious beliefs while wearing the crown as the heavyweight champion of the world.

Ali was eventually arrested and stripped of the heavyweight title in 1967, but the U.S. Supreme Court cleared him of the draft-evasion conviction in 1971. He served no jail time but was unable to box for more than three years.

"You know, my father loves people and people love my father, and I learned that at a very young age, as people would always come up to him wherever we went," his daughter, Laila, said recently when Ali was presented with the Liberty Medal, which is given to citizens for humanitarian causes, civil rights and religious freedom.

"My father has always lived his life to make this world better for others."

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