When Saddam Hossein kept 2,000 foreigners as hostages in 1990, Ali went to Baghdad to meet Hossein to influence him to negotiate, and as a result he released 15 Americans.
Some lesser known facts about Muhammad Ali
- Did Muhammad Ali smoke?: Not Known
- Did Muhammad Ali drink alcohol?: Yes
- Ali got inclined towards boxing after his bike was stolen from the Columbia Auditorium in 1954. It made him angry, after which he met a cop (Joe Martin) and told him that he wanted to punch the thief, co-incidentally the cop was a boxing trainer, who saw the fire in him and directed his aggression towards boxing.
- He used to practice by asking his mates to throw rocks at him.
- He won the gold medal in the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, but suffered from racial comment after it, as when he visited a restaurant in Kentucky with the Gold medal around his neck. The waitress told him, “Sorry, we don’t serve Negroes”. After which he replied “Well that’s okay- don’t eat ’em either.” After this incident he threw his gold medal into the Ohio River.
- In 1964, he won his first heavyweight championship against Sonny Liston by knockout.
- Malcolm X, a spiritual and political leader had a great impact on him. And as a result, he converted to Islam in 1965 by saying that “Cassius Clay is a slave name. I didn’t choose it and I don’t want it. I am Muhammad Ali, a free name – it means beloved of God, and I insist people use it when people speak to me.”
- In 1971, he suffered his first defeat against heavyweight champion Joe Frazier, which was called as The Fight of the Century.
- In 1981, when he was walking on a street in Los Angeles, he saw a 21 year old guy who was trying to attempt suicide. And without any hesitation, he went to the building to offer some help to the police. When Ali reached near the guy, he was shocked to see him, after which Ali talked to him for around 30 minutes and shared his difficult times, as are result he saved him from doing suicide and promised to help him.
- In 1999, he was honoured as the Sportsman of the Century.
- He married 4 times in his life span, but had a complicated family life .
- He suffered from Parkinson’s disease for around 32 years.
- He was only closer to few among his 9 children.
- Though he was against female boxing, but despite that his 2nd daughter Laila Ali became a boxer in 1999, and till 2014 she was undefeated in the super middleweight category with 24 wins.
- His 4th wife, Lonnie was the reason behind his distance from his son Muhammad Jr.
- He had Aviophobia i.e. fear of flying.