“A man who views the world the same at fifty as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life.”
Muhammad Ali (1942- )
Born Cassius Marcellus Clay in Kentucky, Ali won the Olympic gold medal for light heavyweight boxing in 1960. He worked his way up to a title fight by 1964 and was the youngest challenger to take a title from a champ (Sonny Liston). A follower of Elijah Muhammad and the Nation of Islam, Ali was arrested and stripped of his title in 1967 for his refusal, as a conscientious objector, to be drafted during the Vietnam War. His conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court four years later. He went on to take the title twice more from Joe Frazier and George Foreman. He retired from the ring in 1981 and was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1984, likely caused by repeated head trauma. Since then he has traveled extensively as a UN ambassador of peace and is active in promoting education and the defense of the Bill of Rights. George W. Bush awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2008.