There are hardly any secrets about the man who is, arguably, the world’s most famous sportsman – three -time world champion and Olympic gold medalist – but here are some intriguing facts you still may not be aware of.
1. He changed his name twice. We all know he became Ali after his conversion to Islam, but the first name chosen for him was Cassius X. Just two weeks later, Elijah Muhammad, leader of the Nation of Islam sect that Ali joined, announced that Cassius Clay would now be known as Muhammad Ali.
2. He’s now a Sufi. In 2005, Muhammad Ali, who was earlier associated with the radical Nation of Islam, announced that he could relate most to the mystical, Sufi sect of Islam, to which he would adhere from then onward.
3. He fought his comeback in an injured state. While training for his great comeback fight against contender Jerry Quarry, Ali was badly injured when hit by former heavyweight champion and friend, Jimmy Ellis. The blow fractured one of Ali’s ribs, but he refused to reschedule the boxing duel, which he then went on to won.
4. He’s an amateur magician. He has us all under his spell anyway, but Ali has actually managed to master quite a few tricks involving sleight of hand. Till recently, he often surprised guests by amusing them with his prowess at magic.
5. He’s discovering new ways to communicate. Despite the debilitating effects of Parkinson’s, which makes verbal connection almost impossible, Ali uses his hands, fingers, facial expressions and eyes to communicate with visitors, tickling their palms, blowing over their heads, still bringing smiles to those around him. Nothing, not even Parkinson’s Disease, can ever claim a victory over the greatest champion of all time.